It is incredibly interesting, the amount of Sectional Title disputes and queries we have received lately. Perhaps it is because we recently ran a national Sectional Titles Seminar in association with TPN, or perhaps it is because the majority of complexes have body corporate/ trustee issues. Not barring the reason for the increase, most South Africans can be relatively hard headed, the writer included, and perhaps if we took a step back, the more than probable moment of verbal fisticuffs, could lead to an amicable resolution.
Our topic therefore this week, focuses mainly on Sectional Title property; the home. Nonetheless, it can be utilised in most legal matters pertaining to property, whether it be rentals, lease agreement negotiations, tenant – landlord disputes and even evictions. How many attorneys would give you the advice not run to them directly and talk it out first! Makes you think right?
The fact of the matter remains, there are just some Sectional Title matters that just cannot be sorted out at an AGM or special meeting. We would however still give the advice to first attempt settlement before raising fists and declaring all-out war. The reason being, that Sectional Title disputes, in most instances, are emotional matters. Either the property is an investment or it is your own personal abode and no matter what, a person cannot help but to get emotionally attached to the premises. Legal battles based on principal lead to high emotions and a volatile atmosphere. So therefore, our first piece of advice is to take a step back and try to be objective. The second is akin to the first, you are living in a community and the premises is not a full title unit that you can do with as you please.
The third is to call a meeting and try to talk it out. If it is a technical aspect of the law, consult an attorney to assist you with your argument and if it needs to be put to a vote, find out what is required of you in terms of the Sectional Titles Act and regulations thereto. Even if you require the assistance of the attorney, don’t just jump straight into the legal process. Owners are more likely to listen to you when they don’t have a legal sword hanging over their heads; thus they need not get defensive. At the meeting, try to engage and not demand terms, the chances are you are going to be in close proximity to the oddly realistic, human shaped punching bag ,aka your irritating neighbour, in the near future and animosity at home is not what you want.
And finally, a win-win situation (pessimists consider it lose-lose), may just be better than 4 years on trial, hundreds of thousands in legal fees, a judgment that may or may not be in your favour and the frayed nerves of a managing agent on AGM Saturday. Please feel free to contact us for advice regarding any property related matter, and as always #happyrenting.
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