The reports that appear from time to time in South Africa’s media about body corporates and home owners association trustees being inexperienced and incapable of carrying out their duties in a satisfactory way are by no means off the mark.
Our experience of the problem
We have had several experiences which have confirmed this. In the most recent case, we were involved with a decidedly upmarket gated estate with many hectares of vineyards, its own winery and exceptionally high value homes. At our first meeting with the chairman and trustees of the estate, it became clear very soon that neither the chairman nor the trustees, nor indeed the property manager, knew the project’s constitution on which all decisions by law should be based. Even collectively, they had so little information among them that they were unable to take any real decisions.
The meeting ended without a single resolution being passed and with some of the trustees actually walking out. This sort of ignorance and ineptitude is regularly encountered by the legal profession when dealing with home owners associations and body corporates. However the members, which these bodies are supposed to be serving, are often not aware of the problem because the developer or the chairman simply proposes resolutions, which the others then accept.
How to: resolving inexperience of body corporates
We believe that it should be compulsory for all home owners associations and body corporates members to undergo training in the legal foundation on which their schemes have to operate as soon as they have accepted their new positions. This training should also be updated at least once a year. If they are unwilling to accept
training, at the very least they should employ an attorney to sit in on some of their meetings and ensure that they are acting in conformance with the rules. This would go a long way in resolving inexperience of body corporates and the like.
If you are uncertain whether your home owners association or body corporate members are performing adequately as required by the law, please do not hesitate to contact us for advice and/or help at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Images courtesy of Greenleaf Designs and Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos.net.