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Love it or hate it - winter is here. Some people are counting the days to summer; others revel in the opportunities winter brings: snuggling up with a good book, open fires and hot chocolate...
This month's newsletter shares a few ideas to keep warm. We also bring you more information on the limitations set by property zoning, try to clarify the responsibilities of landlords and tenants when it comes to maintenance issues, and shed some light on body corporate levies.
We have quite a bit of stock at the moment - including vacant land. Have a look at our website - - and tell your friends if there is anything which may interest them.
Until next time!
Kind regards
Daleen and Carina van der Linde

Keeping warm in winter.

  • Dress warmly. Wear layered warm clothing, both when indoors and outdoors. Hats, thermal underwear, thick socks, scarves and gloves all help to retain natural body heat. Wear thick socks and slippers at home.
  • Hot drinks and wholesome home-cooked meals, such as soups and stews, are winners to warm you up.
  • Keep the heat inside. Open curtains and blinds to let in natural sunlight during the day, and close them as soon as the shadows lengthen. If your roof is not insulated, make it a priority to spend money on insulation.
  • Keep the cold outside. Patch up drafts under doors with rolled  towels or something similar. Close windows late afternoon, and keep doors closed to keep drafts at bay.
  • Share natural body warmth. Snuggle up under a blanket instead of in front of a heater. And if you can snuggle up with someone else and use the other person's body heat to stay warm, even better.
  • Use old-fashioned warm-water bottles to heat up beds before bedtime, instead of relying on the very convenient electric blanket. If you have to use an electric  blanket, heat up the bed before bedtime, and switch it off when you get into bed. Remember to unplug  it at the wall socket if it is not temperature-controlled. Another winter winner is flannel sheets.
  • It is inevitable that you will use some form of heating. But be wise, and do not leave it switched on when you leave the room for a while. Do not heat unused rooms, and do not leave the heater on during the day when nobody is at home.




What is this thing called zoning?

Sellers often assume that because their property is situated on a busy road,  it will be ideal for buyers who want to open a business. Once again, only if the zoning allows for that. And in  these times of recession and high crime, families or friends often think it will be a good idea to flock together - buy a property and build a few homes on it, like a small, private complex. Good idea, but only if the zoning allows for that...

Each municipality has a Town Planning Scheme which stipulates the permitted use of land. A zoning certificate can be obtained from the Council, if you have the erf number. This zoning certificate will provide you with at least the following information:

Use Zone: such as Residential 1, Industrial or Business.

Height Zone: which indicates the number of storeys allowed.

F.A.R : the allowed ratio of the total floor area of buildings,  to the size of the land. FAR is the total floor area divided by the site area.

Coverage:  portion of the stand which may be built on, expressed as a percentage of the total size.

Density:  maximum number of dwellings which may be erected on the property.

Building Line: distance from property boundaries not to be built on.

Parking:  number of parking spaces that must be provided for.

Additional information on the zoning certificate may refer to the amendment scheme, especially if the property was rezoned at some stage.

Typical land-use or zoning categories in a zoning scheme include:

- Residential zones (e.g. single residential dwellings, group housing schemes or blocks of flats)
- Open space zones (e.g. public open spaces, parks, sports fields, cemeteries or private open spaces)
- Business and Commercial zones (e.g. shops or office blocks)
- Community and Institutional use zones (e.g. schools, clinics or places of worship)
- Industrial zones (e.g. factories, motor repair garages or warehouses)
- Municipal zones (e.g. electricity substations or water treatment plants)
- Transport zones (e.g. public roads, railway lines and public transport interchanges)
- Government zones (e.g. areas specifically reserved for government buildings)
- Agricultural zones (e.g. farmland)
- Special use zones (e.g. petrol stations)

In each of these categories, there may be further categories, which narrow down the use more specifically.

Residential zoning, for instance, differentiates between:

Residential 1 - the zoning which typically stipulates that properties can have a density of only one dwelling (house) per stand or erf.
Residential 2 - typically allows a density of between 10 and 20 dwellings per hectare. Bear in mind that a hectare is 10 000 square metres (or just under 2.5 acres). This is obviously the ideal zoning for cluster housing or townhouse complexes.
Residential 3 - typically permits a density of between 21 and 40 dwellings per hectare.
Residential 4 - allows for a density of more than 40 dwellings per hectare, and obviously caters for the construction of blocks of flats.

A property may only be used in accordance with the zoning. For that reason, it is not legal to open a shop, restaurant, office, factory or school on a property which is zoned as Residential. It is also not legal to build a few houses on a property which is zoned as Residential 1. The only way to do this, is to apply for rezoning, and it is not a given that this permission will be granted. A good townplanner (I can refer you to one!)  will be able to advise whether your planned use is in accordance with the guide lines for use in the area, and whether you have a reasonable chance for success to obtain the the required zoning rights.

 Buyers, beware!








Levies - pain or pleasure?

