Regulating the behaviour of owners and occupiers in sectional titles schemes

Regulating the behaviour of owners and occupiers in sectional titles schemes

MAIN IMAGE: Graham Paddock is considered an authority on South African sectional title scheme management law.

By Graham Paddock

The owners and occupiers in residential sectional title schemes live close to one another and share the use of the common property, so their behaviour is subject to various types of regulation. The restrictions that apply to behaviour in sectional title schemes are found in the Sectional Titles Schemes Management Act 8 of 2011 (“the Act”) as well as in a scheme’s management and conduct rules.

In this article, I briefly examine the behavioural regulations in the Act and the prescribed rules and also discuss what additional types of provisions can be included in each of the two types of scheme rules.

Sectional Titles Schemes Management Act

The long title to the Act confirms that it exists “To provide for the establishment of bodies corporate to manage and regulate sections and common property in sectional titles schemes and for that purpose to apply rules applicable to such schemes; … .”

Sections 13(1)(d) and (e) are the only provisions in the Act that impose behavioural obligations on owners. In their use of the common property, owners must not unreasonably interfere with the rights of others. In addition, they must not use or permit the use of a section or an exclusive use area to cause a nuisance. In other words, owners must not cause or allow material prejudice to others in their use of their sectional property. Subject to this principle, to any other law and to the scheme rules dealt with below, owners are free to do what they like in the sections and exclusive use areas that are set aside for their private occupation, and to make reasonable use the common property.

Management rules

Management rules exist to specify in detail how the body corporate’s operations must be carried out and they also set out the rights and duties of its trustees and members. These rules, like the conduct rules dealt with below, must be reasonable and apply equally to all owners of units. The body corporate can amend and add provisions to its management rules by passing a unanimous resolution and having the new rules approved by the Community Schemes Ombud Service (CSOS). Any management rules made initially by the scheme developer or later by the body corporate must deal with body corporate management issues in a manner appropriate to the scheme.

Prescribed management rule 30 obliges the body corporate to take all reasonable steps to ensure that a member or any other occupier does not breach the provisions of the Act referred to above or use a section or exclusive use area irregularly.

In practice this means that the body corporate cannot ignore behaviour that is a nuisance or an unreasonable or illegal use of common property. If the body corporate, any member or other occupier is seriously prejudiced by such behaviour on an ongoing basis, the trustees must take active steps to deal with the issue.

In terms of prescribed management rule 3(2), a member is obliged to take all reasonable steps to ensure that his or her employees, tenants, guests, visitors and family members comply with the scheme’s conduct rules.

A body corporate cannot “entrench” a behavioural restraint on owners or occupiers of sections by including this in a management rule. Any rule that governs the conduct of owners or occupiers can only be included in the scheme’s conduct rules.

Conduct rules

A scheme’s conduct rules exist to regulate the behaviour of owners and occupiers, setting out their rights and in their use of sections and the common property.  These rules regulate a range of issues that have the potential to cause nuisances and dangers to others or to negatively impact the value of other properties in the scheme. The body corporate can amend its conduct rules by passing a special resolution and having the new rules approved by the CSOS.

The prescribed conduct rules cover the keeping of animals, reptiles and birds, refuse and waste disposal, vehicle parking, damage to common property, changes to the exterior appearance of sections and exclusive use areas, the storage of flammable materials, behaviour generally and the eradication of pests.

A body corporate can make additional conduct rules that deal with the behaviour of owners and occupiers in their use of their sections and the common property. Any such additional rule will be valid if it serves to regulate, in a manner appropriate to that scheme, a particular activity so as to ensure that it does not prejudice others in their use of their sections, exclusive use areas and other common property.

A provision that deals with the management or operations of the body corporate cannot be included in the scheme’s conduct rules, but must be passed and approved as a management rule.

