The rules South Africans living in complexes should know about

If the owners in a specific sectional title scheme want to make new ‘house rules’ for their scheme, it’s very important that they follow the correct procedure, says Berry Everitt, chief executive officer of the Chas Everitt International property group.

Everitt said that there are two standard sets of rules that apply to all sectional title schemes – the Prescribed Management Rules and the Prescribed Conduct Rules that are contained in annexures to the Sectional Title Schemes Management Act (STSMA).

“The former regulate the management of the scheme and its finances by the body corporate, its elected trustees and any managing agent they appoint, while the latter regulate the behaviour of owners and tenants and are intended to promote harmonious living,” he said.

The prescribed conduct rules cover such matters as:

  • The keeping of pets;
  • The disposal of refuse;
  • Parking on the common property;
  • Changes or damage to the common property;
  • Changes to the appearance of individual sections;
  • The storage of flammable materials;
  • Any behaviour by occupants and visitors that might interfere with an owner or tenant’s peaceful enjoyment of their section or the common property.

However,  every sectional title scheme is different, and for that reason, the STSMA does also make provision for owners (the body corporate) to make changes to these standard rules – or to add new ones specific to a particular scheme, Everitt said.

“Owners may wish to create a specific rule dealing with the hours of use of a swimming pool, tennis court or braai facilities, for example, or one limiting the number of people that can attend a party or other social gathering at a single unit.

“In a scheme where most of the owners are senior citizens, they may want to create a rule governing the behaviour of children at certain times or in certain areas such as stairwells or passageways.

“Meanwhile, owners in a scheme located in holiday areas may well want to create a rule prohibiting short-term or Airbnb letting that they feel could compromise their security systems.”

Special resolution

Everitt said that such amendments to the standard rules can be useful because they seek to anticipate, or eliminate possible sources of disagreement and dispute among occupants of the scheme.

“However, owners need to be careful that any proposed amendment does not conflict with the prescribed management rules, is reasonable and applies to all owners.

“They must also ensure that it is formally passed by a special resolution of the body corporate and then approved by and filed with the Community Housing Schemes Ombud. If they don’t do this, it will not be enforceable.”

Everitt said that a special resolution means either a resolution passed by at least 75% (in value and number) of the votes of the members of a body corporate who are represented at a general meeting, or agreed to in writing by members of a body corporate holding at least 75% (in value and number) of all the votes.

In addition, when a special resolution is to be taken at a meeting, the body corporate must give all members 30 days’ written notice specifying the proposed resolution, he said.

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The rules South Africans living in complexes should know about