CSOS case files: ‘Cool it’, arbitrator tells trustees
An arbitrator, in an application brought to the Community Schemes Ombud Service (CSOS) by the owner of a unit in a KwaZulu-Natal sectional title complex against the trustees of the complex, has found that the trustees’ decision to refuse her permission to install her air conditioner on her patio was “unreasonable and unfair”.
Mrs Carin Venter brought the dispute against the trustees of the Cerf complex in terms of the Community Schemes Ombuds Service Act and appeared on her own behalf on 28 September last year. Managing agent, Hennie van der Walt, represented the Cerf body corporate.
She stated in her application that when she asked to install the air conditioning unit on her patio the trustees approved in principle but stated that the unit had to be installed at the back of the building. Mrs Venter said that placing the unit at the back of the building was impractical because the air conditioner would be 3m away from her unit; it would have to be mounted on the wall of an adjoining unit, several geysers would have to be moved to accommodate the air conditioner as would an electrical (DB) board. Moving the DB would be at her expense.
She said the air conditioner on her patio would be barely visible. In addition, the trustees had allowed another owner to install an air conditioner on the side of that owner’s unit.
In their response the trustees provided no reason for giving another owner permission to install an air conditioner on a side wall. They confirmed that there was no rule stipulating that air conditioners had to be installed at the rear of the complex.
In evaluating the evidence, Advocate Barbara Shingler, in her capacity as the arbitrator, said “the trustees have not applied their minds fully to the applicant’s request” and the positioning of air conditioners was not in the body corporate’s rules but only a requirement that the trustees “would like to see implemented”.
Adv Shingler said the positioning of the air conditioner at the back of the building “would be expensive, is not practical in that geysers may have to be moved” and “the air conditioner would have to be fixed onto a neighbour’s wall which would not be at all suitable and would probably cause a disturbance/nuisance to the neighbour”.
“The trustees have contravened their own ‘rule’ about the positioning of air conditioners” and “the positioning of the air conditioner on the patio of the applicant’s unit would have no negative aesthetic appearance, would not inconvenience any other occupant and is the obvious solution to all the problems raised”.
The installation, repair and maintenance of the air conditioner on the patio would be to the applicant’s cost, she ruled.
To read the full report of the application and the arbitrator’s adjudication order, see case CSOS 00420/KZN/17 on the CSOS website
Words: Blake Wilkins