|Buyers beware lifestyle rules in S/T schemes |
Those buying into sectional title schemes should be aware that, although all schemes are subject to the same state legislation, they have widely differing sets of lifestyle rules which, in most cases, emanate from the body corporate.
These rules are of often not publicised by the sales agents.
Paddy Herbert, Marketing Director of Propell Levy Finance, warns that these “house” rules can be a source of disagreement and conflict.
“There will,” he said, “always be one or two sectional title members who find certain of the rules irksome. Generally, sectional title living suits the more conformist, the not rebellious personality. If you know yourself to be in the latter category, it is probably best to avoid a sectional title scheme.”
Rules relating to pets - especially which kind, if any, can be kept - are often difficult, as are rules regarding guests’ parking, permissible noise levels, late night lighting and alterations and additions.
“A purchaser who bought a flat with an enclosed verandah discovered he was not allowed to open it because the rules do not allow for that. Others have found that restrictions on colours and materials used in redecoration can be a real problem,” said Herbert.
Many of the subjects over which sectional title members come into conflict with other members and their body corporate are, to an external observer, of very little importance - but it has been shown time and again that they can wreck the member’s enjoyment of this communal lifestyle.
“It is therefore essential to investigate and obtain a copy of the body corporate rules before buying a unit,” said Herbert. “It is also important to try and get a profile of who your fellow members are likely to be.”
Once you have bought, said Herbert, if you find that you disagree with the rules, the right move is to attend body corporate meetings - you are legally permitted to do this - and, if necessary, lobby fellow members to join you in a campaign to get the rules changed at an annual general meeting.
“All too often the professional moaners who decry the rules most loudly are actually those most reluctant to attend meetings,” he said.
In general, said Herbert, the advantages of sectional title living far outweigh the disadvantages and the popularity and affordability of this type of accommodation are resulting in price increases in this sector being faster than that of any other residential sector in South Africa today.