Is mediation the way forward to assist the Body Corporate in creating rules to govern complexes in the current climate?
The Body Corporate and Trustees of Sectional Title Schemes face the challenge of implementing rules that will prevent the spread of COVID-19 through complexes. Complexes, be they residential estates, retirement villages, townhouses or flats, must comply with the regulations set forth in the Disaster Management Act, to avoid the spread of COVID-19 amongst residents.
1. Does the Government provide any guidance on sectional title schemes?
In so far as the Disaster Management Act states, citizens of South Africa are confined to their places of residence with limited exceptions (accessing essential goods and services, obtaining a social grant and seeking emergency or life-saving or chronic medical attention). The Regulations to the Disaster Management Act do not specifically provide direction on how sectional title schemes should operate under lockdown. The implementation of a successful lockdown is left to the discretion of residents of complexes or if the Body Corporate and its Trustees have enforced rules, the latter.
2. Can the Board of Trustees meet during the lockdown?
The Community Schemes Ombud Service has provided that Regulation 11(5) of the Sectional Titles Schemes Management Act (“STSMA”) must be applied. This Regulation permits trustees to conduct meetings telephonically or via other technological platforms. This Regulation, in essence, allows for the Board to meet and discuss issues that have arisen and to create a set of Rules governing the complex for the duration of the lockdown.
3. Can the Body Corporate meet during the lockdown?
Similarly to the Board of Trustees meeting, the Community Schemes Ombud Services advise that Regulation 17(9) of the STMA applies to allow for Body Corporates to have their Special or General Meetings via telephone or other technological platforms.
4. How can the common area be made safer?
As per the Directive, common areas should be regularly sanitised and provide hand sanitisers and posters educating encouraging people to remain observant at the common areas. The Body Corporate or Trustees should consider creating a timetable whereby residents can choose slots to enjoy common areas. This will ensure that the Lockdown Regulations forbidding gatherings is not violated.
5. What about the movement of children in the complex?
Understandably, there are difficulties surrounding the daunting task of keeping children confined indoors for long periods. Hence, there is a need for a timetable in the complex to avoid children from congregating.
6. What about security guards in the complex?
The Body Corporate and its Trustees have a responsibility to ensure that their employees are safe during the lockdown. The Directive states that security guards must be provided with “the necessary risk mitigation kits, like masks, gloves, and sanitizers.”
7. Why choose mediation?
The Body Corporate and its Trustees should consider utilising a professional third party to assist them in creating rules for the complex or assisting in dispute cases where residents fail to adhere to safety precautions in the complex. Mediation or independent facilitated meetings offers a process to settle these matters efficiently whilst preserving the relationships in the complex.
8. How can Mediateworks Assist?
Mediate Works has a diverse panel of highly experienced experts from enquiry chairpersons, investigators, facilitators, mediators, counselors and lawyers to assist. Ebrahim has sat as an adjudicator for CSOS for some time and has co-trained a number of the CSOS mediators through Conflict Dynamics.
Body Corporates and Trustees of Sectional Title Schemes to navigate themselves out of any disputes that may arise. We have adapted our processes to comply with the law, your disciplinary framework and the need to comply with the current lockdown regulations. We use secure and efficient online platforms to deliver.