While Cape Town should have enough water to last through to winter 2019 without the need for rationing, authorities have stated that restrictions will only be fully lifted if the dams hit 85% full.
In the meantime, the city is taking a conservative approach to water management to achieve better resiliency both now and in the future.
As part of this resiliency strategy, several amendments have been made to the water by-laws, one of which could have a direct effect on certain community living schemes, says Schalk van der Merwe of Rawson Properties.
“There were quite a few new water regulations that raised the eyebrows and blood-pressures of homeowners in Cape Town, but most only apply to new-builds and renovations – people aren’t expected to proactively retrofit their homes to achieve compliance,” Van der Merwe said.
“Unfortunately, that’s not the case with the new clause that requires landlords keep separate records of consumption for each residential unit in multi-tenanted complexes and report any abuse of water restrictions to the authorities.”
The problem with this requirement, Van der Merwe said, is that many community living schemes currently supply water to their residents in bulk, charging each unit a fixed water fee as part of their levies. This method will no longer be appropriate under the new by-laws, as it does not allow for monitoring of individual units’ water usage to prevent the contravention of restrictions.
“To enable landlords to fulfil these obligations, homeowners’ associations and sectional title schemes will need to install water metres for every household in the near future,” said Van der Merwe.
“This can be a pretty expensive endeavour, and is unlikely to have been budgeted for in the scheme financials, which means a lot of schemes are going to have to dig into their reserves or impose a special levy.”
As a result, Van der Merwe warned owners of properties in schemes of this type to brace for some unexpected short-term expenses. He also recommends potential buyers inquire about the impact of this legislation as part of their research into scheme management before making an offer to purchase.
“Complying with the new bylaws might be a bit painful in the short term,” he said, “but from a big picture perspective, I do believe it’s the responsible thing to do. Becoming a more responsible and water-resilient city will benefit all of us in the long-term, and the short-term expenses will more than pay for themselves if they help us rekindle the desirability of Cape Town property.”