Trustees need to resolve disputes the right way

Sectional title trustees need to be careful not to overstep the mark when attempting to get unit owners or tenants to comply with the conduct rules of their scheme,or to pay outstanding levies and utility charges.
“Disputes do of course arise in sectional title schemes, as in all communities,” says Andrew Schaefer,MD of leading national property management company Trafalgar, “but the trustees and managing agents need to remember that it is usually only a minority of residents that will cause problems, and that it is in the interests of the scheme as a whole to resolve these as quietly and efficiently as possible.
“When it comes to levies, for example, they should stick to the provisions of the Sectional Titles Act, which is unequivocal about how and when levies must be paid by every owner – and also about what legal course the trustees are obliged to follow and what legal costs they can recover when an owner defaults and gets into arrears,” he says.
As for disputes about other issues that can be problematic in sectional title schemes, such as noise, parking in the wrong place, unauthorised alterations and water and electricity usage, Schaefer says it is always advisable for the trustees to try to resolve these through negotiation before taking any other action.
“Where this does not work, the Sectional Titles Act does also provide for arbitration rather than court action, but because this can now also be quite costly, many trustees have turned to other measures that can work well. These include wheel clamping for parking transgressions and imposing fines for other conduct rule contraventions, but it is very important that these be handled correctly.”
Wheel clamping, for example, is only allowed if it has been provided for in the conduct rules applicable to that scheme, and if someone will be available at all hours to unclamp the vehicle, he says.
“Similarly, fines can only be imposed if a new rule to that effect has been added to the scheme’s conduct rules and properly filed with the Deeds Office (or the Community Schemes Ombudsman in future). The fines must also be reasonable and only imposed after both sides of a dispute have been considered.”
Changing the rules of a scheme, Schaefer notes, requires at least 75% of the owners to agree. “But this is not usually that hard to achieve since most owners, and tenants, understand that the rules are there as a guide to harmonious living and therefore to their own benefit.”
Meanwhile, it is worth noting that it is illegal to block any resident’s access to the complex or their unit, or to cut off water or power supplies when utility bills have not been paid, he says.

  Comment on this Article

  Please login to post comments

Post to my facebook wall
Characters remaining

    Latest Property News
    • 17 Nov 2017
      FWJK has announced the launch of its latest residential brand, the Lil’ Apple, which will be launched simultaneously in two developments in Cape Town and Umhlanga totaling 600 apartments. The Lil’ Apple is set to be a brand of FWJK’s New York style apartments which will be rolled out nationally.
    • 17 Nov 2017
      It’s been a tumultuous year on many fronts, with socio-political uncertainty setting the tone for much of South Africa’s economic activity yet despite this and seemingly counter-intuitively, the residential property market has held up well.
    • 17 Nov 2017
      The EAAB (the Estate Agency Affairs Board) recently claimed that around 50,000 illegal estate agents could currently be operating illegally.
    • 16 Nov 2017
      Penthouses are synonymous with New York – characterised by high-rise living that is decidedly luxurious and spacious. While exclusivity comes at a price, you can still create a “penthouse” look and feel in your existing apartment or even the upstairs bedroom of a double storey house with some clever design changes and styling touches.
    • 16 Nov 2017
      The area has long been popular with kite surfers and, with escalating property prices in Cape Town itself, is increasingly in demand with home owners who work in town, but are looking to invest in more affordable properties.
    • 16 Nov 2017
      Cape Town’s popularity as a world-class tourist destination has resulted in a spike in the number of homes available for holiday lets and fuelled investor demand for sectional title units with short term rental potential.
    • 15 Nov 2017
      Sappi, one of South Africa’s oldest global companies and a leading global supplier of sustainable woodfibre products, has moved its global and regional headquarters to a new site on the corner of Oxford and 14th Avenue in Rosebank.
    • 15 Nov 2017
      There’s an old saying in real estate that you should seek to make a profit when you buy, not only when you sell – and a large part of succeeding at that endeavour is buying a home in an area with desirable features that will enhance the resale value of your property.
    Subscribe to the MyProperty Newsletter

    Last Name  
    Email Address  
    Email Frequency
    Share this Page

    For Sale Property
    Rental Property
    More Options
    Connect with us