In cities and urban areas, it’s not uncommon to see houses marked for demolition by government authorities. For instance, in May 2023 the Lagos State Government demolished 13 houses in Ajao estate, the reason being that they were illegally constructed on fuel pipelines. While this drastic step is taken for various reasons, there are recurring themes behind these actions. In this blog post, we’ll discuss 10 common reasons why most houses end up being demolished by the government.
1. Structural Dilapidation:
Older buildings may suffer from structural decay and instability, making them unsafe for occupants and passersby. Governments prioritize public safety, leading to the demolition of such structures.
2. Unsafe Living Conditions:
Inadequate living conditions, including poor sanitation, overcrowding, and lack of basic utilities, can render a house unfit for habitation. Governments step in to protect the health and well-being of residents.
3. Zoning Violations:
When property owners violate zoning regulations by using their properties for purposes not permitted by local ordinances, government intervention becomes necessary to restore order.
4. Unpaid Property Taxes:
Failure to pay property taxes can result in the government seizing and demolishing the property to recover the unpaid taxes.
5. Urban Redevelopment:
In cases of urban renewal and development projects, older structures may be demolished to make way for new infrastructure, such as roads, parks, or commercial buildings.
6. Historical Preservation:
While governments often aim to preserve historical landmarks, neglected historical buildings may face demolition if restoration efforts prove unsuccessful or too costly.
7. Environmental Hazards:
Houses contaminated with hazardous materials like lead, asbestos, or mold pose significant health risks. In such cases, demolition is considered the safest option.
8. Fire Damage:
Extensive fire damage can compromise a building’s integrity, making it necessary for the government to remove the structure to prevent potential hazards.
9. Public Nuisance:
Properties that become havens for criminal activity or public disturbances may be demolished as part of a strategy to improve neighborhood safety.
10. Eminent Domain:
Governments can exercise eminent domain to acquire private properties for public use, such as building highways or public facilities, often resulting in the demolition of affected homes.
The law advises that demolition permit should be sought and collected prior to any demolition exercise as it allows the affected persons to be duly compensated. But this permit will only be issued on the basis of an important reason for demolition. This permit is essential to avoid any legal issue and ensure safety during demolition projects.
The demolition of houses by the government is a complex and often controversial process. While it’s essential to ensure public safety, protect the environment, and facilitate urban development, it’s equally important to balance these interests with the rights and well-being of property owners and communities. Understanding the common reasons behind government-ordered demolitions sheds light on the intricate challenges faced by city planners and policymakers in urban environments.