If you own a pet and live in a complex subject to the Sectional Title Schemes Management Act, this article may be just for you. What if the body corporate does not allow you to own a pet? Or what if your guide dog or emotional support pet is not welcome in or around the place you live? Here is what you need to know.
If you love your pet, one of the first things to consider when renting a flat or buying a property that is part of a sectional title scheme, is whether it is pet-friendly. The focus of this article will be on the rules of the body corporate of sectional title schemes relating to pets.
It is advisable that before you buy a property forming part of a sectional title scheme, to familiarise yourself with the rules of the body corporate and ascertain whether your pet is welcome in the complex. In most instances, pets are allowed, but on certain conditions, such as obtaining written consent from the body corporate and having control over your pet to avoid it becoming a nuisance to your neighbours. Depending on the body corporate, consent may be based on the type and size of the animal. It would only be fair and in the public interest that you are not allowed to bring your pet crocodile1 to the park where children are playing or keep it in your apartment. Not only would it be a nuisance, but it is also extremely dangerous. The same principle applies to dangerous dog breeds and other animals that are not suited for a domestic environment and/or residential areas.
Generally, body corporates will be specific about which animals are allowed, providing a list of acceptable dog breeds and other animals. Body corporates will normally allow cats, small to medium-sized dogs, and other small pets with their written consent. Such written consent should, however, not be unreasonably withheld.
In the matter of Body Corporate of Laguna Ridge Scheme N.O. 152/1987 v Dorset 1999 (2) SA 512 (D), the court emphasised that the trustees of body corporates must consider the individual circumstances of each application when determining whether to allow pet ownership. In this matter, the body corporate denied consent to having pets in the complex as a general policy, as opposed to considering each request on its own merits.
The court granted the applicant, who was the owner of a small Yorkshire Terrier dog breed not causing a nuisance, permission to keep the pet, subject to certain conditions.
The Conduct Rules prescribed in terms of section 10(2)(b) of the Sectional Titles Schemes Management Act 8 of 2011, as it appears in the Annexure 2 of the Sectional Titles Management Regulations, provides the following:
• Owners may apply to keep a pet with the written consent of the trustees.
• Such consent must not be reasonably withheld.
• Owners suffering from a disability and who reasonably requires a guide, hearing, or assistance animal, must be considered to have the trustees’ consent to keep the animal in the section and accompany the animal on the common property.
• The trustees may provide for any reasonable conditions relating to the keeping of the animal in a section or on common property.
• Consent may be withdrawn if any of the conditions are not adhered to.
Only an animal prescribed by a medical practitioner, for example, a guide dog for a blind person, or an emotional support pet prescribed by a mental health care professional, are automatically deemed to have consent. The person who has obtained this automatic consent may still be subject to certain reasonable conditions, as determined by the trustees.
The Community Schemes Ombud Service (CSOS) is established to assist people with disputes relating to properties subject to the Sectional Titles Scheme Management Act 8 of 2011. The decisions of the ombud are equivalent to that of a High Court and are enforceable as such.
This article is a general information sheet and should not be used or relied on as legal or other professional advice. No liability can be accepted for any errors or omissions nor for any loss or damage arising from reliance upon any information herein. Always contact your legal adviser for specific and detailed advice. Errors and omissions excepted (E&OE)