The right to a view?

11 September 2023 ,  Salomé van Wyk 636
The Southern Cape, and George in particular, is surely one of the most wonderful and beautiful places in the world.  The beautiful green George Peak takes my breath away every morning when I open my room's curtains.  But for how much longer?  My neighbour is busy putting up a large two-story addition right in front of my view.  Is he allowed to do this?

Firstly, I should check in my property's title deed.  Perhaps it was one of the conditions included as a restriction in the title deed, that he cannot obstruct my view.  However, it is very rare for such "view" servitudes to be included in title deeds of a regular town development.  If I had cut off my neighbour's plot from mine through a subdivision, and if the view was important to me, it would have been an opportunity to register such a view servitude in favour of my property.  I could have also approached my neighbour and, by agreement, had such a servitude registered.  If you have a good relationship with your neighbour, and a view is important to you, now might be the time to enter into such an agreement. A Notarial contract is required, whereafter the servitude will be registered against the title deed. 

Back to my neighbour's construction. It won't help if I align myself with constitutional principles, because the Constitutional Court has already decided that no one has a right to a view.  So what about the value of my property?  It will likely decrease significantly with the loss of a view.

I can also check whether the building plans have been legally approved by the Municipality.  They must comply with the National Building Regulations.  According to the National Building Regulations, the Official approving of the plans must be satisfied that the construction is not likely to be unsightly or objectionable, or likely to diminish the value of the surrounding properties, or likely to be dangerous.

Municipalities also have zoning regulations.  In certain areas, the building may not be larger than a certain size, and there are provisions regarding height, number of floors, and similar aspects.  These are restrictive conditions that any reasonable buyer should take note of.  My neighbour's additions comply with these conditions, and even though the value of my property may decrease due to my neighbour's construction, it won't help me.  From the onset, there was the possibility that my neighbour could legally obstruct my view, and that the temporary higher value of the property was something I should have considered when I bought the property.

Fortunately, I still drive over the bridge every morning, which is considerably higher than the surrounding buildings, and I can still enjoy the beauty of George Peak. Perhaps I should build my next house on the bridge.