About the author: Considered by many to be the authority on Sectional Title scheme management law and practice in South Africa, Prof. Graham Paddock has specialised in sectional title, home owners’ associations and other forms of community scheme law for over 40 years. If you have any sectional title questions, feel free to contact Paddocks via email at or on 021 686 3950, for a no-obligation quotation.

Showing 18 comments
  • Wendy Shawe

    I am hoping you will be able to assist us with a problem that has arisen in our Sectional Title block of flats. Some owners let out their flats to short term holiday makers. Under normal circumstances this is not a problem but occasionally and particularly very recently we have had to contend with loud noise from these people when they arrive home early in the morning … 3.30 am for example. This weekend when we confronted one of them the men became very cheeky. We have a point in our conduct rule stating that excessive noise will not be tolerated. My question is this….can our trustees stop short term holiday letting in our residential block. Thank you.

    • Helene Meissenheimer

      Hi Wendy, I am working on getting an expert legal opinion for you on this. Keep an eye out for this week’s Property Professional newsletter. Ed.

  • Sarah

    Good Morning,

    I am hoping you will provide some resolution to a problem I have with the estate agent of the complex i reside in. There are endless issues with the estate agents, they can never seem to find my payments made to them regarding my levy’s and water & lights bill, they also seem to add an ombudsman fee to my water bill, which never got answered to when the query was raised. The body corporate of my complex also do not seem to provide feedback when these issues are raised, regardless of the multiple emails sent. My question is, how do I deal with such unprofessional and seemingly very poor administration of my account (which i may add, i personally feel that are being mismanaged by both the body corporate & the estate agent)

    Thank You

  • Isabel

    We have a spouse (or ex spouse) of an owner in our complex. He is a non-owner.
    He interfere with everything, sending emails to managing agents demanding things and complaining about things that has nothing to do with him.
    Is he allowed to do that?
    As far as I understand, the MA does not have to communicate to him anything, only to the owner??

  • Shoba

    Good Day, I am a property owner in a sectional title property. The property has an existing unsheltered patio. We would like to put on a shelter as when it rains the water collects at the door.

    However the Body Corp says that we need to draw up a plan and get it registered at the Deeds Office. This was not done before and almost all the units have put up the same kind of shelter.

    Please advise me if this is the norm and do I need a plan certified by the Deeds Office to just put a roof over the existing patio?

  • Ena du Toit

    Who can I contact for professional advice or can I get advice on the questions hereunder on this platform?

    Additions and improvements and approvals thereof at sectional titles;

    Sectional titles and full titles in one complex – does a complex with this combination fall under the Sec Title Act;

    Does the Sectional Title Act 2011 “overrule” older constitutions in sec titles?

    Is the 80 % majority approval on additions and improvements in the Act applicable for all sectional title complexes?

  • Links

    Good day a unit owner in our complex recently installed a electric fence on the boundary wall between their unit and their neighbor surely this is not allowed as the boundary wall forms part of common property?

  • Jan Botha

    Hi we have asked the body corporate trustee for a free remote and they have refused. The second option is with cell phone only and now that is an issue as the gate is not opening some times. What can we do?

  • Lizette

    Good day, we are property owners in an estate and the estate rules stipulates one dog per yard, but it is not limited to one only, on application. We have applied prior to our move. The request was never looked at and only after 4 months of living in our house, did we receive letters from the body corporate stating we are only allowed one dog as per the conduct rules (even though it stipulates you can apply for more than one dog and they cannot refuse without good reason). One dog is 13 years old, weighs only 3.2kg and has a heart condition, the other one is 3 years old. We are not receiving any feedback after questioning penalties (same amount as monthly levy!) per month because of the 2 dogs on our property. Now we are refused any voting rights on the AGM because we refuse to pay the penalties (it has not been resolved…. why should we be fined if there is no resolution?). Should we get a legal opinion on the matter? Can they refuse us voting rights or discussion of this exact point on the AGM because we refuse to pay our fines (which is still not applicable due to non resolution of dispute, in our opinion)? I really hope this makes some sense because we are frustrated that they are bullying us into getting rid of one of our dogs (contradicting their own conduct rules).

