NGL Attorneys | Commercial, Business and Property Law

“Is it pet friendly?” A question often asked by many potential buyers and tenants of Sectional Title units, which answer, in most cases, is a crucial factor in their decision to purchase or rent the said unit. To answer the question, your attention can be drawn to the Prescribed Conduct Rules in Annexure 1 of the Regulations to the Sectional Titles Schemes Management Act which states that consent must be obtained, which consent cannot be unreasonably withheld:“Keeping of animals, reptiles and birds –

  1. The owner or occupier of a section must not, without the trustees ‘written consent, which must not be unreasonably withheld, keep an animal, reptile or bird in a section or on the common property.
  2. An owner or occupier suffering from a disability and who reasonably requires a guide, hearing or assistance dog must be considered to have the trustees ‘consent to keep that animal in a section and to accompany it on the common property.
  3. The trustees may provide for any reasonable condition in regard to the keeping of an animal, reptile or bird in a section or on the common property.
  4. The trustees may withdraw any consent if the owner or occupier of a section breaches any condition imposed in terms of sub-rule 3.”

The purpose of such a rule is to create a nuisance-free environment for the other residents as we all know that our pets can bark, meow, chirp, and even the little gold fish blowing his bubbles may be a little too loud for your neighbour. This consideration, in granting or refusing consent, will be central to the trustee’s inquiry of whether you pet will unreasonably interfere with the rights of other residents to use and enjoy their units. It was decided in the case of “Body Corporate of The Laguna Ridge Scheme No 152/1987 v Dorse 1999 (2) SA 512 (D)” that trustees are to consider each request for permission to keep a pet individually and they are not entitled to refuse an application on the basis that they are afraid of creating a precedent.

Where permission is granted the trustees can impose certain conditions under which the pet must be kept and they can withdraw the consent if those conditions are not met. An example of an unmet condition could be where the pet barks persistently thus causing a great nuisance to the other residents. The owner must first be given notice of the breach; an opportunity to remedy the breach; a hearing where evidence is given; and the trustees’ decision must be recorded in the meeting minutes. The pet owner must be given reasonable time to remove the pet. In a scenario where a pet dies and the owner wants to replace it with another pet, consent will once again need to be obtained – permission does not automatically pass on to the new pet.

Some schemes can have an absolute “no pets” policy therefore it is important for potential buyers or tenants to read the rules of any scheme before getting their hopes up. Any unreasonable rule of the body corporate can be challenged and possibly overturned by our Courts. Parties who believe consent is being unreasonably withheld can submit their complaint to the Community Schemes Ombud Services (CSOS) after first exhausting all internal dispute resolution mechanisms of the scheme concerned. When purchasing in a sectional title scheme you must be mindful that you will be limiting certain rights in order to ensure harmonious living with other residents in the high density environment. Importantly, our law does not recognise an unfettered approach to all rights and, in fact, recognises certain instances where it must be limited. One of those instances will be where you will not be allowed to keep your pets in the scheme.

Storm Warmback is a Candidate Attorney at our conveyancing department. Click here to view her profile.

This article is a general information sheet and should not be used or relied on as legal or other professional advice. No liability can be accepted for any errors or omissions nor for any loss or damage arising from reliance upon any information herein. Always contact your legal adviser for specific and detailed advice. Errors and omissions excepted (E&OE)

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