Fine for tenant who inherits skedonk

When Timothy van Rooyen rented a house in a sectional title complex in Retreat he was stuck with a problem – an abandoned, derelict car – and he was forced to pay the fine imposed by the trustees of the Body Corporate which he thought was unfair. I think so too.

I doubt if Mr Van Rooyen realised that he had moved into sectional title but there are management rules that everyone has to adhere to.

However, in this case the trustees could have been proactive, and fined the previous owner or forced him to remove it.

“After all,” said Mr Van Rooyen, “they drove past it every day.”

Mr Van Rooyen said the car, which was on blocks in his driveway, was a breeding place for rats and mice and a hazard to his family.

“The previous tenants were not very hygienic and it was a mission to make the house liveable again. The previous tenants promised to move the car, but it was just promises. I asked some of the other owners and the ‘caretaker’ for advice and they told me to push it into the street. Even the Grassy Park police couldn’t help. I told the previous tenant I would pay half to get it towed away. The driveway was too small for the tow truck driver who advised me to put the wheels back and then push the car into the street and he would fetch it the next day. I did that but the car stayed there for a week where it was vandalised. Early one morning it was set alight and caused minor damage to the exterior wall of the complex,” Mr Van Rooyen said.

“Not long after that my landlord told me the board of trustees fined him R1 500 for illegal parking and damage to property. I had no idea there was even a board of trustees let alone a chairman. Every morning the trustees would drive out of the complex and see the car. They knew who it belonged to but no one told me to move it as it was on private property. I wrote to the trustees but nobody has contacted me. Can you help me?”

Well, rules is rules and Mr Van Rooyen has to pay up. Zerlinda van der Merwe, community schemes attorney at sectional title specialists, Paddocks in Rondebosch, said Mr Van Rooyen, as an owner, is obliged to comply with the conduct rules of the scheme.

“The owner of a section, as member of the body corporate, is responsible to ensure compliance with the conduct rules in force within the scheme, which bind the body corporate, the owners and occupiers of sections. The trustees of the body corporate are responsible for the enforcement of the rules of the scheme and apply them equally to all owners,” Ms Van der Merwe said.

“The owner of the section, as member of the body corporate, and landlord, should have ensured that the abandoned vehicle is removed from common property, if the registered or approved conduct rules of the body corporate prevented such use of the common property.

“ Prescribed Conduct Rule 3(1) provides that the owner or occupier of a section must not, except in the case of an emergency, without the written consent of the trustees, park a vehicle, or allow a vehicle to stand or permit a visitor to park or stand a vehicle on any part of the common property, other than a parking bay allocated to that section or a parking bay allocated for visitors’ parking. The amended conduct rules of the scheme may provide for the towing away of any vehicles parked in contravention of the rules governing parking, at the risk and expense of the owner of the vehicle.

“The fine raised would need to be contained in the scheme’s conduct rules so the trustees can be authorised to raise some on the levy account of the owner. The fine would not include an amount for damages, as this would be the subject of a delictual action, which falls outside the scope of the sectional title legislation,” Ms Van der Merwe said.

It means that Mr Van Rooyen does not have to pay for the fire damage as it was caused by the vandals who set the car alight.

Visit www.paddocks.co.za or phone 021 686 3950 for more information.