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Negligence of maintaining waste water & sewage systems

By Adriana Venter on Sun, 30 Dec 2018 at 14:49

Our Sectional Title property has a French Drain Sewage / Effluent services - waste water removal system. The Trustees appointed a Caretaker (she does not pay any levies and receives a salary as well)to take care of the above-mentioned system, security fences and gardens.She does not have the necessary skills but her husband assists with repairing the pumps etc.! She is currently sabotaging the sewage system to such an extend that we sometimes cannot use our bathrooms. This matter has been reported numerous times to the Chairperson, then they ask my husband (who has a Plumber trade) to help sort it out.
Question 1 - Is it legal for her not to pay levies?
Question 2 - What can we do as owners (the other owners are not interested) to get this problem solved?

The electrified security fences are most of the time not working, entrance gate got stuck yesterday(we recently had an intruder going around during nighttime robbing people), our toilets are overflowing, my husband wants to assist but she ask for assistance and then throws a tantrum if he discuss it with the chairperson. She has a long ongoing feud with the developer and is NOT an owner, but a tenant.
What do I do, the Management Agency doesn't listen, they only react to what the Trustees says, but the Trustees are resigning one by one because of the old vibes of the Estate before the Sectional Title was registered


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RE: Negligence of maintaining waste water & sewage systems

Murray Bennett replied on Mon, 31 Dec 2018 at 11:36

Question 1 - Is it legal for her not to pay levies?
If she is not an owner, as you state, she is not liable to pay levies?

According to PMR 8(3) non owner trustees may be paid if the costs are included in the body corporate's administrative budget which is approved at the AGM by an ordinary resolution of the owners....Show More

RE: RE: Negligence of maintaining waste water & sewage systems

Murray Bennett replied on Mon, 31 Dec 2018 at 11:51

If the other owners are not interested, perhaps you and your husband should stand as trustees [the resigning trustees can appoint you as alternates until the next AGM]

RE: Negligence of maintaining waste water & sewage systems

Frances Paton replied on Mon, 31 Dec 2018 at 13:08

Hi Adriana
In reply to your various questions –
1. It is the responsibility of the owner of the section, not his / her tenant, to pay levies. See an article by Paddocks - . As all owners must be treated equally it is not permissible to exempt one of them from paying levies. Apart from anything else, this means that the other owners are effectively subsidising this owner’s share of the cost of maintaining the scheme. If (as appears to be the case here) the caretaker does not perform her duties properly, the body corporate will probably have great difficulty clawing back the levies from the owner.
As the caretaker is an employee of the trustees you should decline to deal with her directly, and insist on doing so only through the trustees. Under no circumstances should your husband agree to assist with any further repairs, as the trustees could well blame him for any malfunctions.
2. With regard to repairs, there are a number of options you could consider. Trustees have an obligation to maintain the infrastructure of the scheme - they do not have a discretion. Appointing an unqualified worker to carry out skilled work is not sufficient. I would recommend that you deliver a formal letter to all the trustees at the scheme’s domicilium, with a copy to the managing agent, itemising all the problems that you have experienced and are currently experiencing. Give the trustees a reasonable time within which to attend to the outstanding repairs. Inform them that if any member of the body corporate or their families or visitors suffers losses (by virtue of your security systems or entrance gate not functioning) or becomes ill as a result of failure to maintain the sewage system, despite the trustees having been notified of the problems and having done nothing, they could very well be deemed to be grossly negligent and thereby become personally liable for any damages resulting from such failures. This often focuses their attention!
If you do not get any satisfaction from the trustees, your next step would appear to be to lay an urgent complaint with CSOS, emphasising that your issues relate to health and safety. Their website ( ) sets out the process very clearly. While if possible you should also involve any other owners who are dissatisfied with the state of affairs, which must surely be devaluing their properties, this is a step you can take on your own.
You should involve yourself in the running of the scheme. You mentioned that the current trustees are resigning one by one, so there could be an opportunity for you be co-opted as a trustee by majority vote of the remaining trustees (see PMR 13(2)(a)) or to stand for election as a trustee at your next AGM. You should actively canvass other owners to do the same. Trustees do not have to be owners so other persons could also be elected, preferably with the necessary skills which appear to be lacking among your current trustees. If you feel that the situation is becoming too urgent to await the next AGM, owners with 25% participation quotas can request the trustees to call a special general meeting with the removal of the current trustees and election of substitutes on the agenda. Bear in mind that the current trustees can stand for election again immediately so you need to be confident of having sufficient support (and candidates!) to achieve your objectives.
The managing agent takes instructions from the trustees, who in turn must comply with directives given to them at a general meeting by the body corporate. See Section 7(1) of the STSM Act and PMR 17(6)(m). It is therefore competent for the body corporate to instruct the trustees to attend to necessary repairs within a specified time. Does your annual budget contain a sufficient provision for general maintenance and repairs?

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