With the privilege of owning property, whether it is a full-title property or a sectional title property, comes responsibilities. 

When one owns a full-title property, it has to be insured against risks, security must be taken care of, there is likely to be a garden that must be maintained, and if something breaks – such as the gate motor – it has to be repaired. Improvements are likely to be necessary. You may want to pave, paint the exterior, or put in a pool. And for all this, only one person is going to be paying: you!

The purpose of the levy payable in a sectional title complex is to establish a fund from which similar expenses can be paid.

In terms of the Sectional Titles Act of 1986, a body corporate is legally obliged to establish an administrative fund to cover its expenses.

These expenses include things such as
• Maintaining existing recreation facilities, such as the swimming pool
• Maintaining gardens
• Security, whether it is electric fencing, an alarm system, and access-controlled gate or 24-hour guards.
• Building insurance
• Water, electricity and gas for the common property
• Municipal taxes for the common property
• Salaries of people that the body corporate employs, such as gardeners and cleaners, and also the managing agent’s fees
• A reserve fund to make reasonable provision for future repairs, maintenance and improvements

These are expenses that the full-title owner would mostly have to cover in any case. The advantage is that when a cost such as repairing the electric fence or motor gate is shared, it lightens the burden. Few full-title homeowners put aside money on a monthly basis to save for repairs and maintenance in the future, so that when  the gate motor breaks or the house has to be painted outside, it causes a huge hole in the pocket. In a well-managed complex, there will be a reserve fund – a savings plan to cover large, irregular expenses, such as painting the buildings, or unexpected major repairs.

The monthly levy is determined once a year after the AGM, which allows the owner to budget for a lot of the expenses related to the property. Be at the AGM, and have your say about the budget and the way your money is going to be spent there. And then relax,  the trustees and managing agents are probably using your small contribution for the greater good of all properties in your complex.

That leaking toilet - whose problem is it anyway?

The landlord has every right to expect the property to be returned to him at the end of the lease period in the same condition as it was when it was handed to the tenant, reasonable wear and tear excluded. "Wear and tear" inevitably occurs as a result of normal wear and aging. It is a form of depreciation which is assumed to occur even when an item is used competently and with care and proper maintenance. It is basically depreciation that would have occurred no matter who occupied the premises. For example, if the property is painted before the tenant moves in and has to be repainted when he moves out 10 years later, no one can expect the paint to be fresh anymore.

The tenant is responsible for any damages to the property, caused by himself or anyone who was on the premises with his permission. Burn marks on a carpet, caused by a negligent domestic, a window broken by one of the children’s friends and hole in a door which is the result of domestic violence, are all examples of such damage. The tenant should have this repaired at his own cost if he does not want the damage deposit to be applied for such repairs.

The tenant is also responsible to maintain the property in the same condition as it was handed to him. This includes watering the garden, mowing the lawn, weeding the garden and pruning rose bushes, as well as taking care of the pool by regular cleaning, backwashing and treating with pool chemicals. Generally tenants are responsible for consumables like replacing light bulbs, dustbin bags and tap washers, as this is seen as "care and proper maintenance". For the same reason, a tenant may be expected to tighten a loose screw of a cupboard door hinge.

As the tenant lives at the premises, it is also reasonable to expect him to report any matters which may cause damage to the property in the long run as soon as he becomes aware of it. Damp issues and  roof leaks  are good examples.

So what repairs are the landlord obliged to do? Common law states that the landlord must maintain the premises fit for the purpose for which it was let. A problem arises when a matter is reported by a tenant, and the landlord does not deem the repair work to be necessary. The landlord is not obliged to fix every item reported. Items, which render the property unfit for the purpose for which they were let, such as no water / electricity, a burst geyser or an oven not working, need to be sorted out as soon as possible. However, there is no obligation on the landlord to attend to items such as missing internal keys, blown light bulbs and squeaky doors.

Sometimes tenants insist on improvements such as additional security doors or new carpets. Unless the landlord undertook to make these improvements in the lease agreement, he may choose to make these improvements or not. The tenant may of course improve the property at his own cost, but may not insist on being refunded by the landlord unless it has explicitly been agreed upon. We advise that such agreements be made in writing. These improvements may only be removed if the property is restored to its original condition.

It is not wise to withhold rent if a matter, which has been reported, is not attended to, as this will negatively affect the tenant’s credit profile.

Does this mean that a tenant is helpless in a situation where the landlord neglects his responsibility to keep the property in a condition fit to live in? No, but the correct procedure must be followed.

In most cases, the tenant will have to give the landlord 14 days written notice to rectify material breach, after which the tenant will be in a position to legally cancel the agreement, or to take legal steps if the material breach is not rectified. Withholding rent is itself a form of material breach, and will allow the landlord to take legal steps.

In an ideal word, a tenant takes care of a property as if it is his own, and a landlord maintains the property as if he is living there himself.


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