FAQ’S

COMPLIANCE WITH THE CONDUCT RULES

NEIGHBOURLY RELATIONS: SMOKING

A NEIGHBOUR SMOKES CIGARETTES CONTINUALLY ON HIS PATIO AND THE SMOKE DRIFTS INTO MY UNIT, CAUSING ME DISTRESS. CAN THE ESTATE MANAGER ASSIST ME?

 

  • The estate manager who acts for and on behalf of the body corporate is unable to assist. It is advisable for the complainant to speak with the person in question directly as the matter is not a body corporate issue.
  • The Tobacco Products Control Act doesn’t apply to Sectional Title schemes or to private property.
  • According to the Sectional Titles Act Section 44 (1)(d)(e) residents have rights and duties within a scheme but residents are also expected to have a reasonable ability to withstand adverse conditions.
  • If a resident can prove that the ‘nuisance’ significantly affects them (note that allergies to smoke can’t be used as an argument), even though they have a reasonable ability to withstand adverse conditions, they can pursue this actionable nuisance via arbitration as per Prescribed Management Rule (PMR) 72.
  • There is no statutory definition of nuisance or unreasonable interference as it is so broad and therefore Common Law applies.
  •  Smoking in Sectional Title Schemes only becomes a body corporate issue / duty if it relates to the scheme’s conduct rules and its management of common property. As far as the Sectional Title experts are concerned this will always be an issue between owners / residents because a scheme would not insert an anti-smoking or smoking-nuisance clause in its rules as it infringes on the rights of residents as per Section 44 of the Act, and the smoking of cigarettes in South Africa is a permitted activity.
COMPLIANCE WITH LEGISLATION

ELECTRICAL CERTIFICATE OF COMPLIANCE WHEN SELLING

CAN I SELL MY HOME WITHOUT AN ELECTRICAL CERTIFICATE OF COMPLIANCE OR IF IT IS OLDER THAN TWO YEARS?

 

In terms of Regulation 7, “the user or lessor may not allow change in ownership if the Certificate of Compliance is older than 2 years.” And then in terms of Regulation 10, it is a criminal offence not to comply with this regulation. Read more.

FOREIGN NATIONAL AS A STAFF MEMBER

CAN I EMPLOY A FOREIGN NATIONAL AS A DOMESTIC WORKER OR GARDENER?

 

Residents may employ a foreign national as a domestic worker or gardener, that is a personal decision, but they must be aware that to do so, if the person in question doesn’t have legal status to work / live in the country, means breaking the law. The Body Corporate or Home Owner Association cannot prevent a resident from doing so, and cannot refuse access to the employee on those grounds. The access control identification tag issued by residential estates is issued to control access into the estate only, and in no manner or form condones, acknowledges or disputes the status of the employee. The Body Corporate or Home Owners Association cannot be held liable when a resident employs a foreign national who is not authorised to work / live in South Africa. Read more.

ELECTRICAL COMPLIANCE CERTIFICATE FOR ELECTRIFIED FENCING

WHAT IS AN ELECTRICAL COMPLIANCE CERTIFICATE FOR ELECTRIFIED FENCING AND HOW DOES THIS AFFECT ME AS A HOMEOWNER IN A SCHEME?

Regulation 12 of the Electrical Machinery Regulations, 2011 imposes an obligation on the user of an electric fence system to have an electric fence system certificate of compliance. The requirement does not apply to a system in existence prior to 1 October 2012. However, as with an electrical compliance certificate, this certificate will be required where an addition or alteration is effected to the system or where there is a change of ownership of the premises on which the system exists if the change of ownership takes place after 1 October 2012. Read more.

FINANCIAL TOPICS

OUTSTANDING LEVY STATEMENTS

I HAVE NOT RECEIVED A LEVY STATEMENT FOR THE PAST TWO MONTHS, WOULD YOU URGENTLY SEND ME A COPY?

Ecliptic Estate Management deals with the operational issues within the estate. Please contact the managing agents / administrators who are responsible for the financial portfolio. it is also important to note that the financial administrators (managing agents) do not attend to operational matters. All matters relating to the operations of the estate, be that related to security, gardens, maintenance, municipal outages, implementation of the Conduct Rules and the like, must be addressed to Ecliptic Estate Management. If queries are sent to the administrators, these are referred to us in return, which delays the resolution.

