A reader has complained to the YourProperty experts about another owner in his sectional title scheme who stubbornly refuses to maintain his section.
The reader and his fellow owners in the upmarket complex are understandably upset as this one section is lowering the tone of the entire scheme.
The offending owner, who is in residence, will not paint his section or maintain a neat and tidy garden. Over the years, he has also failed to comply with requests and notices from the body corporate to maintain his section properly.
According to the reader, the scheme itself is becoming increasingly devalued, property prices are being negatively affected and other owners are embarrassed by the state of his section.
He would like to know what remedy might apply to assist the body corporate.
See the reader’s question here.
It is strange that a person who buys into an upmarket scheme could have such a disregard for the other owners in the scheme.
Despite owning his section, he and the section are subject to certain rules designed to regulate and maintain the harmonious relationship between the various owners of sections within a scheme.
The Sectional Titles Act provides that an owner must repair and maintain his section “in a state of good repair” and also keep any exclusive use areas neat and clean.
According to the provisions, he may not use his section or exclusive use area, or permit it to be used, in a way that causes a nuisance to any occupier of another section.
Furthermore, he may not use or enjoy the common property in a way that unreasonably interferes with its use or enjoyment by other owners.
The management rules under the Act also provide possible guidance in this regard.
These rules state that he may not use his section, exclusive use area or any part of the common property in such a manner that it injures the reputation of the building, or do anything that prejudices the harmonious appearance of the units.
It also states that he “shall not contravene, or permit the contravention, of any law, by-law, ordinance, proclamation or statutory regulation, or the conditions of any licence, relating to or affecting the occupation of the building or the common property, or the carrying on of business in the building, or so contravene or permit the contravention of the conditions of title applicable to his section or any other section or to his exclusive use area or any other exclusive use area.”
Certain local authorities enforce by-laws relating to nuisance, which may include aspects relating to the shabby and unsatisfactory appearance of houses.
It’s clear that the Act and management rules impose certain obligations on the offending owner; the principle being that his right stops where the right of another begins, thus use of his section should not prejudice the rights of the other owners.
If the offending owner fails to repair or maintain his section or exclusive use area adequately, the rules offer a way forward.
The Act states “if any such failure persists for a period of thirty days after the giving of written notice . . . by the trustees or the managing agent on their behalf, the body corporate shall be entitled to remedy the owner’s failure and to recover the reasonable cost of doing so from such owner.”
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