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Body Corporate or Managing Agent powers

By Marina Constas - Director BBM Attorneys

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Body Corporate or Managing Agent powers

By Marina Constas - Director BBM Attorneys

, |

2 min read

Can your Body Corporate or Managing Agent switch off or reduce your electricity if you have not paid your levies? The answer is a resounding NO.

Many owners in Sectional Title buildings who are in arrears with their levies are faced with the situation where their electricity supply is unilaterally cut off by the Trustees or Managing Agent.

More recently, the practice of reducing the electricity was attempted in order to avoid court action against the Body Corporate. What can owners do in this situation? Well, the Community Schemes Ombud Service has unequivocally held that Trustees in buildings do not have the legal right to terminate or reduce electricity services UNLESS they have a court order.

The Gauteng High Court has upheld this view in the case of Claudia Niehaus vs High Meadow Grove Body Corporate. The Body Corporate is not the supplier of electricity and therefore cannot wield this type of power in the scheme. Trustees may argue that the right to terminate or reduce electricity is recorded in the rules of their building.

This type of clause constitutes nothing but a power to interfere with such person’s right to use the electricity supply.  The Community Schemes Ombud Service will not provide a compliance certificate for such a clause in the rules. An owner who faces this situation can go to Court to obtain a spoliation order which means that the Body Corporate must restore possession of the electricity back to the owner. Alternatively, an owner can approach the Community Schemes Ombud service for relief. It should also be noted that if there is a tenant in the unit where electricity is disconnected, the tenant could approach the Rental Tribunal for relief.

Make no mistake, it is very important for owners to keep up with their levy payments. The Body Corporate has every right to claim unpaid levies and can go about collecting the levies in a number of ways:  They may institute legal action and would be entitled to recover the taxed legal costs from the defaulting owner and may actually attach and sell the unit. They may also approach the Community Schemes Omud and now, with the latest legislation ,could obtain an order attaching the rental from the defaulting owner’s tenant. We also find that going the correct legal route and obtaining a Court order to disconnect electricity is productive. The law has to balance competing interests, the right of the Body Corporate to receive monthly levy payments, and the right of owners to have undisturbed, peaceful possession of their unit.

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Recent comments

  • John Sadd
    Posted at 16:55h, 12 Feb Reply

    Our body corporate is overcharging for electricity via prepaid meters,and have admitted this.They are doing this to offset unpaid levies.I think this practice is illegal

    • Mandi Mynhardt
      Posted at 20:09h, 11 May Reply

      I am a Trustee in a Sectional Title Complex. The owner is in arrears, in fact she has hardly paid in all the years she has owned the unit. The Trustees disconnected her electricity. The Chairperson has emailed requests for payment, aswell as hand delivered the notice. Due to no payment and ignoring the requests the owners electricity was disconnected just before lockdown. Is this allowed? I received a letter from the CSOS in the early days to lockdown notifying the Trustees that no owners electricity is to be disconnect during the lockdown. Stating that Trustees don’t have that right in any event. I have approached the Trustees, however this matter is beening ignored. Please can you assist.

  • dave
    Posted at 07:24h, 02 Mar Reply

    You only make mention of non payment of levies not non payment of electrical bills?

  • Eddie calitz
    Posted at 08:21h, 10 May Reply

    Can the Body Corporate force you to buy electricity from the caretaker. The caretaker has a machine in her apartment and we are only allowed to buy from her at a charge of R5 per transaction….. And R2. 16 per unit electricity.

  • Reinette van der Zwan
    Posted at 11:37h, 07 Jun Reply

    I have tenants who do not pay. I have been struggling since January 2020 to get them out of my property. We do not have a contract any more. My lawyer gave more than 20 days notice for them to move. They refuse and say they have nowhere to go. This is not my problem. I want to move into the property. I am widowed and now as a single law abiding citizen have to pay R12000.00 a month which includes my bond an the levies as well as utilities
    for them to stay in my property. They were given notice again on the 9th of March before lockdown began to move they again did not move. They als locked me out of my property by changing the code on my remote. I have my own property, but can not stay there. I have to stay with friends and pay them rent to stay there. Where is my rights. The Body Corporate can not put of their electricity. I can not keep on doing this. I do not have the finances this. Please helo me!

  • Kristina Gubic
    Posted at 17:10h, 09 Jun Reply

    Who does the Body Corporate hold liable for electricity arrears? The tenant or the owner when the account is in the tenant’s name?

    While owners can be held liable for levies, what about electricity? The tenant knows that the law protects them from disconnection and the owner refuses liability because he is not consuming.

  • Ishmial
    Posted at 11:50h, 15 Sep Reply

    is the body corporate allowed to allow an owner to disconnect the tenants electricity when the tenant has paid electricity up to date into the body corporate account?
    If the trustees unlock the electricity box for the owner to allow the electrician to do so is there legal implications on the trustees?

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