Pets in Community Schemes
In this article, we touch on the subject of pets in Sectional Title Complexes and Homeowners Associations.
Pets: This is one of the most debatable subjects any BC or HOA will have to deal with and mainly comes into play in the conduct rules of the BC and HOA. These conduct rules act as a medium through which the complexes are regulated. To be fair, without conduct rules everything will fall into chaos, resulting in an environment that no one wants to live in.
The Sectional Title Act 95 of 1986 Annexure 9 provides that the keeping of pets is allowed, this rule is also applied to complexes regulated by a Homeowners Association however, the rule is subject to prior written consent from the trustees. The rule states that the trustees may not unreasonably withhold their consent, but have the right to impose certain conditions for keeping a pet permitted the conditions are reasonable. A general example of this would be that all owners or occupiers are required to clean up after their pet, especially if the pet messes on common property.
As South Africans we are generally pet owners and as such the responsibility falls to the trustees/directors to apply their minds to each application request. Notwithstanding the responsibility of the trustees/directors, owners and occupiers are not without responsibility. Once written consent has been given to keep a pet, all owners and occupiers are required to abide by the conditions set forth by the trustees at all times, failing to do so may result in the trustees withdrawing the consent. Once the consent has been withdrawn, an owner or occupier will be notified in writing and must remove the pet from the premises within a pre-determined time.
Although the Sectional Title Act states that the keeping of a pet is allowed, it must be noted that it does not supersede the conduct rules of the complex. Some complexes have a “no pets policy” whereby the keeping of a pet is strictly prohibited. If a complex has a no pets policy, one needs to keep in mind that the rules weren’t simply changed on a whim. The rule was passed through a Special Resolution, what this means is at least 75% of all owners must give their consent before a rule can be changed. In other words, if the complex has a no pets policy it means that at least 75% of all owners do not want pets in the complex.
Many may argue that a no pets policy is a direct infringement on their constitutional rights, but what they perhaps fail to realise is, it is also within their rights not to buy or occupy a unit within a Sectional Title or Homeowners Association complex with a no pets policy. Ultimately, the responsibility falls to the potential owner or occupier to familiarise themselves with the Conduct Rules of the complex before making a legally binding decision.
Application to Keep a Pet
When applying for permission to keep a pet, the following must be applied:
An owner of a section must request approval from the trustees/directors in writing before getting a pet.
On the application form, state the breed of the animal and the size of the animal when fully grown.
A tenant must obtain approval from the unit owner to keep a pet.
An owner must apply for approval on behalf of his/her tenant.
When will an application be denied?
The trustees/directors reserve the right to deny an application when:
A pet is aggressive
A pet barks excessively
A pet is a nuisance to other residents
A pet is not being cared for properly
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