A reader residing in a sectional title complex says the body corporate of the complex appears to have lost all interest in administering the complex for the benefit of the owners.
He says some of the issues that plague the complex include repairs not being done in a timely fashion, or at all, and financial information and documentation is not forthcoming upon request.
It also appears that the insurance on the complex may have lapsed or the terms may be out of date.
Read his question here
The reader says he is aware of the provisions of both the Sectional Titles Act and the Sectional Titles Schemes Management Act, but has also heard of an Ombud that the other owners may approach to help resolve the current issues.
The reader is correct in respect of there being an ombud for sectional title schemes, which is established under the Community Schemes Ombud Service Act.
One of the purposes of the ombud is to provide a dispute resolution mechanism in community schemes, which includes sectional title development schemes.
T act allows a person to bring an application for relief to the ombud if they are a “party to, or affected materially by, a dispute”.
It also sets out certain formalities that must be adhered to in lodging the application, as well as the specific types of relief a person can seek.
This means a person cannot simply approach the ombud in relation to every issue they encounter as part of a body corporate.
In relation to the challenges highlighted by the reader, the act does provide possible relief for many of the issues being experienced by the owners in the sectional title scheme where our reader resides.
When it comes to insurance, for example, the act specifically provides for an order to be made to make the association, in this case the body corporate, take out or increase insurance.
Seeking such an order is very important, because of the massive damages to the scheme that may occur, and which may be covered by an insurance policy.
With the reader’s scheme having fallen into a state of disrepair due to the constant inactivity by the body corporate, despite the various requests of the owners, the act again provides relief.
It provides for an order requiring the association to have repairs and maintenance carried out in respect of works pertaining to private and common areas. The order could include a request for such repairs and maintenance to be carried out within a specific time.
The reader has not advised whether or not the body corporate holds meetings of any kind at all, or whether the other owners have tried to call a meeting.
From the sounds of it, these issues have only been raised in an informal manner.
The act does allow for the ombud to order that the association call a general meeting of its members to deal with specified business.
If all attempts at calling a general meeting have failed, it may be in the owners’ best interest to bring an application for such an order to be made.
It is not clear whether or not a managing agent has been appointed in respect of certain of the duties to be carried out in the administration of the scheme, although this is common practice.
The managing agent may have taken its lead from the body corporate and has failed to execute its duties in accordance with the terms of its mandate.
If so, our reader can ask the ombud to give an order requiring the management agent to comply with the terms of a person’s contract of appointment and any applicable code of conduct or authorisation.
It is clear that the owners have substantial remedies available to them.
While it would be preferable that disputes be dealt with internally, the act provides an appropriate mechanism to resolve the issues that have been raised.
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