Being a sectional title owner means continuously working to increase your knowledge on all things real estate and insurance. Often, that means adding new real estate terms to your vocabulary, like learning about the Sectional Title Act and its list of conduct rules, for example.
Hearing the word ‘rules’ will likely make you want to run away. Who wants to follow the rules, right?
But, in this case, the sectional title rules in South Africa work in everyone’s favour – you are going to love what these rules do for you and your complex!
Before diving into the rules, let’s first understand what the Sectional Title Act South Africa is, and why they came about.
What is the Sectional Title Act?
In South Africa, many people live in complexes, estates and apartment blocks that are governed by the Sectional Titles Schemes Management Act 8 of 2011. These laws provide fundamental rights, protections and responsibilities for people involved in a sectional title scheme.
Simply put, conduct rules are the regulations that apply to the day-to-day living within an estate or apartment building. Given the fact that people are living in close proximity to one another, these rules help establish specific behavioural guidelines for everyone to abide by. You can find an outline for your conduct rules under the Sectional Titles Schemes Management Act (STSMA).
The STSMA also stipulates that the rules can be amended. This is particularly relevant as certain rules may no longer be relevant from the time that they were first created. If the rules are to be changed, a general meeting needs to be called, with a 30 day written notice period. At the meeting, various members are allowed to motion for certain rules to be added or removed.
Why are sectional title rules in South Africa important?
With a diverse number of people all living on the same property, it is important that your building upholds a certain standard. The aim of conduct rules is, therefore, to try and encourage harmonious living within your sectional title scheme.
It is for this reason that the rules apply to both sectional title owners and the building’s occupiers. Ultimately, ensuring that people abide by these rules will genuinely be in everyone’s best interest!
Now let’s get into what some of those sectional title rules may look like.
Sectional Title Act: conduct rules
Remember, the trustees have a duty (as representatives of the body corporate) to enforce the conduct rules. So, if you’re a trustee in your sectional title complex – it’s a good idea to get familiar with the below!
Animals, reptiles and birds
There are admittedly a few property owners that do not allow you to bring your fur baby, reptile or bird along. However, there are a few that do, so this specific rule applies to them.
Should you or your tenants wish to move pets in, occupants have to get written approval from the trustees. Residents that have a disability and require the help of a guide dog, however, do not have to get explicit permission to house their pet.
Refuse and water disposal
It may just seem like rubbish, but refuse is a big point of disagreement in sectional living, so you may want to listen up about what you can and can’t do with your trash. According to the Sectional Title Act, both the owner and occupants may not leave any refuse or other materials in common areas. This is to ensure that waste does not interfere with the enjoyment of the common property.
The notorious parking debate continues to be a hot topic, especially in sectional title schemes where people often complain that there are never enough parking bays for everyone. The stipulations outlined in the conduct rules will surely put that debate to end.
According to the rules, all vehicles are to be parked in their designated parking bay. No cars are allowed to park in other owners/tenants’ bays or on common property. Visitors are to also park in designated visitors’ bays.
Damage, alterations and additions to common property
If you are keen on unleashing your more creative and artistic side, stick to paper or an easel because defacing common property is strictly forbidden. This includes painting, marking or driving nails into the walls.
You are, however, given permission to add in protective items, like burglar bars. Just make sure that you still seek approval from the body corporate first!
Appearance from the outside
Do you remember the popular saying “don’t judge a book by its cover”? Well, that saying does not apply to properties. Many potential buyers view the building from the outside first, so a good impression must be created. This means that nothing can be stored on your patio, veranda or balcony.
Storage of flammable materials
Safety continues to be the body corporate’s main priority, which is why they have to actively regulate the number of flammable items that are brought onto the property. Gas cylinders for domestic heating and fuel for your car or generator are the only approved flammable materials allowed on the property. Any additional items will have to be approved by the trustees.
Behaviour of occupiers and visitors
We all love a good socially distant braai or summer housewarming. However, some rules govern just how much noise you and your guests can make. According to the conduct rules, residents are expected to keep noise levels to a minimum.
You are also responsible for keeping the common property in good condition for other residents to enjoy too! Remember that while your guests are just visitors, any damage or noise complaints that they receive will ultimately be your responsibility.
Eradication of pests
As a tenant, you can breathe a sigh of relief knowing that you can legally request that the owner takes care of pest infestations inside of your unit. They are also responsible for regularly inspecting the unit to address the damage caused by pests. If an owner does not attend to pest-related issues, they will be forced to do so by the board of trustees.
Everything’s better when we all follow the rules
In all honesty, actively managing a sectional title scheme can be rather challenging. There are several expectations, responsibilities and roles that you have to take on. But it’s in those panicked moments that you can lean on the Sectional Title Act. These rules are there to serve you, protect you and ultimately guide you throughout the entire sectional title scheme journey.
If you’re ever unsure of anything, it’s best to speak to your managing agent to clear things up.