When will they ever learn ? – The late Bob Gauld

Extract from Bob gauld’s ”A year in ST””

The managing agent has demanded R3000 for a special levy” and “our managing agent has summonsed me for levy arrears”; or “the managing agent has decided not to fix the roof” and “our managing agent has allowed our block to deteriorate”. Four comments to the Helpline in the space of a single and typical day. Four alarming comments! How can it be that after so many years of Sectional Title in South Africa there is so little understanding of the basic principles of sectional ownership?

Not one of these functions rests with a managing agent. They are functions of the body corporate. Managing agents are not in a position to raise levies, hand-over levy defaulters, make decisions about repairs or be responsible for the state of the building. They act on the instructions of the trustees of the body corporate.

Their role is to assist the body corporate and trustees by providing specialised knowledge about Sectional Title and offering an administrative and accounting service. Very few bodies corporate can adequately manage their own schemes. Managing agents provide an essential service, but they are advisers, not decision-makers.

It is worth repeating. Within the structure of Sectional Title, the members of the Body Corporate are “The Boss”; the trustees are “The Representatives” and the managing agent “The Employee”. This hierarchy is entrenched in the Act and prescribed rules and is not open to negotiation.

One reason for the confusion about the managing agent’s role may be that most correspondence from the body corporate to its members appears on letterheads of the managing agent.

If there is a special levy, owners are notified on the managing agent’s stationery. The notice of intention to hand a defaulter over to an attorney is on the managing agent’s letterhead. In most cases, the letter is even signed by the managing agent, causing many owners to believe that the managing agent is acting independently and not on behalf of the trustees or body corporate. It is a fact that many owners associate a letter from the managing agent with bad news.

The Helpline received a call from an owner who said that as the money raised for a painting levy was deposited in the managing agent’s account, the agent was responsible for carrying-out the work and if he under-budgeted, then he should pay the shortfall! Does that owner understand anything about Sectional Title ownership?


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