Year-end functions, family time, Christmas tunes and decorations in retail malls, excitement about upcoming vacations, and, yes, crime all kick off the holiday season. It is a worldwide fact that crime rises dramatically over the holiday season as people have more free time, drink more alcohol, and leave their homes empty.
South Africa is no exception. As a result, every household should take safeguards at home.
The sense of security provided by a Sectional Title Scheme or estate is one of the many reasons it appeals to property owners. But what happens if your flat or house is broken into, and who is liable for the damage? Is it the Managing Agent, the Body Corporate, the Estate Manager, the security firm, or the security company?
Responsibility To Secure
According to Pearl Scheltema, CEO of Fitzanne Estates, in a Sectional Title Scheme, the owner is responsible for the inside of their unit up until the middle of the wall. The Body Corporate is then responsible for the regions outside the units up to the middle of the wall from the outside, i.e. the Body Corporate is responsible for the exterior of the unit while the owner is liable for the inside.
The owner of a section owns the home and can secure it with security gates, burglar bars, and alarm systems. The owner has the right to install burglar bars and security gates to secure their part. A security alarm system linked to an armed response firm may also be installed by the owner.
The Body Corporate and HOA are responsible for managing and maintaining the common property in a scheme. As a result, in addition to a security fence or boundary wall, the Body Corporate would be responsible for securing the complex with a proper security system or hiring a security company, in the event that these features form part of the offerings of the complex. Electrical fences, CCTV cameras, and access control gates are examples of security systems.
If a Body Corporate or HOA hires a security company, the contract of appointment will spell out what services the security company will perform and any exclusions for which the security company will not be held liable.
Maintaining Security Measures
The maintenance of the common property, including all fixtures and fittings that are part of the common property, is the responsibility of both Bodies Corporate and HOAs. As a result, security equipment and fixtures such as electric fences and access control systems are expected to be maintained by the Body Corporate or HOA.
It is the obligation of owners who have installed burglar bars, security gates, or security systems in their units or homes to maintain these fixtures and equipment; the Body Corporate or HOA is not responsible for this.
The Role of The Trustees and Managing Agent
The schemes’ affairs are managed by Trustees of Bodies Corporate and HOAs. In exchange, they may designate a Managing Agent to assist them with Body Corporate Management and in carrying out their responsibilities. The appointment of a Managing Agent for Body Corporate Management is contractual in nature, and it does not absolve Trustees of their responsibilities.
The Trustees must guarantee that the common property, as well as the fixtures and fittings, are maintained on a regular basis. The Managing Agent’s job is to help the Trustees in carrying out their duties.
Who Is Responsible in The Case of a Burglary?
The Sectional Title Schemes Management Act (STSMA) provides the Body Corporate no duty for ensuring adequate security measures, nor do they hold the Trustees accountable.
The memorandum of incorporation (MOI) governs HOAs, which may differ from estate to estate. It’s likely that an MOI gives Directors only limited authority to safeguard the estate’s residents’ safety.
As part of their due diligence of the complex, potential owners in Sectional Title Schemes like Bodies Corporate and HOAs should take note of the security measures placed in the complex as well as the unit or home they intend to acquire. They should raise their concerns with the Trustees once they have invested in the scheme and want to address insufficient security measures on the shared property.
We offer Body Corporate Management services over the whole of Gauteng. No scheme, complex, or estate is too big or too small for Fitzanne Estates’ capabilities. We understand that your home is your castle and needs effective, comprehensive property management. Property administration affects all aspects of one’s life and thus needs only experts to handle such matters. Contact us today to find out more about our Body Corporate Management services.
More about Fitzanne Estates
Fitzanne Estates (Pty) Ltd is a Property Management Company that can sufficiently administer your property investment to the benefit of the Landlord, the Body Corporate, and the NPC – Non-Profit Company. Services include Letting, Sectional Title Management, Full Title Management (NPC – Non-Profit Company) and Sales.
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