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Dear buyer, here’s why our levy is ‘so high’

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“Dear seller, I really love your apartment. It’s exactly what I want to buy. It’s just a pity the levy is so high.”

Dear buyer, I’m glad you love my apartment. I have enjoyed many happy years living and entertaining in it. I love every space inside and the complex itself is stunning: Beautiful, well-maintained gardens, an always-sparkling swimming pool, double-strand electric fencing and 24-hour roaming guards. I have never once felt unsafe – even during the times I arrived home in the early hours of the morning.

This is the reason why the levies are “so high”. They are used to pay for all day-to-day running costs, the maintenance of the grounds, the watering of and tending to the gardens, the security features and salaries of the staff who make the development home for all of us.

Remember that while the responsibility of my apartment is mine, the responsibility of the entire complex is that of the managing agent and the trustees – without them doing everything in my and every other owners’ interests, you would probably not even consider living here; let alone, buying here!

I have invested my own money into my apartment to make it truly mine; but while the levy is not something I look forward to paying, I am grateful that through the collective pooling of everyone’s levies, I get to come home to an apartment that has not been burgled, enjoy a private garden that gets its grass cut every week, and don’t have to worry about taking out my own buildings’ insurance.

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Did you even consider that at least one of the reasons why you are so in love with my apartment may be because of how well looked after the entire complex is?

There are many reasons, too, why levies are different from one development to another: They include the materials out of which the common property is constructed (facebrick walls are cheaper to maintain than plastered walls), the number of units in a complex (the higher the number of units, generally the lower the levy), as well as security features, amenities such as swimming pools and play parks, as well as the green space ratio to roads.

What you as a potential buyer do need to do is request a copy of the community scheme’s financials. This will quickly tell you what the trustees are spending the money on as well as how good or bad the payment performance is of homeowners. If you look at our financial statement, you will notice that the uncollected levy account is low; I’ve heard of complexes where 60 out of 80 units are behind in their levy payments, with some owners in arrears to the tune of R120,000! This means that that complex has not been well managed: Owners whose levy accounts are in arrears for more than R100,000 have not been paying for years! This puts the entire scheme under financial pressure and unless that money can be recovered, the body corporate will not be able to pay for essentials and may even struggle to pay for municipal services. Once that happens, homeowners will battle to sell and rent out their units, turning their smart investment into a bad one.

Our managing agent and trustees have always been very strict with homeowners who do not pay levies because they understand that if left unchecked, everyone’s investment (including the trustees’) is in jeopardy.


How to auction off a unit to recover arrear levies

I would encourage you to reconsider your opinion about the levies here, dear buyer. It’s a great community and is worth every cent you will pay per month to keep it so.




David A Steynberg, managing editor and director of HomeTimes, has more than 10 years of experience as both a journalist and editor, having headed up Business Day’s HomeFront supplement, SAPOA’s range of four printed titles, digimags Asset in Africa and the South African Planning Institute’s official title, Planning Africa, as well as B2B titles, Building Africa and Water, Sewage & Effluent magazines. He began his career at Farmer’s Weekly magazine before moving on to People Magazine where he was awarded two Excellence Awards for Best Real Life feature as well as Writer of the Year runner-up. He is also a past fellow of the International Women’s Media Foundation.

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  • Vinotha Govender 20th September 2018

    Please contact Miss Govender.Need to valuate my property which has a joint bond with FNB home loans. My contact number is 0829655255.Bond in arrears.My partner and I divorced.I am still the fifty percent bond holder.My name is getting bad need to value and market.