ESTATE FINANCIAL DOCUMENTS

I AM AN OWNER IN A SECTIONAL TITLE ESTATE. MAY I REQUEST THE FINANCIAL DOCUMENTS OF THE ESTATE?

 

  • Owners may request the monthly balance sheet from the managing agent at any time, however the debtors age analysis will not be provided to anyone other than a trustee of the board.
  • Owners may also request the minutes of the board meetings.
  • It is important to note that it is far more productive to attend a meeting to avoid matters being misconstrued or taken out of context. Reading minutes or financial documents without being privy to the surrounding circumstances can cause confusion and neither the board or its service providers will entertain lengthy discussions on these matters with owners. If owners have an interest in the machinations of the estate, they should attend a board meeting.

RATES CLEARANCE CERTIFICATE PAYMENT

WHOSE RESPONSIBILITY IS IT TO PAY THE AMOUNT TO COUNCIL FOR THE RATES CLEARANCE CERTIFICATE?

 

It is the seller’s responsibility to pay the full amount required by the council for the Rates Clearance Figures to the transferring attorney. Read more.

MORE ABOUT LEVIES

WHAT ARE LEVIES, WHO IS LIABLE FOR LEVIES AND WHAT HAPPENS IF I DON’T PAY MY LEVY CONTRIBUTION?

 

  • Levies are the contributions, usually paid in monthly instalments, which each owner makes to the scheme’s running costs. The levy payable by an owner is calculated on the basis of the participation quota of the section(s) s/he owns. An owner who is entitled to exclusive use rights must pay the costs attributable to the upkeep of that area.
  • The person who is the registered owner of the unit is responsible to pay that levy. Bear this in mind when entering into a contract to buy or sell a unit.
  • The Body Corporate or Home Owners Association can take legal action to recover unpaid levies, with all recovery costs debited to the defaulter. All owners in a scheme have to pay a levy and any owner who fails to pay their levy, while continuing to enjoy the benefits of living in the scheme, is doing so at the expense of all the other owners. An owner who is in arrears with his or her levy may not vote at general meetings of the Body Corporate, except for proposed special or unanimous resolutions. The Body Corporate is entitled to charge interest on arrears.
HOUSEKEEPING TOPICS

WHY DO I HAVE TO REGISTER MY DOMESTIC WORKER

MY DOMESTIC WORKER ONLY COMES IN ONCE A WEEK. WHY DO I HAVE TO REGISTER HER? WHY CAN SECURITY NOT CONTACT ME FROM THE INTERCOM WHEN SHE ARRIVES, AS THEY DO FOR VISITORS?

 

Domestic workers are not categorised as visitors. Once inside the estate for the day, they have unlimited access to the Common Property, and in most instances, the resident at work and cannot monitor the movements of the staff member. Domestic staff are required to be registered and are issued with an estate identity tag for the days when they work within the estate. This is also for ease of use for the resident, as the security officers don’t have to bother the resident for access whilst at work.

NOISY NEIGHBOURS

MY NEIGHBOUR IS NOISY WHAT CAN I DO?

 

A late night party or a blaring stereo are obvious examples, but what of the noise generated by the likes of someone having a conversation late at night? Noise can be a tricky issue because what is “excessive” or “unreasonable” noise? These descriptions are subjective, and one must bear in mind that close-quarter living requires a certain degree of tolerance regarding noise. The sound of voices, the moving of a furniture item or someone walking in high heeled shoes, are all things one would expect to hear from time to time. The Conduct Rules of the estate must be taken into account, :

If someone is hammering a picture into a wall at midnight or regularly talking in a loud voice late at night or early in the morning, perhaps a case can be made. Outside of this however, one must consider what is fair and reasonable, and must be aware that the Sectional Titles Act requires that those who live in a Sectional Title estate have some ability to withstand a certain level of noise and are robust in constitution; we must always be careful not to turn any estate into a place where the residents are unable to enjoy living there as they are afraid to pull a chair out or walk around their unit without having the rule book thrown at them.

POSTAL DELIVERY

POSTAL DELIVERY – HOW DO I RECEIVE POST AT MY RESIDENCE?

