CSOS case files: Trustees must refund owner’s R24,000 fine
The former owner of a Gauteng sectional title property who paid the Northdowns body corporate R24,000 under protest for replacement access locks to the complex’s nine common areas, will be refunded in full in terms of an adjudication order handed down in terms of the Community Ombud Services Act No.9 of 2011.
The body corporate was not present when the case was heard on 11 June 2018 in Johannesburg and the adjudication hearing proceeded in the presence of the applicant, Alick Drishner.
Drishner stated that on about 16 October 2017 he left the keys to his unit as well as all the access keys to the Northdowns common areas, remotes and cheque book in his car. When he arrived at his flat he realised that the keys were missing, including his flat keys, the multi lock keys which give access to all Northdowns’ common areas, and his cheque book. He asked a member of the body corporate and his son to assist him to look for the keys in his car but the keys could not be found. He reported the matter to the police who advised him that his car could have been jammed. He also told the complex’s managing agents.
Drishner says the trustees decided to replace all the locks on the nine access gates because the lives and safety of everyone living in Northdowns was in jeopardy because of the security risk. Drishner initially refused to pay R21,900 for the replacement locks which, with interest, accrued to R24,000. He finally paid the amount under protest because he sold his unit in Northdowns but the body corporate instructed the managing agents not issue him with a clearance certificate until payment had been received.
Dombolo Makgomo Masilela, the adjudicator, stated that he had listened to the respondent’s submissions and having also read all written submissions and communications between the respondent, the applicant and the managing agent. He quoted the STSMA Regulations, Part 5, Rule 25 (5) which provides that – ‘A body corporate must not debit a member’s account with any amount that is not a contribution or a charge levied in terms of the Act or these rules without the member’s consent or the authority of a judgement or order by a judge, adjudicator or arbitrator’.
“Accordingly, the STSMA and its regulations makes it clear that the body corporate does not have the powers to debit a member’s account with any amount that is not a contribution or a charge levied in terms of the Act or the rules without the member’s consent,” Masilela said, and ordered that the Northdowns Body Corporate must refund to Drishner R21,900 charged for the replacement of locks and R2,100 charged for interest (total amount R24,000) by no later than 31 July 2018.
To read the full report of the application and the arbitrator’s adjudication order, see case CSOS 1643/GP/17 on the CSOS website
Words: Blake Wilkins