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Better informed trustees reduce risk

When things go wrong in the sectional title environment, we often hear: “Nobody told us about that!” or “How we were expected to know?”

We all know that trusteeship in sectional title is not usually one of the most rewarding endeavours; often thankless despite much effort by a few responsible individuals for the benefit of so many. Don’t get me wrong, it can be very rewarding but sadly, to achieve harmony and cooperation can be very hard.

Trustees are often blamed when things go wrong. Yes, trustees are ultimately responsible for many aspects but they are volunteers acting on behalf of all the owners in a scheme. Trustees can only do so much, especially if trusteeship is a small part of their daily life.

Information is key. Knowing what a trustee’s responsibility is, first of all, is most important.  Familiarising oneself with very basic sectional title legislation and the scheme’s rules is a good place to start.

We often find that many body corporate trustees and owners are not even aware of their own rules. Often trustees cannot tell me if they have their own rules of if their rules are the model rules (prescribed rules, whether the exclusive use areas are registered / shown on the sectional plan or created in terms of their rules).  This is understandable as things like units, sections, EUA’s, prescribed rules, conduct rules, special resolutions and so on are probably quite foreign to the new trustee. We all have to start somewhere.

It seems that most errors and omissions occur as a result of being less experienced, less knowledgeable and being unaware of certain of the important responsibilities of trustees. Very important aspects such as determining value, keeping the common areas well maintained and safe, budgeting and controlling finances and keeping a hand on the rule abidance; working with professionals can make or break a body corporate.

Here are 12 information gathering ideas and publications for trustees:

  1. A copy of your rules obtainable from your local deeds office
  2. A copy of Key Word Access”by Shirley Baillie
  3. A copy of The Sectional Title Handbook and other publications by Professor Graham Paddock www.paddocks.co.za
  4. A copy of Demystifying Sectional title by Marina Constas and Karen Bleijs
  5. A copy of The Pocket Rescue Kit for New Trustees  by Tertius Maree
  6. A copy of The sectional Title Insurance Guide downloadable from this website.
  7. Join the online community Sectional Title Online www.sto.co.za by Paddocks
  8. Join Paddocks Club www.paddocksclub.co.za
  9. Do a sectional title course via Paddocks or Tertius Maree
  10. Attend sectional title workshops and events
  11. Join sectional title community pages such as Addsure’s Facebook page
  12. Subscribe to blog articles such as this website

Workshops are often run by managing agents and other industry specialists. NAMA (National Association of managing Agents) also offer training sessions at various times around the country.

We feel that the costs associated with the above suggestions should be for the account of the body corporate.  Many workshops and training sessions are free or sponsored to keep costs to a minimum.

Websites with information on sectional title are abundant. Seek out the most up to date or subscribe to one which produces regular updates; this way you are sure to be alerted to important new information or changes in legislation etc. Information and sectional title knowledge are the trustees’ best tools for the job and certainly reduces risk.


Author : Mike Addison

Contact Addsure – The Leaders in Sectional Title Insurance – for fit and proper advice from advisors who understand sectional title. Contact us in Johannesburg on (011) 704-3858; in Durban on (031) 459-1795 and in Cape Town on (021) 551-5069