 

In most estates there are no post boxes installed for individual use. It is preferable in South Africa to have a dedicated postal box at either the Post Office or another service provider such as PostNet. Should residents choose to receive post at the estate, it will be stored in the guardhouse for collection. Any post not collected may be placed under the doors of the units by the security officers (if there is a roaming guard), if the gap under the door allows for this and if the unit number is visible on the post itself. Post not collected within a month from the guardhouse, if we are unable to slide it under the unit door or if the unit number is not listed, will be discarded.

PROBLEMATIC PETS

THERE IS THE MOST ANNOYING LITTLE SNAPPER DOG IN ONE OF THE NEIGHBOURING UNITS THAT BARKS INCESSANTLY. IS THERE ANYTHING WE CAN DO ABOUT IT?

 

  • The estate manager attends to all complaints and transgressions but is only able to assist if the correct details are provided; transgression notifications cannot be issued in the abstract.
  • The complainant, whose details are kept confidential, must submit comprehensive details which include: unit number, date / s of transgressions and the time / s that the transgressions occurred.
  • The investigation and subsequent action will be conducted within the parameters of the Sectional Titles Act or Articles of Association / Memorandum of Incorporation of the estate together with the conduct rules of the estate.

MAINTENANCE TOPICS

GEYSER ISSUES

GEYSER ISSUES – WHAT DO I DO?

 

This issue is dealt with Section 68(1)(vii) of the Prescribed Management Rules which states an owner: “shall maintain the hot water installation which serves his section, or, where such installation serves more than one section, the owners concerned shall maintain such installations pro-rata, notwithstanding that such appliance is situated in part of the common property and is insured in terms of the policy taken out by the body corporate.”

In other words, an owner is responsible for maintaining the hot water geyser and the pipes supplying water to the geyser, and the pipes running from the geyser to the unit. This is irrespective of whether the geyser is situated in the ceiling or anywhere else on the common property. The Body Corporate insurance will most likely cover the maintenance / replacement of a geyser, however the owner will still be responsible for paying any excess. Make sure to check if a geyser is still under warranty before proceeding with any work.

INTERNAL DAMP

I HAVE INTERNAL DAMP ON MY WALLS – CAN YOU PLEASE HAVE THIS FIXED?

 

Internal damp is routinely not an unforeseen event as it develops over time, and the rectification of internal damp is the responsibility of the owner of the section. For an insurance claim there has to be a fortuitous event, which damp is not. There are many factors that can contribute to damp, such as humidity, which is caused by various factors such as climate or even a clothes dryer. If it can be shown that water ingress from the common property is the cause of the damp, then the Body Corporate is obliged to address the cause, but it is not obliged to address the issue within the section. Each issue must be assessed on merit however, and sometimes the opinion of an expert is sought to determine liability.

DEVELOPER RESPONSIBILITIES

MY UNIT WAS HANDED OVER BY THE DEVELOPER FOR OCCUPATION APPROXIMATELY A YEAR AGO; WHAT MAINTENANCE / DEFECTS IS THE DEVELOPER STILL RESPONSIBLE FOR?

 

As per the Act published in Government Gazette number 19418, the following applies:

Chapter III – Protection of Housing Consumers

(b) the home builder shall:

  • (i) subject to the limitations and exclusions that may be prescribed by the Minister, at the cost of the home builder and upon demand by the housing consumer, rectify major structural defects in the home caused by non-compliance with the NHBRC Technical Requirements and occurring within a period which shall be set out in the agreement and which shall not be less than five years as from occupation date, and notified to the home builder by the housing consumer within that period;
  • (ii) rectify non-compliance with or deviation from the terms, plans and specifications of the agreement or any deficiency related to design, workmanship or material notified to the home builder by the housing consumer within a period which shall be set out in the agreement and which shall not be less than three months as from occupation date; and
  • (iii) repair roof leaks attributable to workmanship, design or materials occurring and notified to the home builder by the housing consumer within a period which shall be set out in the agreement and which shall not be less than 12 months as from occupation date.
SERVICE PROVIDER TOPICS

COMPLAINING ON SOCIAL MEDIA

I AM UNHAPPY WITH A SERVICE PROVIDER AT OUR ESTATE. CAN I BROADCAST THIS USING A SOCIAL MEDIA PLATFORM?

 

The answer is unequivocally no! Not only is that unprofessional as the service provider should be placed in breach by the Body Corporate / Home Owners Association as per their Service Level Agreement, but it could land you in hot water. Read more.