The coronavirus regulations opened a can of worms and confused community schemes such as sectional titles, homeowners' associations and people living in blocks of flats, writes Lesiba Seshoka.
The coronavirus regulations opened a can of worms and confused community schemes such as sectional titles, homeowners' associations and people living in blocks of flats, writes Lesiba Seshoka.

Share facilities in common areas, not the virus

By Lesiba Seshoka Time of article published May 19, 2020

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THE coronavirus regulations opened a can of worms and confused community schemes such as sectional titles, homeowners' associations and people living in blocks of flats.

For people living in community schemes, it could mean confining them to the main dwelling, some of which are as small as 30 square metres$. Community schemes have shared facilities such as the clubhouse, playground and laundromat. There might be many people wanting to use the facility at one time, thus breaching the regulations against crowding.

The Community Schemes Ombud Service (CSOS) issued a directive to advise owners and occupiers that they may use a common property or shared facilities insofar as it is for essential use. The facilities included refuse removal areas, the laundromat and others deemed essential by scheme executives.

The CSOS supports the regulations and is concerned by those who are apathetic and unconcerned about the use of shared facilities and who advocate for full usage of such facilities. Such behaviour does not help alleviate, minimise or contain the spread and effects of the coronavirus.

The CSOS is also worried by those who act in a draconian manner, prohibiting the majority from using what essentially belongs to them. There needs to be a balance to ensure responsible use. Such responsibility lies with the governing bodies while enforcement is the responsibility of the police.

The scheme executives are therefore tasked with ensuring strict compliance with the regulations insofar as the wearing of masks and gloves, sanitising surface areas and keeping a one metre  distance between individuals is required. 

Scheme executives must also ensure that only a limited number of individuals gather or utilise the shared essential common facilities at one time, and may implement other measures to ensure the safety of all the residents. The measures do not require approval from the CSOS.

Meetings may be held telephonically, or by electronic communication, and votes may be taken via round-robin under the Sectional Titles Schemes Management Act or rules. Meetings may not be held in person.

The CSOS took a decision to not penalise any community scheme for scheduling an annual general meeting after the lockdown. Community schemes will, after their annual general meetings, submit their annual returns to the CSOS. It will not be necessary for schemes to complete an application for condonation for late filing of their annual returns. 

Should an AGM be scheduled after the lockdown, it should be recorded in the minutes. Due to the negative impact of the pandemic on the economy, executive committees are encouraged to enter into reasonable payment arrangements or relief plans with homeowners adversely affected by the lockdown.

Where homeowners have paid their CSOS levies, community schemes are under an obligation to pay such levies over to the CSOS as per the CSOS Act.

The CSOS urges people to follow the Covid-19 regulations to avoid a possible disaster.

Residents must continue to wash their hands, be responsible in the use of shared facilities and remain cautious and vigilant.

* Seshoka is an executive for corporate affairs at the Community Schemes Ombud Service

** The views expressed herein are not necessarily those of Independent Media

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