Sign a fine lease

Private Property South Africa
Cathy Nolan

One of the thorniest issues facing sectional title schemes is what to do about tenants who regularly flout the conduct rules and make things unpleasant for other residents.

From the trustees’ point of view, the problem is that they can’t deal with such tenants directly. The tenants are not members of the body corporate and their only contract is the lease agreement with their landlord (the owner of the unit that they occupy). This means that neither trustees nor a managing agent can evict troublesome tenants. All they can do is warn the landlord that his tenants are breaking the rules and then, if matters do not improve, start imposing fines for each breach.

However, these fines will be for the account of the landlord, because ST Management Rule 69 clearly provides that they are responsible for the conduct of their tenants. And even if the fines are mounting up and the landlord would like to evict the tenants, the legal procedure can take a long time and incur even more expense. If the landlord happens to live in the same complex as the disruptive tenants, things can get very awkward.

However, that there is one precaution that landlords can take against such a situation, and this is to make sure that there is a clause in the lease agreement stating that the tenants will be financially responsible for any fines that they cause to be imposed by breaking the conduct rules.

Such a clause – similar to those providing for the recovery of outstanding municipal charges for water and electricity supply – may well make tenants think twice about breaking the rules and, at the very least, should ensure that the landlord doesn’t lose out financially if they do.

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