Body Corporate Rules & Amendments
Some rules were made to be changed...
If you are the owner or trustee of a property in a sectional title scheme, you are automatically a member of the body corporate. Along with the owners of the other units, you are collectively responsible for the oversight and management of the communal areas of the scheme, such as parking spaces, playgrounds and swimming pools. A body corporate is established legally as soon as the first unit in a scheme is sold by the developer.
Each body corporate has a set of rules that all owners (and their tenants, if applicable) must abide by. As an owner, it makes sense for you to familiarise yourself with the rules that apply to your specific scheme.
For the common good
Body corporate rules focus on controlling the use of common areas, so that all scheme residents can benefit from them. The rules govern the management of these areas, and also the conduct of people using them.
The body corporate has a legal responsibility to administer and manage the common property within a scheme, in accordance with the Sectional Titles Schemes Management Act (STSMA), as updated in October 2016. This date is important in the context of these kinds of rules.
This Act specifies a set of prescribed rules that apply to all bodies corporate. Where a body corporate amended its rules prior to October 2016, any amendments would be recognised by STSMA. Unamended rules, however, were replaced with the new prescribed rules in the Act.
The process of changing body corporate rules involves a general meeting to which all members must be invited. Members of the body corporate can vote to approve substitute rules, amendments to existing rules, or even the repeal of a rule.
These proposed changes must meet the legal standard of being “fair and reasonable” to everyone in the scheme. This will be determined by the Community Schemes Ombud Service (CSOS) to which all changes must be submitted.
Are the changes valid?
Changes in rules become valid only when the CSOS issues a certificate to the body corporate. Until this point, the changes to the rules are not valid and cannot be enforced. Prior to October 2016, rule changes became valid once they were lodged with the Deeds Office, but this is no longer the case.
As well as issuing the necessary certificates, the CSOS checks the quality of documentation submitted.
Live and let live
Successful communal scheme living depends on people being good neighbours. They have a common interest in maintaining the appearance and functionality of shared areas, so in theory rules should not be necessary.
However, they do provide a useful framework to guide the behaviour of residents, and help avoid any grey areas or misunderstandings (tenants in particular may be blissfully unaware of their obligations under the rules of the sectional title scheme in which they are renting).
Of course, there is always the danger of the nightmare neighbour – someone whose conduct is inconsiderate enough that it impacts on other people’s enjoyment of the common areas in the scheme.
In such a case, it is the trustees of the scheme who bear the burden of enforcing the existing rules, and of making the necessary changes to curtail anti-social behaviour or take account of changes in circumstances that potentially affect all residents.
Every sectional title scheme is different, so there is no such thing as “one size fits all”. Amending the rules to ensure that they fit the unique circumstances of the scheme, and dealing with problematic owners or tenants, can become an excessive burden for trustees.
In these circumstances, it would be advisable to seek professional or legal advice, and have the amendments drawn up by an attorney that specialises in sectional title matters. This will ensure that the wording used meets the specific needs of the scheme. It will also assist with CSOS certification, and help to keep residents on their best behaviour.
For expert advice on sectional title schemes...
Contact Solver Property Services today for advice on any of the points covered in this newsletter. Alternatively, seek legal advice.
Disclaimer: Kindly note that the above article is merely for information, and is not intended to be comprehensive, to provide legal advice or to assist Community Schemes with the discharge of their fiduciary duties.Disclaimer: Kindly note that the above article is merely for information, and is not intended to be comprehensive, to provide legal advice or to assist Community Schemes with the discharge of their fiduciary duties.
Solver is amongst the larger property managing agent companies in South Africa and have been managing complexes effectively since 2005. High-rise sectional title buildings, Homeowners Associations, share blocks, apartments, we manage it all. For more information, please contact 010 822 2882. Solver Property Services has a team of experienced Property Managers / Managing Agents that can assist you.