Dealing with difficult people in sectional titles

“Throughout our lives, we deal with people we do not like. After school and work, you can leave those pesky people behind and not have to deal with them in your “down time”. Unfortunately, this is not the case in sectional title: these “pesky people” are often your neighbours or a trustee and you have no option but to deal with them,” says Jennifer Paddock from Paddocks.

The conduct of owners in sectional title schemes is regulated by the Sectional Titles Act 95 of 1986 (the Act), and either the prescribed rules or other rules made in terms of the Act and applicable to the scheme in question

Schemes are able to make their own conduct rules, by special resolution, which regulate the behaviour of their owners and occupiers. These rules must be reasonable and apply equally to all owners of units put to substantially the same purpose.

If an owner is in breach of the rules of the scheme, then, according to the prescribed rules, he or she will not be able to vote for general resolutions at any general meeting. However, the rule does not prevent the owner from voting in any special or unanimous resolutions. Also, if the owner’s bondholder has made its interest known, it can vote for the general resolutions at general meetings that the owner is not able to vote for. So this really is not much of a deterrent to bad behaviour.

It is advisable to be more considerate of your neighbours than you would be in freehold title, firstly because it is so much easier to annoy them, and secondly because you may well need their support in the future.

While it is not unusual for people to think that making very extensive rules covering every conceivable eventuality will make scheme life better, long and complex sets of rules are often ignored. Short, clear and appropriate rules have the best chance of being effective.

Jennifer Paddock is a sectional title expert. Paddocks, a specialist sectional title and HOA training firm, has launched Paddocks Club – an exclusive online community where you can ask for advice and support on your sectional title issues.

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