Blog | 19th April 2021

Your Role in the Body Corporate

You’ve done the sums and your budget, been credit-checked, applied, been approved and the dreams of your new home are quickly turning into a reality. Then you enjoy all that follow-up excitement about how you’re going to arrange your furniture and what bargains you might be on the lookout for to add to your very own personal sense of style. So, if after all that hard work, effort and pride, you moved in and things around the complex started to go downhill… wouldn’t you be mortified? It is your investment after all and buying property is probably one of the biggest you’ll make in your lifetime.

That’s why developments have a Body Corporate; there to protect your investment and make sure that the sense of pride you bought into remains long after that fresh paint smell has faded.  All-things Body Corporate are is covered for you in our latest PodAcademy Podcast click here / but for those of you who prefer the reading option, we’ve set out all the bases for you here in our latest blog.

In a nutshell

What is it?

The Body Corporate is the collective name given to the owners of units within a sectional title scheme (usually apartments and townhouses).

How is it formed?

The Body Corporate is formed as soon as the developer transfers the first unit’s ownership.

What does it do?

The Body Corporate maintains, manages and controls the common property on behalf of all the owners by using a predetermined monthly collection of levies as the budget for ongoing running costs that are required to maintain the estate (complex). It also finalises the list of by-laws that are specific to the development that should be adhered to by all who are living there — owners and renters alike.

Why should you participate?

Remember: information is power. Your commitment and interest in the Body Corporate’s activities are going to help you keep track of your investment and the factors that help to improve that, or conversely, those issues which may devalue your investment. Think about all the factors that piqued your curiosity and motivated you to want to buy at a particular development; those are the very things you should want to keep an eye on. Upkeep of the communal areas, the appearance of the development, security effectiveness and updates, as well as agreement on general rules about social norms and neighbourly considerations.

Body Corporates often have a bad reputation — unfairly. Sure, you may think of the Body Corporate as that unnecessarily-strict school teacher, but have you considered the function of the Body Corporate in terms of the protection of your investment? With general rules about social norms and noise for example, you might feel that it is common sense to be aware of noise levels once evening sets in; but you also may not have bought a property to live in but rather as an investment that you rent out to a tenant. Rowdy neighbours are an obvious problem on their own but think about the repercussions of this on your investment if you can’t sustain settled tenants because of them.

It’s not all doom and gloom though. On the contrary! The Body Corporate is actually set in place to make sure everyone’s lives are easier, with a go-to contact point for problems and concerns, that is ultimately setup to resolve any issues and keep things working effectively, running smoothly and your investment growing. From the mandated consensus on pets to even whether people can hang washing on their balconies or not, these decisions are made with the best interests of everyone’s comfort — and are then enforced accordingly.

Should there be a disagreement about whether certain rules are fair or not, the Body Corporate is there as recourse to owners and tenants alike. Adjustments can be made but should always be in the common interest of all owners within the scheme.

Levels of commitment

Being involved in the Body Corporate doesn’t mean you have to sign all your time away. There are different functions at different levels of the organisation that owners within the complex usually divide up amongst themselves, and who then set upon fulfilling those responsibilities as time goes by.

As mentioned, the Body Corporate is formed once the first unit’s ownership is transferred from the developer. Thereafter a series of meetings would be set up and this is how they are structured: 

  • Inaugural General Meeting (IGM): This is the very first meeting that takes place within 60 days of the Body Corporate being formed
  • Annual General Meeting (AGM): Held annually to discuss and update on yearly plans, achievements etc.
  • Special General Meeting (SGM): Held when the Body Corporate needs to make special decisions about issues that have risen
  • Trustees Meeting (TM): Held monthly between the board of trustees, managing agent and the estate manager; this is a status meeting on monthly reporting, approvals on matters, follow-up on progress and the likes.

Depending on both your own skill-sets and time capacity, you might be great with budgets and want to invest your interests there and would therefore sign up to be on the Trustees Committee. Conversely, you may want to keep up with the general business of the day-to-day operations and know about the intention and progress of the Body Corporate, but due to your own time and other commitments, you might only be able to commit to certain special general meetings as well as the AGM.

Remember that the Body Corporate decides what works best for its own efficiency. This means that members get to decide how, when and where they meet in ways that suits the collective and what may have been formal meeting room venues in the past, might now take the form of online meetings and discussions (given the way the world has adapted to social distancing protocols and so on).

Your home is all about you, whether you live there or not

Buying a house is a lot of hard work, so it is important that your investment remains your true focus long after you’ve moved in and settled down (or alternatively found a tenant and have successfully established their rental agreement). 

Poor communication can hinder the successful running of your Body Corporate, but we are here to help in any way we can. If you have any questions related to this topic, feel free to drop us an email on – (at) catherine@reeflords.co.za or post them to our Facebook page.

We wish you happy house hunting!

Think home. Think Reeflords.

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