Rules and regulations
Know your rights and responsibilities23rd Feb 2021
If you are living in a residential estate, you probably know that there are a host of rules to which you have to adhere. Most of these you will find quite reasonable, and probably appreciate how they protect you from minor (and some major) nuisances. But you may find some a bit onerous so, if you are thinking of moving to, or buying into, an estate, make sure you know the rules before you sign on the dotted line.
Read before you sign
Read the rules carefully before you buy, or rent, a property in an estate. There is a sad story of a young family who bought a house on a beautiful golf estate, entranced by all the lovely green open space. Only once they’d moved in did they find out that their little dog was welcome to frolic in their garden, but was not allowed in any common property – even on a lead. Their children, though, were allowed on the common property – but only in the company of an adult (leads not necessary), but they were not allowed to play on the common property. So now the kids gaze sadly at all the lovely green space beyond the garden gate and, driving down the road to take the dog for a walk on public land, the sad residents gaze longingly at neighbouring estates, where kids and dogs frolic on the lawns. If only they had read the rules upfront …
It works both ways
It works both ways. If your neighbour is doing something you find offensive, check the rules before you complain. If, for example, braai fires are prohibited, you are well within your rights complaining about the smoke that wafts into your garden or house. If they are allowed, though, you may need to put a lot more work into finding a solution to what is clearly a problem of positioning and wind direction, not compliance.
Ignorance is no excuse
The Latin phrase Ignorantia juris non excusat, which means ‘ignorance of the law is not an excuse’, is enshrined in law, so there’s not much point fluttering your eyelashes at a magistrate and saying, ‘I didn’t know stealing was against the law.’ And you’ll really struggle to get away with that one in an estate setting because the HOA and management are pretty good about ensuring that you get a copy of the rules when you move in.
But what about your friends and non-resident family? Make sure your guests know where they may and may not park, and whether they may fling themselves into the dam on a hot day, or if swimming is forbidden.
If you change your living arrangements by, for example, getting married or cohabiting, or having a parent, sibling or adult child move in with you, make sure the new residents are totally up to speed with the rules. This, obviously, also applies to house sitters and/or pet sitters if you go away for a while.
Check, check and double-check
Okay, so you’ve read the rules, and you are ready to sign the deed of sale. But did you understand them? Most rules are well written and unambiguous, but make sure that what you think you understand is actually what the rule means. For example, if the rules say you may walk dogs in the common areas as long as they are ‘under control’, check before you assume that means that your well-trained, obedient dog may walk without a lead. Like all good carpenters and tailors who measure twice and cut once, check twice and sign once.