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What is a family without a family pet?
Over the years, pets have become intricate parts of families and established members of the household.
While having a house with an enclosed backyard presents no obstacle for owning pets, people living in sectional title schemes, such as a complex or flat, might be restrained from doing so.
The Sectional Title Schemes Management Act (STSMA) regulates the law regarding pet ownership in sectional title schemes.
Annexure 2 of the Act states that owners or tenants in units must have the trustees’ written consent to keep a pet. While the trustees cannot unreasonably withholding consent, they must always consider the circumstances of the request and the best interests of the title scheme.
When allowing occupants in sectional title schemes to keep pets, trustees could stipulate that certain conditions must be met by the owner of the pet, and if these are not adhered to, the consent could be withdrawn.
Conditions could include; the owner of the pet must be considered in terms of controlling his/ her pet, the owner must clean up after his/her pet, and the pet should not be a disturbance to the other tenants.
There are title schemes that have a strict ‘no pets’ policy/clause included in their body corporate rules. This rule is allowed in terms of STSMA, but it is not sufficient to just put the rule in place.
In order to have this rule enforced it must be done in terms of a special resolution that is done by way of a vote and of those present at least 75%, both in value and in number, must be in favour of the rule.
Service dogs, however, are automatically consented to. This is regulated by Rule 1(2) of STSMA and service dogs include guide dogs, hearing dogs, dogs that are used to alert epileptic sufferers of impending attacks or diabetic owners of blood sugar level problems, and therapy dogs.
However, although this consent is automatic, the person must provide the body corporate with proof of disability that the dog is used for.
If a pet owner breaches the rules as set out by the body corporate in terms of pets in the title scheme, the body corporate can apply to the Community Schemes Ombud Service, Private Arbitration, or the courts in terms of having the pet removed. This will also apply if the pet disturbs the other tenants in the title scheme or if a pet is kept without permission. The body corporate can withdraw their consent, as already stated, provided that they have sufficient reason for doing so.
We provide expert legal advice to real estate agents, body corporates and home owners. Contact us for more information about owning a pet in a sectional title scheme, living in a sectional title scheme or purchasing a property in a sectional title scheme.
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