Unpaid levies and restricting access

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20 Mar 2013

There are sometimes cases where levies aren’t paid on time or are not paid at all, and the body corporate, possibly out of desperation because they have tried just about everything else, restricts the owner’s access, either by deactivating his access disk for the gate or parking garage or preventing him from parking inside the perimeter of the complex. 

The court found in favour of the owner of the unit, after determining that the restriction of access amounted to spoliation and that the trustees were taking the law into their own hands.

This is according to Michael Bauer, general manager of property management company IHFM, who says this happened recently and ended in a court case. The owner, Fischer, took the body corporate of Misty Bay to court in Gauteng after it deactivated Fischer’s access disk to the premises.  

They argued that they were not preventing him from gaining access, just restricting it due to his levies being in arrears. Furthermore, they said that the conduct rules of their scheme allegedly allowed them to do this in such an instance. 

The court found in favour of the owner of the unit, after determining that the restriction of access amounted to spoliation and that the trustees were taking the law into their own hands. The body corporate, therefore, had to pay the legal costs incurred in this case.  

“While restricting access to the complex may seem harsh, the truth is that if the person has not paid his levies and the body corporate, after many attempts to collect them is still not successful, the usual method of waiting for the legal processes or arbitration can sometimes be very lengthy.  It seems logical then, for trustees to try any means to compel the member to pay his levy account,” says Bauer.  

However, body corporates must be wary about taking the law into their own hands. 

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