Cau­tion for flat own­ers with ten­ants

Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition) - - PROPERTY -

SEC­TIONAL ti­tle apart­ments have been the fastest-grow­ing sec­tor in the South African prop­erty mar­ket, and there are sig­nif­i­cant cost ben­e­fits, con­ve­nience and se­cu­rity fac­tors that make them a worth­while in­vest­ment and a good place to live.

The dan­ger of this type of high den­sity liv­ing, how­ever, says Michael Bauer, gen­eral man­ager of IHFM, a sec­tional ti­tle man­age­ment com­pany, is that, one or more oc­cu­pants can make life un­pleas­ant for fel­low oc­cu­pants.

This is par­tic­u­larly true in com­plexes where many own­ers rent out their units, be­cause ten­ants tend to be less re­spon­si­ble than own­ers.

“There are two main ar­eas of con­tention,” says Bauer. “The first is a breach of the con­di­tions of the lease agree­ment by the ten­ant. For ex­am­ple, the oc­cu­pant could over­crowd or sub-let the unit, when this is not al­lowed. He might also keep a large pet when this has ex­pressly been for­bid­den.

“The sec­ond is a breach of con­duct rules: the ten­ant may en­joy loud mu­sic or par­ty­ing late into the night which, in a high den­sity sec­tional ti­tle scheme, dis­rupts the lives of those liv­ing close to him.”

In any sec­tional ti­tle scheme, says Bauer, the trustees can im­pose penal­ties on the owner of the unit whether or not he is the oc­cu­pant. If his ten­ant’s be­hav­iour is un­ac­cept­able, it is the owner’s re­spon­si­bil­ity.

The trustees only have a le­gal re­la­tion­ship with the owner of the unit and are not in­volved in the le­gal re­la­tion­ship be­tween land­lord and ten­ant. Trustees can­not ap­prove or re­ject ten­ants placed by land­lords or rental agents.

Be­fore pe­nal­is­ing an owner, the trustees are obliged to send him a warn­ing let­ter. If this has no ef­fect, they must sum­mon him to a hear­ing at which he can plead his case.

Af­ter that, a fine may be im­posed on the owner if, in the opin­ion of the trustees, there has been a clear breach of the pur­chase agree­ment or con­duct rules.

If a ten­ant con­tin­ues to break rules de­spite warn­ings, only the owner of a unit can ter­mi­nate the lease agree­ment – once again af­ter giv­ing warn­ings. If the ten­ant re­fuses to va­cate, the own­ers may have to get an evic­tion or­der.

The best way to deal with such prob­lems is to take early action. It is ad­vis­able to con­tact the po­lice.

Th­ese and sim­i­lar mat­ters are dis­cussed in IHFM’s weekly news­let­ter at Call Michael Bauer on 083 255 4442.

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