  • Mahj Masthan


    We recently purchased a sectional title consisting of 2 owners, we being one of owners.
    The second owner runs an aircon business from his section and is continuously banging, drilling, painting, working with glue, etc. The fumes are affecting our health. Is there any way we can get advice with regards to running a business on a residential property. We dont have a body corporate as the owners of section 2 refuse to comply with our request for a body corporate.

    Any assistance would be greatly appreciated.

    • Kevin

      I want to know the rule regarding kids riding bicycle in the complex seeing they don’t have anywhere else to ride them except the dangerous roads

  • Dawn gounden

    Can residents use the common property in front of their garage to park, more so if they have one parking bay and garage in the complex. Please provide precedent to back this as its ongoing issue and residents refuse to adhere to such

  • Johann

    Hi Mr. Paddock, what local authority office can assist me if my water supply to my sectional title home is controlled by another unit, and when they have the need they simply close their water connection and as a result I sometimes end up not having water (once up to 5 days)? Aforementioned owners have financial difficulties with HUGE R/c arrears on their account. Johannesburg water will not allow me to have a second water line installed on the sectional title development.

  • estelle getz

    We are residents at Oasis Retirement Village in Century City which is a sectional title scheme consisting of 6 blocks of flats and common property.
    The Oasis body corporate has a maintenance contract with Swat Pest Control for pests in the common property but it does not include ants.
    Our apartment is infected with ants and we had Swat in for treatment at our own expense.
    Problem is that the ants are coming into our apartments from outside the buildings which have not been treated for ant infestation.
    Who is responsible for outside ant infestation in common property?
    Please advise.
    Many thanks,
    Mrs E Getz

  • Josie

    A tenant is parking an enormous 4×4 that is so big it does not fit into the bay properly. This bay is directly adjacent my garage and is making it very difficult to reverse out of my garage as there is not much space to begin with. Please advise what my rights are. I have spoken to the trustees previously but have had no joy.

  • Liezel

    My next door neighbour’s parking bay is directly in front of my door and is ust over 2 metres away. He has allocated his parking to the tenant that lives above me. This tenant owns 2 vehicles and both are problematic. Him and a few other guys continuously works on his vehicles in the parking bay in front of my doorway. I have spoken to this guy about the issue but he has told us that it is his parking and he can do what he wants in it even though it is in front of my door. I feel as if my privacy has been taken away from me. When my door is open, these people can see directly into my place. We live in a complex and I am renting. The neighbour, who the parking belongs to, is an owner. We have already confronted the owner to ask if it’s possible if we could swop parking bays seeing that his bay is directly in front of my door but he refused. Pls advise What are my rights regarding this issue?

  • Margaret

    Please can you kindly clarify who is responsible to eradicate a rodent problem in our sectional title complex. The rats have definitely increased over the few months, to a point that they can be visibly seen running along the boundary walls and in our gardens from other neighbours. . A rat ran into my unit last week Sunday, fortunately, I saw it, I’m now too scared to leave my back door open during the day.

  • Lyn

    Good morning, this may seem silly to some but it is an issue for me.
    African Grey Parrots: In a complex of 10 units my immediate neighbour had one parrot before lockdown and the noise level was not bad at all. Since then they added another African Grey making this two that they own. The noise is very loud, squawking, alarms and all sorts of other sounds. I have e-mailed the body corporate of which I am a trustee. I received a response back from the managing agent stating that they will wait for a response from the Chairman other than that no response at all. The Chairman called me yesterday on another matter and I asked him how come nobody has bothered to respond. His response was there doesn’t seem to be anything they can do unless it is after 10pm and I disagree with this as they are a nuisance. I did asked that they move the birds back to the room they were previously in where the noise level was tolerable. The people with the parrots must have been spoken to as I can see they are not opening the windows when they arrive home after work but during the weekends the windows are wide open throughout the day hence loud squawking. Can I take this matter further?

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