Announcements
HEADLINE: “Airbnb’s” – SHORT TERM LETTING IN COMMUNITY SCHEMES!
Date Published: September 1, 2020

 

If you were able to rent out your furnished apartment in Sandton’s Golden Mile for only 3 nights a month to an overseas visitor, and in so doing service your mortgage bond and utility account for the entire month on the Airbnb platform, why wouldn’t you ‘seize the day’, so to speak?

Well, unless the Management or Conduct Rules of the community scheme places a minimum time limit on the period for which a property in the scheme can be rented out, or any other reasonable condition with which you must adhere, surely you can go ahead and do just that!

But you must remember that when you buy a unit in a sectional scheme (or an erf in a homeowner’s association), you are buying into a community of people. You may own the four outer walls that you live in, or the erf that you live on in the case of a HOA, but the common property belongs to all the owners in the scheme in undivided shares and their collective interests must be considered. It is for this very reason that most, if not all, community schemes have Rules in place that either prohibit the operation of AirBnB or short term letting platforms from the scheme, or place a lower limit on the periods for which a unit may be let out, or, for that matter (and this is an exceedingly difficult one given the tough economic climate that we live in) do not permit rooms in the unit from being let out on a night-by-night basis.

In October 2019, the issue of short term letting in a sectional title scheme came before the High Court in the case of The Body Corporate of the Paddock Sectional Title Scheme No 249-1984 v Nicholl (29534/18) [2019] ZAGPJHC 437. In this matter the body corporate’s Rules prohibited short term letting for a period of less than 6-months. The Court upheld the Rules and the Respondent was directed to immediately cease from operating a short-term letting scheme from her unit.

The CSOS is unsure as to whether Respondent has taken this decision on appeal or not, but we will keep you updated.

Members of community schemes who either utilise their units as Airbnb’s or wish to do so, usually fail to take the following factors into account:

  1. The extra insurance cover that they must take out when operating such an establishment;
  2. Concerns around legal compliance relating to fire safety and other aspects of security – necessary safety signs and disclaimer signs must be put up in and around the unit;
  3. The fact that the Rules of the scheme must be given to each and every short-term lessee;
  4. Short-term tenants often compromise the security of a scheme as they tend to have a lackadaisical approach to issues such as ensuring that gates and the like are properly closed;
  5. Access to, and the use of any common property areas, especially swimming pools, gyms, tennis courts and the like, are usually tightly controlled, but short-term tenants have no vested interest in the scheme and will take less interest in taking care of these facilities;
  6. Frequently when it comes to short-term tenants, noise and other forms of nuisance increase significantly, and this places an unnecessary strain on permanent residents and other occupants of the scheme;
  7. Short-term tenants often do not respect the strict parking rules of a scheme and park anywhere they please, which irritates existing residents of the scheme.

 

In terms of the Sectional Titles Schemes Management Regulations an owner must take all reasonable steps to ensure that his tenant complies with the Conduct Rules of the scheme, and Rules made in terms of Memoranda of Association usually include a similar provision.

Of course, the same would apply in all other types of community schemes.

With the advent of fines and penalty provisions in Conduct Rules, unit owners would have to bear the cost of any fines that their short-term tenants incur should they misbehave.

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