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Management Bill deals with governance issues

The Sectional Title Schemes Management Bill was released for comment last month. The Bill effectively separates any provisions in the current Sectional Titles Act that deal with management and governance and incorporates them in the new Bill.

Warmback says the Bill presents the information “in a more user-friendly format, without changing the substance of the provisions”.

The Bill will fall under the Department of Human Settlements, while the Sectional Titles Act, which deals with the survey and registration aspects of sectional title schemes, falls under the jurisdiction of the Department of Rural Development and Land Reform. The Community Scheme Ombud Service will have a wide range of issues on which he or she can rule.

Some of the orders the ombud will be able to give are:

• Ordering a body corporate to take out insurance or to increase the amount of insurance;
• Ordering a body corporate to take action under an insurance policy to recover an amount from an insurer;
• Ordering a body corporate to adjust a levy that has been calculated incorrectly to the correct amount or to a reasonable amount;
• Ordering a body corporate to have its general accounts or its accounts for a specific period audited;
• Declaring a sectional title owner’s behaviour a nuisance and ordering the guilty party to desist from such behaviour;
• If an animal is causing a nuisance, ordering the owner to either remedy the situation or remove the animal;
• If an animal is being kept in violation of the conduct rules, ordering the owner to remove it;
• Ordering a body corporate to call a general meeting to deal with a specific issue;
• Declaring a general meeting of a body corporate invalid;
• Declaring a resolution made by a body corporate to be void or valid – an application in this regard must be made within 60 days of the relevant meeting;
• Ordering a body corporate to carry out repairs and maintenance;
• Ordering a person or an owner to carry out repairs; and
• Ordering that the body corporate either does or does not have the right to terminate the appointment of a managing agent.

Once the ombud receives your complaint, he or she may ask you to submit further documentation, or ask for the information you present to be verified, or ask you to provide evidence that attempts to settle the dispute have been unsuccessful.

The ombud will be funded by the government, and by levies collected from community schemes and fees paid for adjudication.

Graham Paddock, of specialist sectional title firm Paddocks and the lead consultant on the Bill to the Department of Human Settlements, says although nothing has been finalised, it is planned initially to introduce an ombud’s head office in Pretoria and three regional offices in Gauteng, KwaZulu-Natal and the Western Cape. Paddock says plans are afoot to open the head office early in 2011, with the other offices to follow thereafter.

“There will be adjudicators and other officials permanently employed, but when demand exceeds internal capacity, the excess requirement for the adjudication process will probably be outsourced to suitable persons in the private sphere,” he says.

Vick says the ombud service will eventually have offices in all nine provinces. “The number of adjudicators in each province will be determined by the demand for adjudication within that area. For example, in Gauteng, KwaZulu-Natal and the Western Cape, there are substantially more sectional title schemes, and the number of adjudicators in these provinces would therefore be higher than those in the other provinces, where there are fewer sectional title schemes,” he says.

The Minister of Human Settlements, Tokyo Sexwale, is to publish regulations in terms of the Community Scheme Ombud Service Bill that will cover:
• The amount of the levies that will be collected from bodies corporate, and at what intervals such levies will be payable, to fund the ombud service;
• Which schemes will be entitled to discounts on or a waiver of the ombud service levies;
• The fees payable when you use the services of the ombud; and
• The rates of interest on overdue levies and fees.

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