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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.

  • Annah
    Posted at 23:15h, 20 Aug Reply

    How is the law protecting the body corporate with regards to the owners that doesn’t pay their levies, if the body corporate cannot afford the court order based on the insufficient funds of non payment of levies what rout can be taken.

  • 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?

  • George
    Posted at 21:25h, 11 Oct Reply

    Dear Sir/Madam
    I own a unit in a complex of 20 units.
    Is there a way Ican pull out of our agent,so that I can run my own affairs.

    Kind regards.

  • Jacques
    Posted at 11:10h, 24 Dec Reply

    Can a BC install prepay utility meters for residents who are in arrears ? I know the 75% vote if the full estate wants to convert, but for owners / residents in arrears (cant the conduct rules be updated to say “if you are in the red 60 days, prepaid will be installed” ….

    Please advice

  • Sharlene Moyo
    Posted at 18:06h, 19 Jan Reply

    Our Managing Agent and Trustees keep turning of electricity because we owe levies even though we hav attempted to make arrangements towards the debt, how do we tell them it’s illegal? They have also threatened to have the apartment attached. I own the apartment how can we also have that stopped when we are willing to have the debt settled

  • Lucky Sithole
    Posted at 08:51h, 24 Feb Reply

    Thanks this is very helpful. One more question, given these COVID-19 regulations that have been imposed by the government and obviously having lost my job and business has been so poor. I will definitely pay in the event of my economic situation turning around. What rights do I have as an owner where by Body Corporate has cancelled my gate access card entry to the estate?

  • AxeCapital
    Posted at 17:12h, 08 Mar Reply

    When you have a building that is 4 millions in the red due to majority of owners not paying levies and
    The building is not far from being condemned.
    Then these laws make no sense.
    There appear to be more protection for non-payers than for those that do pay.
    And due to the fact that the building already is 4 million in the red there is no funds for a legal process which anyway take time and is very costly.

    CSOS is suppose to be there to assist with these kind of problems yet all they interested in is to collect monthly CSOS levies which isn’t being paid by the non-payers anyway.

    So what’s the point.
    There is nothing that protect a paying owner and to protect his investment.
    The paying owner can’t rent out or sell his place due to these non-payers.

    I hope somebody here has a solution to this problem.
    Take note that most of the non-payers also densified their units and more people are living in them that is suppose to.

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