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Understanding how sectional title rules work

MAIN IMAGE: Berry Everitt, CEO of Chas Everitt International property group.

If the owners in a specific sectional title scheme want to make new “house rules” for their scheme, it’s very important that they follow the proper procedure, says Berry Everitt, CEO of the Chas Everitt International property group.

“There are two standard sets of rules that apply to all Sectional Title (ST) schemes – the Prescribed Management Rules and the Prescribed Conduct Rules that are contained in annexures to the Sectional Title Schemes Management Act (STSMA),” he notes.

“The former regulates the management of the scheme and its finances by the body corporate, its elected trustees and any managing agent they appoint, while the latter regulates the behaviour of owners and tenants and are intended to promote harmonious living.”

The Prescribed Conduct Rules cover such matters as:
* The keeping of pets
* The disposal of refuse
* Parking on the common property
* Changes or damage to the common property
* Changes to the appearance of individual sections
* The storage of flammable materials
* Any behaviour by occupants and visitors that might interfere with an owner or tenant’s peaceful enjoyment of their section or the common property.

However, Everitt says, every ST scheme is different, and for that reason, the STSMA does also make provision for owners (the body corporate) to make changes to these standard rules – or to add new ones specific to a particular scheme.

“Owners may wish to create a specific rule dealing with the hours of use of a swimming pool, tennis court or braai facilities, for example, or one limiting the number of people that can attend a party or other social gathering at a single unit.

“In a scheme where most of the owners are senior citizens, they may want to create a rule governing the behaviour of children at certain times or in certain areas such as stairwells or passageways. Meanwhile, owners in schemes located in holiday areas may well want to create a rule prohibiting short-term or Airbnb letting that they feel could compromise their security systems.”

Writing in the Property Signposts newsletter, he says that such amendments to the standard rules can be very useful, because they seek to anticipate and eliminate possible sources of disagreement and dispute among occupants of the scheme and thus promote harmonious living.

“However, owners need to be careful that any proposed amendment does not conflict with the prescribed management rules, is reasonable and applies to all owners. They must also ensure that it is formally passed by a special resolution of the body corporate and then approved by and filed with the Community Housing Schemes Ombud. If they don’t do this, it will not be enforceable.”

A special resolution means either a resolution passed by at least 75% (in value and number) of the votes of the members of a body corporate who are represented at a general meeting, or agreed to in writing by members of a body corporate holding at least 75% (in value and number) of all the votes. In addition, when a special resolution is to be taken at a meeting, the body corporate must give all members 30 days’ written notice specifying the proposed resolution.

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