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Pets in sectional title – why each case is unique

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With the increasing demand for sectional title units (according to a recent FNB Property Barometer report) comes the need, too, for pet-friendly sectional title schemes.http://hometimes.co.za/advertise-with-hometimes/

Often young professionals and couples without children treat them much like members of the family, which has in recent times even led to lengthy court cases (and even been taken to the Supreme Court of Appeals in one instance) when the owners have been told they cannot keep their pets with them.

Read the rules before you fall in lovefirst time buying resize

The first thing that prospective buyers of sectional title units should remember, however, is that they should familiarise themselves with the prescribed conduct rules in that scheme before they commit to purchasing or occupying a unit, says Shan Hulbert, sales manager for Knight Frank Residential SA. This is because the legal principle “caveat emptor – let the buyer beware” applies and a buyer is expected to have knowledge of the rules applicable to the scheme. In signing an offer to purchase he is accepting the rules and regulations of living there.

Some schemes have rules which prohibit the keeping of any pets. Others provide that the owner/occupier of a section may only keep certain pets (often even listing the type and size restrictions of pets that are allowed) with the written consent of the trustees. Trustees should be reasonable in the rationale behind specifying what sort of pet is allowed and what isn’t, however, as there are many cases where disallowing them could cause the owner much distress and financial loss if they should have to sell. If it should happen that an owner feels the trustees have unreasonably withheld consent, a court or arbitrator may be approached for a declaratory order.

All things considered

pets2 resizeWhile it can be argued from the body corporate’s perspective that sectional title schemes have limited space and, therefore, can only allow a certain size or number of pets to live in them, the age and time that the pet has been with its owner must be taken into account when a prospective buyer applies to have his pet live with him as well as whether there is a chance of “replacing” them with others should they die, says Hulbert.

The other question that needs to be asked is, “How will allowing this pet affect other owners in the scheme?” If it does not bark excessively, is not a threat to the safety of others or will not roam, then there is no legitimate reason to not allow the owner to keep it, she says.


Review overview
  • Arron Steyn 3rd February 2016

    Can an AGM in a Sectional Title Complex legally proceed without tabling audited financial statements for the previous year? If yes, what is the impact on the budget that has to be adopted for the year following?
    Thank you.

    • David A Steynberg 3rd February 2016

      Hi Arron,
      We’re following up on this for you.

    • David A Steynberg 3rd February 2016

      Hi Arron, Karien Coetzee, national property management consultant, at property management company Trafalgar refers:
      “The answer is no.
      The Act states the following in the prescribed Management Rule (PMR) 56 as being the prescribed agenda points for an Annual General Meeting –

      PMR 56 The following business shall be transacted at an annual general meeting:

      (a) The consideration of the financial statement and report referred to in rules 37 and 38;

      It also then states in PMR 37 the following:

      PMR 37. (1) The trustees shall cause to be prepared, and shall lay before every annual general meeting, for consideration in terms of rule 56 (a), a financial statement in conformity with generally accepted accounting practice, which statement shall fairly present the state of affairs of the body corporate and its finances and transactions as at the end of the financial year concerned.

      So it clearly is a prescription by the Act that the financial statements must be considered at the meeting. Failure to do so may invalidate the meeting.

      Another prescription is that the Financial statements must be attached to the notices of the meeting and sent to all owners at least 14 days before the meeting.

      PMR 39. (1) The trustees shall cause copies of the schedules, estimate, audited statement and report referred to in rules 29 (1) (c), 36, 37 and 38 to be delivered to each owner, and to any mortgagee which has advised the body corporate of its interest, at least fourteen days before the date of the annual general meeting at which they are to be considered.”

      • Arron 4th February 2016

        Hi Karin,
        Thank you for your detailed reply, much appreciated. When I received a “reminder” of the AGM, I in fact wrote to the Managing & the Chairperson of the Trustees, pointing out the same regulation. However, they chose to ignore it and did not even reply to my communication and went ahead with the AGM, which was held on the 29th Dec 2015. (The previous AGM was held in April 2015)
        I have since asked for a copy of the draft minutes as there has been no communication from the Trustees to inform owners of resolutions taken at the meeting, but again have had no response!
        Please advise what my next step should be to force compliance with the Act.

  • Arron 15th February 2016

    Hi David/Karien,

    Any advice on my previous post regarding methods/outlets to force compliance with the Act please?? I have since written to the Managing Agents requesting a copy of the draft AGM minutes, but they are totally ignoring my requests and are not responding at all.

    • David A Steynberg 18th February 2016

      Apologies for the slow response, Arron. We missed the original follow up.
      Karien Coetzee, National Property Management Consultant, at Trafalgar, answers:
      “Unfortunately there is no Sectional Title Police Force! Each complex must regulate themselves, but in saying that there are dispute resolution remedies like conciliation, arbitration, litigation – and soon the Community Schemes Ombud Service.

      The owner can also ask for the names and addresses of all owners and bondholders – in order to notify them of this non-compliance. By only requesting the information the flags sometimes go up with the Managing Agent and Trustees that there is trouble brewing for them!

      The owner – if generally dissatisfied with the Trustees – can also get the backing of at least 25% of the owners in order to request the Trustees to call a Special General Meeting for the removal and replacement of one or more Trustees.”