Estate Living and Conduct Rules
South Africa has many different community schemes and arrangements – often with conflicting rules and responsibilities. The introduction of the Community Schemes Ombud Service Act (CSOSA) in October 2016 means that many of these schemes now qualify as ‘community schemes and CSOS has been established as the regulatory body to deal with complaints and disputes in community schemes and to oversee compliance and corporate governance in such schemes.
The term ‘community scheme’ refers sectional title, share block and retirement Estates, homeowners’ associations and body corporates. In an Estate community, there are many personalities and histories and residents live close to each other and share communal areas including parking areas.
CSOS can deal with disputes regarding the administration of a an Estate if the dispute is between parties who each have a material interest in the scheme, such as executive committee members, owners, occupiers, managing agents and bondholders, and one of the parties to the dispute should either be the association or an owner or occupier. A resident, creating a nuisance, or not adhering to the Conduct Rules would be guilty of misconduct in terms of Estate rules and the aggrieved parties can approach CSOS for relief.
A nuisance is any repeated action that materially interferes with another owner or occupier’s use and enjoyment of their private or common areas. Ie: excessive noise from a party held in a section. Section 39(2)(a) of the CSOSA, allows for an application may be made for an order that certain behaviour or default constitutes a nuisance and will require the relevant resident to refrain from acting in that specified way. Determining what a nuisance is though is very subjective, especially in a sectional scheme where residents live close together.
Some types of behaviour might just have to be tolerated to allow for a harmonious living environment and the controlling capacity for the Body Corporate and trustees
Heritage Estate is a pet friendly Estate – small dogs, cats and birds. A pet behaving repeatedly in an unreasonable manner is likely to lead to a dispute. Section 39(2)(b) of the CSOSA, states that is CSOS must be satisfied that the pet – being kept in a private section or common area, is causing a nuisance or a hazard that is unduly interfering with someone else’s peaceful use and enjoyment of their section or common area. An application may then be made for an order requiring the pet owner to take specified action to remedy the nuisance, hazard or interference or to remove the animal.
The Management and Conduct rules of most community schemes will determine that an owner will have to obtain the consent of the Heritage Estate Body Corporate to attach anything to the exterior of the buildings in the Estate. This is to comply with the overall architectural design of the Estate and that all is in accordance with the concept.
Section 39(2)(d) of the CSOSA, states that an application may be made for a removal order of all or any articles placed by a resident on or attached to parts of a common area or a section.