By Zerlinda van der Merwe
Samantha wishes to keep a Yorkshire terrier, as a pet in her sectional title unit. As Samantha is a rule-abiding member of the body corporate, she makes the necessary enquiries with the scheme’s managing agent, who sends her a copy of the body corporate’s conduct rules, and informs her that she must make a written application to the trustees before she brings her dog into the scheme.
Samantha notes that body corporate’s pet rule is the same as Prescribed Conduct Rule 1 of Annexure 2 of the Sectional Titles Schemes Management Act 8 of 2011 (“the STSMA”), which provides that (1) the owner or occupier of a section must not, without the trustees’ written consent, which must not be unreasonably withheld, keep an animal, reptile or bird in a section or on the common property; and (3) the trustees may provide for any reasonable condition in regard to the keeping of an animal, reptile or bird in a section or on the common property; and (4) the trustees may withdraw any consent if the owner or occupier of a section breaches any condition imposed.
Samantha addresses a letter to the trustees, advising them of her intention to keep a dog within her unit. In her letter, Samantha notes that the dog she would like to keep is a Yorkshire terrier, a small breed of dog, that according to Samantha’s research, will only grow to a maximum weight of 3.17 kilograms, and a height, measured from the floor to its shoulders, of 22.86 centimeters.
Samantha also notes that the reason she wants a Yorkshire terrier is that it is known as a “purse dog” and does not need a lot of physical activity for exercise. Samantha points out, in her letter to the trustees, that this characteristic makes the dog a perfect match for her as she lives in a one bedroom ground floor unit with a small enclosed garden, forming part of her section.
Wishing to provide the trustees with all the relevant facts in order for them to properly consider her application, Samantha informs them that although Yorkshire terrier’s are known to be yappy dogs, she will enroll her puppy for training, and will take it with her – in her handbag – should she go out for the day. Samantha further advised the trustees that as she runs her business from home, she will spend most of the day at home with her dog, so noise and nuisance should not be a problem.
The trustees discuss Samantha’s application at their next trustee meeting, where they note their concern for potential noise nuisance, as Samantha has pointed out that the breed of dog applied for is known to be yappy and attention seeking, which the managing agent has confirmed, following a Wikipedia search on Yorkshire terriers.
However, referring to their pet register, the trustees find that they have approved applications to keep similar breeds of dogs in the past, and that there are currently two such small dogs being kept in the scheme.
Three of the five trustees decide, based on the size, nature and temperament of the dog, to approve Samantha’s application, subject to her acceptance of a few conditions*:
- The breed of dog approved is a Yorkshire terrier only;
- The maximum weight and height restrictions set out in the owner’s application must be adhered to;
- The dog must be enrolled in pet obedience training from the time it is brought into the scheme, and upon completion of the training, proof of completion must be provided to the managing agent;
- The dog may not roam on common property, with or without the supervision of the owner, and must be kept within the owner’s unit, including the enclosed garden, which the owner must ensure is kept closed;
- The dog must, at all times, wear a collar with the owner’s information clearly displayed.
After resolving to approve Samantha’s application, the trustees turn their attention to the fact that Samantha has admitted to running a business from her unit, which contravenes the body corporate rules. This issue will be dealt with in a forthcoming article.
*For the purpose of this article, we only looked at five conditions. However, this is not an exhaustive list.
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