Advice and Opinion

Tenants in Sectional Title schemes, whether short or long term, are bound by the rules

While it has become increasingly popular to buy sectional title property to rent out to long term tenants, renting to short term tenants, i.e. holiday letting, has also now become a regular occurrence as a way of generating extra income. The one item that is often overlooked, however, says Mandi Hanekom, operations manager for Propell, is alerting the tenants to the fact that they have to abide by the scheme’s conduct rules.

Many schemes, because of the disruption that holiday letting can create, would like to ban holiday letting altogether, but this would not be possible as it is restricting the rights of owners’ full use and enjoyment of their properties. The reasons for wanting to curb holiday or short term lets are often the breaches of security in that time and possibly that holidaymakers tend to be more relaxed than those who live there permanently. The thinking is that holidaymakers often have different schedules to those who are permanent residents and often stay up and use facilities late at night, hang beach towels out to dry over their balconies or entertain more than usual, in so doing often disrupting the lives of those who need to stick to their everyday schedules, said Hanekom.

Section 35 (4) of the Sectional Titles Act as well as rule 10 of the Prescribed Conduct Rules make the scheme’s rules binding on occupiers of units, whether they are owners, long term tenants or holiday lets. In addition, PMR 69 places the onus on the owner to make sure that their tenants abide by the scheme’s rules.

It is advised that all tenants receive a copy of the conduct rules with their lease agreement and if it is short term let they should receive these with their book-in form. In addition to the scheme conduct rules, the owner should have a separate list particularly aimed at the short term tenant dealing with issues such as late night parties, lost keys or lost gate remote controls, security issues or parking infringements, said Hanekom.

In this way, the owner possibly protects himself if he is fined by the body corporate or the HOA for misconduct by his tenants, because they, in signing the conduct rules accept that they will abide by the rules and will be responsible for their behaviour or lack thereof. The landlord then fine the tenant if there is any breach of the conduct agreement.

“While fining tenants does not get rid of misconduct entirely, it is often a deterrent, and would protect the owner in some way. The most important aspect is rather the prevention of misconduct by alerting them to the rules of the scheme and what they are agreeing to abide by by living there (even for a short time),” said Hanekom.