THE latest amendments to the Sectional Title Regulations deal with trustees who are in arrears with their levies.
Trustees act in a fiduciary capacity towards the body corporate, so should set an example to other members and at the very least should not be in arrears with their levies.
The amended management rules came into effect on April 14.
- Management rule 7 now states that a member of the body corporate may NOT be nominated at the AGM or appointed (co-opted) for trusteeship if he/she is in arrears with levies or any other amounts are owed to the body corporate.
Also, owners who have continued to be in breach of the body corporate conduct rules, after having received written warnings about the breaches from the managing agent or the trustees, may NOT be nominated to become trustees at the AGM.
- Management rule 13: Disqualification of trustees – Item 13(g) has been added and this states: "If a trustee is in arrears for more than two months with any levies and/or contributions payable by him/her in respect of his unit or exclusive use area (if any) and if he/she fails to bring such arrears up to date within seven days of being notified in writing to do so.
"Should the trustee not pay the outstanding amount/s then automatically the trustee is disqualified from being a trustee.
"To abide by this new ruling, trustees knowing that other trustees are in arrears with levies should instruct the managing agent (if they have one) to give written notice to the trustees regarding arrears levies (which are two months and more in arrears) and request them to pay the outstanding amounts within seven days of the receipt of the letter, failing which they will be disqualified from being a trustee."
These amendments are long overdue and will now stop trustees taking advantage of their positions.
UNDERGROUND WATER LEAKS
The NMMM will pay only 50% of the water loss suffered by underground water pipe leaks (they used to pay 100%). And it will only pay this rebate once every 12 months. Should you suffer another leak within the 12-month period, the body corporate has to pay the full amount.
Sewerage fees are based on the amount of water consumed, so having a water leak will increase your account for sewerage too.
Should your body corporate suffer this fate, it can have a devastating effect on finances.
The amount of water loss is dependent of the size of the underground leak – I have had bodies corporate that have had water and sewerage accounts from R39000 to as much as R189000 for one month's meter readings, ie between monthly accounts. Paying the NMMM 50% of these amounts is going to hurt many bodies corporate and, in all likelihood, this could lead to having to impose special levies to pay the accounts.
The scary thing is once you have the underground pipe fixed, this section becomes the strongest part of the pipe system – water now could burst the pipe further on down the line, at its next weakest spot.
One complex had three leaks (one claimed for and then another two) within a four-month period. Body corporate had a total bill for more than R135000 to pay.
NMMM requires claims to be made within 30 days. It is good practice not to claim until the last moment as, if you have another leak, you can claim this cost with the first one. When you claim, you are required to send in a statement from the plumber stating the leak has been fixed.
How to stop leaks? Bodies corporate have had success installing a valve (stop cock) at a cost of about R1500. If closed off when necessary, this cuts water use by about 40%.
It counters the effects of water surges which cause underground pipes to burst.
There is a company (Aquatrip) that installs a device that switches off the water when it senses a leak. This costs about R4000 installed. Both are worth considering once you have had an underground leak.
They are well worth the money once you have had the first leak and you fear another one before the 12 months are up.
Trustees can apply to the NMMM for the debt to be paid off with interest.
Trustees should monitor water meters and the best time to do this is late at night or at lunch time when there are no residents using water. If it is turning, chances are you have a leak. The quicker it is turning, the more serious the leak.