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Abandoned Property

Owners of immovable property in suburban areas have a legal duty to ensure that such properties are in good stead and comply with municipal by laws relating, inter alia, their upkeep and maintenance.

There are owners of immovable property who have failed to maintain their property.

Abandoning properties in suburban areas is usually unintentional in that when the owners acquire such property, they do so with the intention of either improving an existing structure or erecting a new structure on it.

What then happens is that for one of a variety reasons, the owner decides to postpone any developments indefinitely. The consequence thereof is that the property remains unmaintained for a very long time, such that one may find that the lawn is overgrown, and vegetation thereon spreads without any form of control and monitoring, thus becoming a nuisance to neighbouring properties.

The main problem with abandoned land in as far as the environment is concerned is that the plant species on the particular land goes unmonitored. This poses a threat of having the whole suburb under threat of such animal species.

This has happened in the Southern Suburbs in Cape Town which necessitated the Cape Town’s Invasive Species programme in 2011. The other threat posed by abandoned property is that such property creates a suitable environment for a boom in the rodent population, whereas there may not be predators to regulate the boom. So what could then potentially happen is that an array of pest control chemicals may be introduced in that environment, thereby corrupting soil, fish ponds, and other environmental media.

Landowners must cooperate with municipal authorities by adhering to by laws and ordinances regulating the upkeep and maintenance of property. What starts as a negligible issue may turn into a serious environmental problem.

All that is required is compliance, because ultimately, prevention is better than damage control.

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