Thinking Inside the Box

A Paddocks Sectional Title Lifestyle Blog

Sectional living – a tenant’s perspective

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By Zerlinda van der Merwe

I recently interviewed a colleague regarding her experience, living as a tenant, in sectional title schemes. Let’s call her Betty…

Betty has lived in two sectional title schemes, one as a student in Grahamstown, and the other once she started her career in Cape Town. Betty noted that her first scheme was “well-run”. “The lawns were always cut, the security guard was polite, the windows were cleaned regularly, the staff were trustworthy, and any issues seems to be resolved quickly.” “I never felt the need to read notices”, Betty added, “although the trustees often posted notices – mostly relating to parking”.

When Betty signed the lease to her second sectional title unit, she was referred to a set of “house rules”, which were not attached to her lease agreement. The Rental Housing Act 50 of 1999 defines “house rules”, in section 1, as the rules in relation to the control, management, administration, use and enjoyment of the rental housing property. Section 5(8) of the Rental Housing Act further provides that a copy of any house rules applicable to a dwelling must be attached as an annexure to the lease.

In terms of Prescribed Management Rule 69 of Annexure 8 of the Regulations to the Sectional Titles Act 95 of 1986, the provisions of the Management Rules and Conduct Rules, and the duties of the owner in relation to the use and occupation of sections and common property, shall be binding on the owner of any section and any lessee or other occupant of any section, and it shall be the duty of the owner to ensure compliance with the rules by his lessee or occupant, including employees, guests and any member of his family, his lessee or his occupant.

At this scheme, there were multiple security breaches – despite the fact that electric fencing and cameras were installed on the common property. Complaints were received about noisy residents, politics between owners and trustees, owner apathy, issues with trees and with parking – the lack thereof.

Despite the various issues experienced, Betty never complained because she knew that she too would be noisy at times, and that in order to be reasonable, some things should just be accepted. Besides, one of the trustees lived downstairs, and would always be available to deal with the complaints and rule contraventions before Betty felt the need to raise a concern.

Trustees are faced with the, at times difficult, duty to control, manage, and administer the common property for the benefit of all owners. Tenants, although not a registered member of a scheme, may, in terms of Prescribed Management Rule 5 of Annexure 8 of the Regulations to the Sectional Titles Act, be nominated and elected as a trustee in a scheme.

Although Betty does not currently live in a sectional title scheme, when asked if she would rent in a sectional title scheme again, she answered in the affirmative, and added that she would even consider purchasing a unit in a scheme one day.

In her search for the perfect unit in the perfect scheme, Betty advises that she will avoid a scheme in a “student area” and a scheme where the majority of residents are elderly, as these residents are seen as being less tolerant towards the other residents in the scheme. Betty would rather prefer a scheme with a range of different residents, in both age and ethnicity. Although Betty loves pets, she would prefer it if the scheme has a pet rule with conditions set for the keeping of pets within the scheme. Security is another important consideration for Betty, who would want a unit on, at least, the third or fourth floor, in a scheme with security guards, electric fencing and cameras. Betty would like a unit with a balcony, as well as secured and allocated parking, in a professional and well-managed scheme, but not necessarily one managed by a managing agent.

Betty confirms that before purchasing the unit of her dreams, she would diligently undertake some investigation into the administration and management of the body corporate, and will request the scheme’s registered rules and financials – and obtain my advice if needed.

As members of a scheme, trustees, and managing agents, we sometimes tend to forget that tenants and occupants of units play a large role in schemes, and contribute – positively and negatively – to harmonious living in a sectional title scheme.

Image source: housing.arlingtonva.us

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