Buying ST property: Know the rules – Property 24

Sectional title units have become increasingly popular as more and more people prefer the security that living in a gated, controlled development offers. 

The body corporate rules will determine the level of change, the changes to the rules themselves and the number of votes required to affect changes in the scheme. The original rules would have been established by the developer at the outset and these are registered in the Deeds Office.

This is according to Lanice Steward, MD of Anne Porter Knight Frank, who says the majority of those buying into sectional title schemes are blissfully unaware of the fact that they are bound by the body corporate rules. 

“If buying into a sectional title scheme, you should ask for a copy of the body corporate rules before signing the sales agreement,” says Steward. 

The body corporate rules will determine the level of change, the changes to the rules themselves and the number of votes required to affect changes in the scheme. The original rules would have been established by the developer at the outset and these are registered in the Deeds Office.  

Very often, sectional title units are investment units and, particularly when a private lease is signed without the advice of a professional letting agent, the body corporate rules do not form part of the lease agreement. As a result the tenant “in all innocence” does not comply with the rules and disputes and problems often arise.  

An example of this would be whether pets are allowed – very often they aren’t in sectional title units or are limited to a cat or bird – but if a tenant signs a lease and does not ask, they might not be told that this is not allowed, and then have to find somewhere else to live, or give up their pet.  

There is one regulation that is often overlooked and that is if there are owners who have not paid their levies, the body corporate can refer the claim to a court for determination if, after following all the due processes such as a letter of demand or a phone call to the defaulting owner, the owner still disputes his account or does not pay.   

All those living in sectional title schemes should know the body corporate rules, says Steward. “If you own in such a scheme and don’t like the rules, it is possible to get them changed but in order to do this you must get involved, become a trustee, go to meetings and initiate some sort of change process yourself.” 

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