The rules regarding owning pets in sectional title schemes are often the cause of most of the disputes that arise within sectional titles.
Therefore, body corporate rules regarding pets is at the top of the list in the Sectional Title Schemes Management Act (STSMA).
There have been several cases where pet owners have had the resources to take their dispute to court. These pet owners consider it extremely important that they are allowed to keep their pets with them.
Additionally, there have been other cases where the body corporate needed to take their case to court in order to have a pet removed from the premises.
These court cases are expensive and time consuming and measures should be taken to avoid them as far as possible.
According to the regulations of the STSMA, tenants or owners in sectional title units must have written consent from the trustees in order to keep a pet.
Although the trustees are encouraged to be reasonable in their decisions regarding pets in complexes, they should still take into consideration the specific circumstances of the request while keeping the best interest of the scheme in mind.
Should the body corporate allow occupants to keep pets, they would need to stipulate the exact conditions that the pet owner is required to meet.
If these conditions are not adhered to, the trustees may withdraw the consent.
When any owner breaches the rules by having a pet that disturbs other owners or by keeping a pet without permission, the body corporate may then apply to the Community Schemes Ombud Service for assistance in having the pet removed.
Additionally, the body corporate my also seek the legal assistance of a private lawyer or the courts to have the pet removed from the premises.
There is a specific rule which stipulates that permission is automatically granted, provided the pet is a service dog, guide dog or hearing dog.
Furthermore, there are cases where dogs are used to alert their diabetic owners of blood sugar level problems, or owners with epilepsy of impending attacks.
Additionally, therapy dogs are used to assist owners who suffer from psychological disorders such as anxiety or depression.
It’s important to note that the owners should provide proof of the disability the dog assists them with.
According to the STSMA, pets must in no way be an inconvenience to other tenants or home owners.
Pet owners are required to keep their pet under control as well as clean up after it at all times.
A special resolution needs to be taken in order to instil a “no pets” clause in the body corporate rules. This is usually done when unit owners insist that they want a pet-free complex.
In order to make the “no pets” rule applicable, at least 75% of those present must be in favour of the rule.
Many home owners consider their pets to be family members. Therefore, when taking on a dispute that involves owning pets, each party must clearly state their grievances and solutions in order to come a speedy resolution.
For more information about owning pets in sectional titles and other matters related to property law, contact our attorneys in Cape Town and Johannesburg.
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