Planned changes for South Africa’s complexes and other sectional titles

Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development minister Thoko Didiza has introduced the Sectional Titles Bill to parliament, with the draft legislation set to provide clarity and give additional protections to tenants and other people who hold the lease of a property.

Overall, the bill introduces a number of additional regulations for both tenants and sectional title managers on issues ranging from extensions to common property. The changes are mainly directed at managers and HOAs, but will have an impact on tenants.

An explanatory memorandum published on the department’s website outlines some of the key proposed changes as follow:

  • Make it a requirement for developers to have a meeting with every lessee of a building in instances where part of such building is to be wholly or partially let for residential purposes. to answer questions put to the developer by the agents of the lessees;
  • Provide that a certificate issued by an architect or a land surveyor must also comply with section 26(2) of the Spatial Planning and Land Use Management Act (where land is only allowed to be used for the permitted purposes);
  • Provide for the amendment of sectional plans in respect of exclusive use areas;
  • Provide for a developer to submit a plan for subdivision or consolidation to the surveyor-general for approval to subdivide, consolidate and to extend a section.

The bill also introduces a number of administrative requirements around issues such as sub-divisions and extension plans.

Privacy rules 

South Africa’s community housing schemes are also expected to ensure that their record-keeping systems are compliant with the Protection of Personal Information (POPI) Act which became effective on 1 July 2020.

These schemes have until 30 June 2021 to ensure complete compliance, said Andrew Schaefer, managing director of national property management company Trafalgar.

Schaefer says that it is also important for owners and occupiers in sectional title schemes and gated developments run by Home Owners’ Associations (HOAs) to understand that the new act does not make it illegal for the trustees or directors to collect their personal information, or to request certain personal details from visitors to their schemes in the interests of security.

“Of course everyone in South Africa has the right to privacy, as provided for in Section 14 of our Constitution, and the POPI Act actually amplifies that right with provisions intended to protect consumers against identity theft as well as the unauthorised use or sale of their personal information for any purpose, including the creation of databases for marketing and sales campaigns,” he said.

“However, the new legislation does not stipulate that personal information cannot be collected – only that when it is collected, it must be properly managed and protected.”

Schaefer said that this is especially pertinent in community housing schemes, he says, where the trustees, directors and managing agents have to keep a significant amount of personal information about owners and tenants on record to:

  • Send levy accounts and statements to the correct people;
  • Allocate payments correctly;
  • Send out communications about the annual budget, the AGM and other body corporate or HOA meetings;
  • Facilitate communications with owners and tenants regarding security issues or in an emergency such as the recent Covid-19 lockdown; and
  • Take swift action in the event of levy defaults.

Read: What you need to know if you run a small business from home in a complex or residential estate in South Africa

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Planned changes for South Africa’s complexes and other sectional titles