1. RESPECT YOUR NEIGHBOURS You, your family and your guests must respect your neighbours – you are living in a communal environment. Lots of people represent the security you want, but not all the privacy you have with a full title property.
Obey the body corporate's conduct rules (usually lodged with the deeds office) and remember a complex is as good as its rules.
Complaints to the trustees have to be in writing. If not in writing, it is just a moan and nobody has time for moans.
2. REALISE WHAT YOU DO NOT OWN Exclusive use areas, sole use areas, the outside "skin" of your unit (including the roof, outside walls and the foundations), the boundary walls, passages, elevator, gardens, car ports, and parking bays are all common property.
All owners "own" common property in undivided shares.
You require written permission from the trustees before making any changes to the common property. For example, you may not mark, paint, drive nails or screws or otherwise damage or alter any part of the common property.
You may install security gates and burglar bars provided the trustees have first approved in writing the nature and design of the device and the manner of the installation.
Geyser and toilet overflows not only waste water. The water also damages the common property (especially in blocks of flats). Overflows must be attended to as soon as possible, failing which the trustees will have the problem fixed and the damage to the common property will be for your account.
Signs and notices also require written permission from the trustees before they are placed on the common property, or in a unit if they can be seen from outside. Advise your security company they may not place their sign until you have the required written permission.
Inside your unit you are obliged by the Act and the conduct rules to: Repair and maintain it and not to use it or permit it to be used for such purpose as shall cause a nuisance to any other resident in the complex. (See noise.)
Not use the unit for any purpose that may be injurious to the reputation of the building.
You are not permitted to make alterations that may impair the stability of the building.
You are responsible for your hot water installation, even if the geyser is outside the unit.
3. NOISE Noise is a nuisance and you, your children and your visitors may not be the cause of any nuisance to the other residents in the complex.
Owners beware, you are responsible for the behaviour of your tenants. You may well be fined by the trustees for the noise your tenants make.
Noise is covered in the Environment Conservation Act of 1989 (should you wish to lay a charge privately). It defines two types of noise a) disturbing noise and b) noise nuisance.
Noise nuisance means "any sound which disturbs or impairs or may disturb or mpair the convenience or peace of any person."
This covers all noise such as barking dogs, machine noise, vehicles, garden implements, etc. There is a fine not exceeding R20000 and/or prison for not more than two years if they are found liable on conviction.
4. PETS The Sectional Titles Act Conduct Rules requires you to get written permission from the trustees before you bring a pet onto the complex.
Some complexes have banned cats or dogs or pets in general by amending their rules and having them lodged at the deeds office for their body corporate.
Once you have the written consent to have an animal, the animal may not be a nuisance to other residents. If it does the trustees can withdraw their consent and you will have to find alternative accommodation for the animal.
Dogs on the common property must be on a leash at all times and the owner of the dog is responsible for picking up the excrement. Bitches must be spayed.
5. TV AERIALS/ SATELLITE DISHES The Sectional Titles Act Conduct Rules require you to obtain written permission from the trustees before installing your aerial on common property.
The aerial must not be installed in front of the townhouse as this affects the appearance of the complex. Request the installer to run a cable around the side and install it in a less prominent spot.
When leaving the complex you may take the dish but the bracket must remain for the next resident. This way damage is minimal.
Any damage to the common property will be fixed by the trustees for the owner's account.
The appearance of your unit from the outside is very important. You are not permitted to keep anything outside your unit which is not in keeping with the appearance of the complex, for example rubbish kept on balconies or an old washing machine on your front lawn.
See next week's Weekend Property for Part 2 Les Reynard is a member of the National Association of Managing Agents and a committee member of the Sectional Title Association of PE. Email your sectional title questions to: Les@ReynardAgencies.com