Written for Property Poser

A frustrated Property Poser reader would like to add a second storey to his house, but is prohibited by local authorities to do so.

The reason is that the roof will then be closer than the prescribed three metres to power lines that were installed by the municipality after he had purchased the property.

He says he was never approached by the municipality for permission to install the lines over his house. Due to normal wear and tear, his current roof needs to be replaced and he subsequently decided to add another storey.

He wants to know if the municipality may erect power lines over one’s house without permission and what he could do to obtain permission from them to build his house to double storey level.

Lucille Geldenhuys from Lucille Geldenhuys Attorneys in Stellenbosch says when a person becomes the owner of a property his ownership and use thereof will be limited by the conditions imposed by the municipality in whose jurisdiction the property falls as well as by municipal bylaws, regulations and ordinances.

She says these conditions are imposed by the municipality or administrator of the province in terms of the Land Use Planning Ordinance with the establishment of the area, and would have been inserted in the first title deed that was issued in respect of the erf.

For residential erven, says Geldenhuys, there will typically be a condition stating that the owner of the erf will be obliged, without compensation, to allow electricity, telephone and television cables and/or wires as well as water, sewerage, drainage and storm water pipes of any other erf to be installed inside or outside his erf.

According to her, a property owner may follow the prescribed appeal procedure if he is not happy with the conditions imposed in terms of Section 42 of the ordinance.

“Most often such applications will relate to limitations on the manner in which the property may be used or the area on which structures may be erected,” says Geldenhuys. “Consent for the removal of a limited title deed condition or the departure there from will however not be given in respect of the municipal services infrastructure.”
This, says Schalk van der Merwe from Rawson Properties Helderberg, means that the owner will be obliged to allow these service installations on and under his erf insofar as it may be necessary.

He says if a new installation is required or if changes are needed to an existing installation (for example that it is moved to allow the owner to make alterations to his property) the owner will have to bear the costs thereof.

Van der Merwe says electrical installations are regulated by the Electrical Installation Regulations, which form part of the Occupational Health and Safety Act.

He says overhead power transmission lines are classified by range of voltage.

“Low voltage will generally be used for a connection between a residential customer and the electrical utility. However, even lines classified as ‘low voltage’ can be hazardous and could lead to electrocution.”

According to Van der Merwe, this is the reason why the municipality would require the reader to keep the three-metre distance when he makes alterations to his property.

“The reader may consider approaching the municipality for permission to redirect or alter the power lines so that he may build a second storey, but, if permission is granted, he will have to bear the costs of moving or altering the power line.”

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