By Ané de Klerk
When leasing a new apartment, tenants already have a long list of things to attend to (and worry about). With the demand for apartments in certain areas far outweighing supply, the pressure to get one’s application across the line without delay forces prospective tenants to get things done quickly: submit bank statements; give approval for a credit check to be performed; receive the lease agreement; sign and return it… all before that interested couple you spotted at the open house does so first.
In this rush, it is easy to either forget to check, or underestimate the importance of perusing, the Conduct and Management Rules of the scheme you are potentially moving into – something which, in time, may prove to affect one’s life much more than whether or not the kitchen has two plumbing points.
Why is it important to check the scheme’s Conduct and Management Rules?
These rules not only bind the owners of sections, but also its tenants. Even if the lease agreement does not mention the rules at all, tenants are bound by them. How is this possible? Because the Sectional Titles Schemes Management Act says these rules bind:
- the body corporate;
- the owners of the sections; and
- any person occupying a section.
Therefore, the tenant does not have to be contractually obliged to abide by the rules as they are already obligated to do so by law.
What implication does this have?
The tenant must align their conduct with the scheme’s do’s and don’t as outlined in the rules – whether they were aware of these rules upon signing their lease agreement and whether they agree with these rules or not.
Arguably of even greater concern is the fact that, if the body corporate has a valid fining rule in place, the body corporate can (after following due process) impose a fine directly on the tenant, for which that tenant will be financially liable. Again, whether the tenant agreed to this in terms of their rental contract would be irrelevant. The legal connection between the tenant and body corporate has already been established by law and therefore does not need to be created by way of terms or conditions listed in a contract.
While I have set out the importance of this fact as it pertains to tenants above, it is equally important that trustees take note. If you are having trouble with a rule-breaking tenant and have reached out to the owner to no avail, your hands are not tied. Why not address the tenant directly?
Not sure how to do so? You are welcome to send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org and our consulting team will be in touch with you to provide you with a quotation for our services in this regard.