Sectional title living is very popular in South Africa due to its safety benefits, but living in such close proximity of one another brings its own set of challenges. These challenges only increase when you are renting your sectional title to tenants.
Due to the community factor of sectional title living, there are certain rules of conduct that must be adhered to. The body corporate is the regulating authority of these rules and regulations within the complex or estate.
But what if you are unlucky enough to have tenants who don’t play by the rules?
Legally, the body corporate cannot evict a non-compliant tenant, but they can fine the owner or even take further legal action in extreme cases. Therefore, when you allow a tenant to rent your property, you are in fact taking responsibility for him/her as well as any visitors they may receive. You may not have any part in the misconduct of your tenants, but you will be held responsible for them.
In the case of fines (a general and standard penalty used for sectional title trespasses), you will be liable to pay the fine and somehow recoup this from your tenant. This is often not an easy task with a difficult tenant.
It is also important to note that this applies to let-to-buy tenants as well. Until the day of the official transfer, you are still the owner and will be held responsible for ensuring that your tenants comply with all rules and regulations.
In the case of damages caused to the property by tenants, the same insurance rules apply as would’ve been the case if the owner themselves lived in the property. Damage to the exterior or structure of the building will fall under the building insurance taken out by the body corporate and any damage to the building within the home remains the responsibility of the owner, such as a broken oven, broken doors etc. This of course does not include damage to the tenant’s own personal property or household content which falls under the tenants own personal insurance.
This topic has caused much trouble between tenants, owners and body corporates since truly terrible tenants are often directly responsible for purposefully damaging property and simply refusing to take responsibility and paying for damage they themselves have caused. This usually leads to very expensive legal action and processes that can take many years, with no guarantee that compensation will ever be received or recouped.
So where does that leave landlords?
- Do your due diligence when it comes to renting out your property and ensure that you will not be having any of these problems. Get tenants to sign the rules and regulations along with their contract. This will help in the unfortunate scenario where you are forced to take legal action.
- Unfortunately there is not a lot that landlords can do in the case of extremely unruly tenants except warning letters and finally an eviction notice. It is often the case that such unruly tenants simply refuse to leave, and the owner is forced to take legal recourse that can take a very long time.
If you are uncertain about the insurance responsibilities of the various parties involved when renting out your sectional title or would like to have your current portfolio reviewed, please contact APBCO here.