Written for YourProperty

The position of a satellite dish on a unit in a sectional title complex is the topic of this week’s Property Poser reader question.

A tenant has installed the dish, apparently without permission, on the fascia board of his flat and the owner – who says the dish is in the same position as a previous one – refuses to order the tenant to place it in a suitable position.

The trustees have ordered the owner in writing to request the trustees’ permission for the installation of the aerial (which has never been done) and, once permission has been granted, also to have it placed in the proper place.
Rian du Toit from Du Toit Strömbeck Attorneys in Port Elizabeth says there are various provisions in the Sectional Titles Act No 95 of 1986 and the standard rules that limit owners’ and occupiers’ right to make installations and alterations to their sections and common property.

“For instance, management rule 68 states that owners may not do something to their sections or exclusive use areas that will prejudice the harmonious appearance of the building.”

Du Toit says conduct rule four states that an owner or occupier may not make alterations or additions to the common property without obtaining the consent of the trustees.

“Conduct rule five stipulates that nothing may be done to or placed on any part of the common property that, in the discretion of the trustees, is aesthetically displeasing.”

Du Toit says Section 35 of the act provides that the rules of the scheme will bind the body corporate, the owners as well as any person occupying a section.

“The act and management rules provide that the trustees shall do all things reasonably necessary for the control, management and administration of the common property.”

The trustees’ permission must therefore be obtained before any installation or alteration to common property is done, even if it is merely to replace an existing item with a new one, according to du Toit.

Charlotte Vermaak from Chas Everitt in PE says the trustees may not, upon receiving a request for the installation of the replacement item, unreasonably withhold their consent.

“They may, however, impose a condition that the new item be installed in another manner or place than the original, due to uniformity or other requirements.”

Nel says, in the case of the reader, the owner argues that the new dish was installed in the same position as the previous one and that the new installation should therefore be allowed.

“The fact that a previous dish was installed in an unsuitable place, with or without consent, does not set a precedent to continue in the same manner.”

According to Nel, the owner must still obtain the trustees’ consent for the installation of the new dish and adhere to their reasonable conditions.

“If the owner continues to ignore the trustees’ written demands, they must take such steps that are authorised by the scheme’s rules, for example the imposing of fines.”

Alternatively, says Nel, the owner may be disqualified from voting for ordinary resolutions at any general meeting.

“If a real dispute develops, the matter may be referred to arbitration.”

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