A minefield of new legislation and the growing popularity of communal living in South Africa are among the factors behind a new book aimed at educating and informing those living, buying or leasing property in a sectional title complex or residential estate or, anyone who deals with community housing schemes.
Co-author Marina Constas, who is a specialist community schemes attorney and director of BBM Law, says that the security and convenience of communal living is attracting more and more South Africans to sectional title complexes and community schemes like residential estates. The carefree lifestyle can come with a host of complications, however, including navigating the new Sectional Titles Schemes Management Act 8 of 2011 and the Community Schemes Ombud Service Act 9 of 2011.
She explains that this third edition of “Demystifying Sectional Title”, co-authored once more by Karen Bleijs, who is now an adjudicator with CSOS (the Community Schemes Ombud Service), is the most exciting edition from a learning perspective.
“Our comfort zone has been tested in the last few years, having had to absorb new sections of Acts, regulations and, of course, being introduced to an entirely new institutional structure for resolving disputes. The importance of a definitive guide like this became even more apparent when we saw how many disputes were initially brought to the Ombud Service. This onslaught has continued unabated. People crave knowledge. Every time we received a complimentary e-mail or attended a meeting where homeowners or managing agents pulled out a copy of our book filled with dog-eared post-its, we were encouraged to keep writing.
“The themes of our latest edition entwine to showcase South Africa as a property model of which we can be jealously proud. The amended legislation came about directly as a result of consumer driven pressure and speaks volumes about the dynamics of an ever-changing Sectional Title landscape. Both the new Sectional Titles Schemes Management Act 8 of 2011 and the Community Schemes Ombud Service Act 9 of 2011 now fall under the Department of Human Settlements. We must proceed from the understanding that Human Settlements is not just about building houses. It is about transforming our cities and towns and building cohesive, sustainable and caring communities with close access to work and social amenities.”
Constas contends that the Sectional Title model can be tailor-made for every housing need, from exclusive, upmarket estates to the buildings envisaged in the “Corridors of Freedom” project in Johannesburg. She notes that there are currently some fifty-six thousand Bodies Corporate in South Africa, with around eight hundred thousand units, and the three thousand homeowners’ associations registered contain five hundred and thirty thousand homes. “These numbers look set to increase. It is for this reason that the Department of Human Settlements has been tasked with regulatory responsibility. It has been a long time coming,” she states.
The book aims to offer knowledge and practical tools, making life in community schemes less stressful, Constas explains. “We also want to get the message across in a tongue-in-cheek, humorous way. There are many funny scenarios taking place in community schemes on a daily basis that would make an entertaining book all by themselves.”
The book is filled with original, home-grown cartoons and colourful fictional characters.
“We hope that our readers enjoy meeting them and reading about their experiences in community schemes. Any resemblance to real persons, living or dead is purely coincidental,” Constas concludes.