May 9, 2017
Behave Yourself! Sectional Title Law Areas of Conduct
Sectional title law no 5 – Conduct prescribed or proscribed by law
In our articles on sectional title law, we have looked at the role of the trustees in a complex, the rules for general meetings of owners and the role of the Chair, financial management and record-keeping, and the role and duties of managing agents. In the last in this series we cover the types of conduct within a sectional title scheme that the law sees fit to specifically mandate.
In general, the legislation allows trustees and the body corporate a high degree of autonomy in the governance and administration of a scheme. However, the Sectional Title Schemes Management Regulations see fit to specify certain areas of conduct with a social impact where prescribed rules may help to protect the majority from the excesses or negligence of a minority of members. Let’s examine what those rules of conduct are (prescribed in Section 10(2)(b)).
Pets and other animals
Owners (or occupiers) are entitled to keep pets on their property, with the consent of the trustees. The trustees should not unreasonably refuse permission to have a pet, but they can expect any animals to be kept in suitable conditions, and are within their rights to withdraw consent if they feel the animal in question is not being properly housed and maintained. Any scheme member with a disability, such as impaired vision, who requires an animal for therapeutic assistance, can assume trustees’ consent without seeking it explicitly.
This section of the guidelines describes behaviour that should be common sense and common courtesy; but disputes arise regularly in residential neighbourhoods over rubbish bins and waste disposal practices, so the legislators have included rules of conduct regarding refuse for good measure. All scheme members are responsible for procuring their own refuse bin, which must then be kept clean and dry, in a designated area of the common property. No one may leave rubbish where it may cause an obstruction or nuisance (such as unpleasant odour), and bins must be put out for collection and brought back in at the appropriate times. Refuse must be disposed of hygienically and must not pose a health and safety risk to other scheme members. Like we said…common sense!
Vehicles must be parked in designated bays or parking areas, usually numbered according to unit numbers. Visitors must park in specified visitors’ parking areas and scheme members are responsible for ensuring their visitors comply. Vehicles must not cause obstruction on common property at any time. More common sense!
Damage to common property
Common property must not be defaced, therefore no occupier may mark common walls or insert nails or screws. The law does permit security devices to protect against intruders and screens to keep animals and insects out, as long as these have been properly installed. Trustees’ consent for these devices can be assumed, as long as the installations are in line with materials approved by the body corporate.
Appearance of section and exclusive use area
Members are expected to keep the appearance of common areas as they found it. Washing lines may not be put up on common property nor signs posted, etc. The law allows for these alterations with the trustees’ consent, but realistically most schemes do not want to see common areas despoiled.
Storage of flammable materials
Standard materials such as gas cylinders for domestic heating and fuel tanks for generators and vehicles are permitted. Beyond that, any flammable materials may only be stored on the property with the trustees’ express permission.
Behaviour of occupiers and visitors
To ensure peaceful co-existence for all residents of a complex, the law makes explicit provision for neighbourly conduct. In other words, noise must be kept to a reasonable level, no occupier should obstruct another’s use or enjoyment of common property in any way, and all visitors must observe the same rules. Common courtesy.
Every owner is responsible for ensuring their unit is free from wood-destroying pests, e.g. termites, white ants, borer beetles. Trustees are entitled to inspect premises and can insist that appropriate remedial action be taken if there is an infestation. The owner must cover the cost of any inspection and replacement of woodwork, etc.
As we said at the outset, these rules of conduct are self-evident. But because they cover behaviour so fundamental to quality of daily life, the lawmakers have spelled things out for the avoidance of doubt. If you have any questions regarding enforcement of these rules of conduct or if you have encountered a breach and are unsure how to tackle it, give Simon a call on 087 550 2740 or 076 116 0623 or contact us. SD Law & Associates are specialists in property management and sectional title law and will give you expert advice promptly and efficiently.
To view the full set of regulations visit www.nama.org.za