It’s not only Eskom or municipalities that have the authority to disconnect electricity; landlords and Body Corporates can now obtain the authority too. The laborious debt collection process has been the only approach that these parties could utilize in collecting arrear levies, utilities in the sectional title scheme until recently.
It’s a common scenario that entails judgments and attachments taking years to be effected. The time that may be taken to acquire a judgment can also result in arrear levies increments exponentially.
Until recently, Body Corporates did not have the authority to disconnect utilities for prolonged non-payments. A property letting agent comments, “A recent case that involves, Peter Mennen, an associate of SSLR Inc. and Michelle Dickens, the MD of TPN Credit Bureau got a breakthrough in their court case.
The application that was launched by Dickens and Mennen in the South Gauteng court involved a claim for R67,937.58 that was owed to the body corporate. The claim stated that should the owner’s failure to settle the debt immediately and in full, the Body Corporate would have the power to terminate the electricity supply and restrict water supply to only 6KL per month.
He added, “The judge held that for individuals and juristic entities, the argument stating that utility supply must be subsidized when the occupant refuses to make payments legitimately owned was without merit.”
No body corporate or person can be anticipated to subsidize the utility supply to premises where the resident of the premises is in fact indebted to refund the owner, or body corporate for the usage on the premises. The judgment gave owners the right to moderate damages and collect outstanding amounts.
The application that was heard on 11 November 2015 favoured the body corporate and ordered immediate payment of all areas. The court also noted that a contractor may be hired to do the disconnecting, if the payment of the outstanding monies is not paid in full.
The letting agent also explained that although the South African economic environment is mostly consumer driven and the tenants have ample protection, the courts are now taking into account economic realities.
Hence, they are now considering Landlords, agents, as well as body corporates’ needs. However, it is vital to have a court order first before restricting or disconnecting any utilities for the residential, commercial or retail property.