Modern city living puts the squeeze on furry family members

Demand for pet-friendly accommodation is steadily growing, but as residential space in cities shrinks prospective owners and tenants are increasingly battling sectional title body corporate rules in order to keep their furry family members with them when they move.

That’s according to Lew Geffen Sotheby’s International Realty Director Sandy Geffen, who says across South Africa there is a massive market – and need – for properties that are more pet-friendly.

“This is an issue across both the purchase and rental markets,” says Geffen, “and most animal lovers view it as scandalous if a complex or cluster development has an outright ban on residents keeping pets.”

She says a surprising number of sectional title complexes – even those with garden units – have stringent rules pertaining to the keeping of any pets larger than hamsters.

“In the case of investment properties, tenants will often complain to rental agents that their landlords are the bad guys, but in sectional title developments in general landlords get to set very few rules.

“Tenants need to understand that it is the Trustees who establish the Schedule of Conduct Rules of the estate or complex and the managing agent or body corporate merely enforces them.

“Managing agents, particularly, don’t have the power to change or ‘bend’ a sectional title development’s Schedule of Conduct Rules to admit pets – something we’re often asked to do.”

Geffen says many complexes and estates are reluctant to permit pets for numerous reasons.

“Several species of birds are considered to be noisy and cause a mess, and cats tend to stray onto other people’s properties, which can be problematic and cause conflict among neighbours. In our experience several very unneighbourly wars have been started by wandering cats, particularly when the felines choose to use other gardens as their personal bathrooms.

“The noise factor is a major concern in the case of dogs, because they are often left unattended all day while people are at work and most will bark or howl at some stage. Some even get aggressive. A number of rural estates with free-roaming small game also bar dogs because of the threat they present to the wildlife.

“Problem animals will cause Trustees to take action against their owners, which can get very ugly. Residents could find themselves liable for fines, and Trustees can insist that the animals be removed.

“This is hugely traumatic for most people who consider pets to be part of their families, and it’s even worse when there are children involved who are devoted to their four-legged companions.”

Geffen says that’s one of the many reasons it is critical for potential buyers and prospective tenants to read and understand an estate or complex’s Schedule of Conduct Rules before they commit to moving in, because it’s extremely difficult to get them changed afterwards.

“Everybody has different morals, ethics and standards. If you’re a regular midnight skinny dipper, for instance, then a complex with a communal swimming pool is probably not the right home for you.”

But Geffen says while she understands that the close quarters densification has forced on urban dwellers means rules and regulations are essential to maintain general order, the fact remains that there are more than 10 million pets in South Africa, most owned by people who adore them.

“More than R5 billion is spent on pet food annually in this country. That is a huge amount on a ‘non-essential’ expense – especially in the current economy – and the people who spend this money by and large have the means to buy or rent decent homes.

“There is undeniably a shortage of pet-friendly sectional title property available across the country, and freehold landlords are also rejecting a massive pool of potentially superb tenants if they insist on the no pet rule.”

Geffen says landlords who own houses are often fearful that pets will destroy gardens or carpets, “but that’s why tenants pay security deposits”.

She says if landlords are particularly concerned about pet damage they could also include a specific clause to that effect in their lease agreement, making tenants responsible for the cost of repairing any damage caused by their animals.

“In such a tight national economy when bonds still have to be serviced and rental properties can’t stand vacant for months while the perfect pet-free tenant is sought, the only really sensible reason for landlords of houses to reject applications from people with pets is if they’re letting their properties fully furnished. The cumulative cost of the damage could then outweigh the security deposit and the homeowner might end up seriously out of pocket.”

In conclusion Geffen says there is no doubt that densification is the future face of every city in South Africa, just as surely as people will continue to want to keep pets.

“Somewhere along the line there is going to have to be more compromise because neither cluster housing nor pets will be going away time soon. If Trustees and landlords want to maintain standards by having their choice of the most desirable residents out of the entire pool of home seekers in the country rather than simply the best of those who don’t own animals, then more flexibility is going to be needed in the property marketplace.

  Comment on this Article

  Please login to post comments

Post to my facebook wall
Characters remaining

    Latest Property News
    • 20 Feb 2018
      Owning a home is a milestone that most South Africans aspire to. Becoming a homeowner is a step towards growing personal wealth and owning an asset that appreciates in value over time, provided of course that the correct principles are applied during the buying stage of the process, says Adrian Goslett, Regional Director and CEO of RE/MAX of Southern Africa.
    • 20 Feb 2018
      The suburb of Greenstone in Johannesburg east came to be over the last two decades. “In the beginning, it was literally just a hill with not so much as a shopping centre,” says Michael Levy, Property Consultant at Jawitz Properties Bedfordview. Today it has plenty shopping facilities and is fully built, boasting high-density, upmarket housing and residential estates, though still has a few pockets poised for commercial development.
    • 20 Feb 2018
      A major shift in the ageing paradigm has precipitated an equally dramatic transformation in the retirement sector, with modern accommodation options worlds away from the conventional model.
    • 19 Feb 2018
      Possibly one of the biggest sources of contention between landlords and tenants surrounds the rental deposit. “Most tenants rely on getting their rental deposits back when moving, so that they can use it to pay a deposit on their new home. Having it withheld or even having large amounts deducted can lead to a lot of distress,” explains Bruce Swain, CEO of Leapfrog Property Group.
    • 19 Feb 2018
      Situated approximately halfway between Johannesburg and Pretoria, Midrand was established in 1981 and forms part of the City of Johannesburg Metropolitan Municipality. It has become one of the major business hubs in the country with major pharmaceutical, textile, telecommunication and motoring giants situated within its boundaries.
    • 19 Feb 2018
      The PayProp Rental Index Annual Review of 2017 shows that the rental market suffered from much volatility during the year. It kicked off with rental growth spiking in January with weighted year-on-year growth (YoY) growth peaking at 8.3% before dropping to 6.34% in July, dipping down to less than 5% in November and then experiencing a slight uptick at 5.75% in December.
    • 19 Feb 2018
      While most homes in cluster complexes, estates and other gated communities come with at least one garage or carport, residents would often like additional permanent parking or storage areas for things like trailers, bikes, boats and caravans.
    • 16 Feb 2018
      Whether you own a property in a sectional title complex or are looking to invest in one, the financial standing of the body corporate is the single most important thing that can affect your investment or your buying decision.
    Subscribe to the MyProperty Newsletter

    Last Name  
    Email Address  
    Email Frequency
    Share this Page

    For Sale Property
    Rental Property
    More Options
    Connect with us