Written for Property Poser

A Property Poser reader has shared the problems caused by tenants in a unit in a relatively small complex.

The owner of the unit lives out of town and it appears that the tenants come and go regularly. It is not even clear who the tenants are at any given time, since a variety of people inhabit the unit and the composition of the group changes regularly.

The tenants seem to have no respect for the normally peaceful atmosphere and regular parties are held until all hours of the morning.

Loud music is played and partygoers speed in the complex. Broken glass and other rubbish will be strewn around as a reminder of the night before.

Our reader wishes to know from our experts what his remedies are. Letters of complaint have had no effect.

The sectional titles act provides that the conduct rules of the complex are binding on owners and occupiers of sections, according to Charlotte Vermaak from Chas Everitt in Port Elizabeth.

“By virtue of the standard management and conduct rules, the duties of the owner in relation to the use and occupation of sections and common property as imposed by the act, shall be binding on the owner, lessee or any other occupant. It is also the duty of the owner to ensure compliance.”

Vermaak says the standard conduct rules stipulate that tenants and other persons granted rights of occupancy are obliged to comply with the conduct rules, notwithstanding any provision to the contrary in any lease or grant of rights of occupancy.

“Trustees may take action and impose penalties against occupiers,” says Vermaak. “However, if the occupiers ignore the trustees or refuse to pay the penalties, it may be a more effective remedy to penalise the owner.”

Justin Strömbeck from Du Toit Strömbeck Attorneys in PE says the act and management rules empower the body corporate and trustees to do all things reasonably necessary for the enforcement of the rules and for the control, management and administration of the common property.

“The trustees can impose penalties on the owner, if so authorised in terms of the rules, whether he occupies the unit or not. This will oblige the owner to deal with the tenant.”

Strömbeck says if a tenant continues to break the rules, only the owner can terminate the lease in the manner provided for in the agreement and with due regard to the provisions of the Rental Housing Act. “If the tenant refuses to vacate, the owners may have to resort to an eviction order.”

It may even be necessary to report further instances of peace disturbance to the police, says Strömbeck. “It may act as a further deterrent to tenants who are overstepping the mark.”

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