‘No pets’ rules are not set in stone

Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition) - - PROPERTY - JEN­NIFER PAD­DOCK

SEC­TIONAL ti­tle schemes, par­tic­u­larly densely pop­u­lated ones of­ten with lit­tle or no com­mon prop­erty gar­dens, may not be the ideal places for pets. Yet many peo­ple liv­ing in sec­tional ti­tle schemes, or think­ing about mov­ing into one, would not dream of get­ting rid of their pets.

Pre­scribed con­duct rule 1 (PCR 1) pro­vides that own­ers or oc­cu­piers of sec­tions shall not keep any an­i­mal, rep­tile or bird in a sec­tion or on the com­mon prop­erty without the writ­ten con­sent of the trustees, which may not be un­rea­son­ably with­held. Own­ers who think the trustees have un­rea­son­ably with­held their con­sent may ap­ply to court for declara­tory or­ders.

If the trustees al­low a par­tic­u­lar owner or oc­cu­pier to keep a pet, they are en­ti­tled to im­pose rea­son­able con­di­tions, re­quir­ing the owner to, for ex­am­ple, keep the pet on a lead on the com­mu­nal prop­erty.

Some schemes have amended the pre­scribed rules and now have a rule that no pets are al­lowed in the scheme. This ab­so­lute pro­hi­bi­tion on the keep­ing of pets could be ar­gued to be an un­jus­ti­fi­able in­fringe­ment of a per­son’s right of own­er­ship. Then again, if the rule was in place and filed at the Deeds Reg­istry be­fore the owner bought into the scheme, the le­gal prin­ci­ple caveat emp­tor (let the buyer be­ware) comes into play be­cause the buyer is pre­sumed to have knowl­edge of the rules ap­pli­ca­ble to the scheme.

If a scheme has the pre­scribed rules and wants to adopt a no-pets rule as an amend­ment to PCR 1, this can only be done by the body cor­po­rate pass­ing a spe­cial res­o­lu­tion amend­ing PCR 1 and hav­ing this filed at the Deeds Reg­istry. But the new rule must take into con­sid­er­a­tion the vested rights of own­ers who al­ready have pets at the scheme.

The “grand­fa­ther­ing” prin­ci­ple is ap­pro­pri­ate here. This means not tak­ing rights away from those in whom they are al­ready vested. That is, you should not make those who have pets get rid of them, but once those pets die they should not be en­ti­tled to re­place them.

Jen­nifer Pad­dock is a lawyer and course con­vener at Pad­docks, a sec­tional ti­tle train­ing firm. Visit www.sto.co.za for free sec­tional ti­tle ad­vice or www.pad­docks.co.za for sec­tional ti­tle train­ing in­for­ma­tion.

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