What would happen if you chose to erect a security gate at your property within a South African Sectional Title Scheme that, it turns out, does not comply with the directives of the Body Corporate?
Would you remove it, or keep it? Who would you expect to cover the legal costs when this matter goes to court a few times over the course of the next few years? This exact situation played out in a Cape Town-based Sectional Title Scheme and has cost all role-players hundreds of thousands of rands.
“More than 20 million South Africans reside in 78 000+ Sectional Title Scheme across the country, representing over R800 billion in managed assets. As such, it’s very important that owners and trustees know and understand the Sectional Titles Schemes Management Act,” explains Pearl Scheltema, CEO of Fitzanne Estates.
Up until now, the best form of recourse owners and trustees had to rectify any issues that arose with regard to the practical application of the Act, was to refer the matter to the Community Schemes Ombud Service (CSOS).
However, recent probes by the Western Cape Deputy Shadow Minister for Human Settlements, Water and Sanitation, Ms. Emma Louise Powell, have confirmed ongoing accusations that CSOS, under the direction of Chief Ombud and CEO, Adv Boyce Mkhize, has been failing in their directive to regulate the conduct of parties within community schemes and to ensure their good governance.
Scheltema recently discussed the ongoing investigation with Zerlinda Van der Merwe, co-founder of TVDM Consultants, on Fizanne’s Property Exchange. According to Van der Merwe, who attended a meeting with Advocate Boyce Mkhize, the Minister, and Willie Roos from Stratafin (a company that provides Sectional Title finance for Body Corporates), CSOS was undeniably put to terms.
“Some of the CSOS complaint matters were discussed included adjudication orders that were procedurally incorrect and subject to appeals, a lot of applications for dispute regulations that weren’t dealt with correctly, issues with POPI interpretation, levy collection matters, substantive issues, as well as procedural issues.
“They have now been working on it since April with the Minister following up regularly. The later updates have been very open and transparent making it quite clear that the CSOS was underestimating the depths of the issues that were facing them. They are meeting frequently and addressing the matter very comprehensively,” Van der Merwe explains.
However, since CSOS keeps pushing out the date on the resolution of the issues that were put to the table, the DA is now preparing to lead court action against CSOS for various matters, including the failure to appoint the advisory council that should have already been set up at the establishment of the legislation in 2016. This essentially leaves Sectional Title Scheme owners and trustees to fend for themselves when disputes arise in the meantime.
“The golden rule in any complex in terms of the Sectional Titles Schemes Management Act is that all rules must be reasonable and applied consistently for all owners. However, in many cases, scheme rules can be illegal, unenforceable, unconstitutional, and ill-considered. Therefore, it’s so important that trustees receive the proper training,” says Scheltema.
In short, it is extremely important that trustees of Sectional Title Schemes in South Africa know and understand the Sectional Titles Schemes Management Act, and how best to apply it in practice. Offering affordable, modular training for sectional title executives can make all the difference in the day-to-day running and profitability of Sectional Title Schemes, and obligation-free quotes are available.
Until next time, keep your eye on our platforms for more helpful insights on the management of your properties as a landlord, property owner, and property investor in South Africa.
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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