Fighting special levies

Question:
We received a letter from the trustees informing us that they will raise a special levy during the six months starting from the end of February 2010. The reason for this is to paint our complex.

There is no paintwork required. They did the painting of the gutters and so on last year in November.

Is this allowed? The trustees did not circulate the quotes and the letter informed us they have been looking for contractors for the past six months.

Answer:
In terms of prescribed management rule 31(4) the trustees may from time to time raise special levies without consulting owners when it is necessary and when the expense has not been budgeted for.

Painting of the scheme’s building is an expense which is usually considered to be maintenance of the common property and this expense is usually budgeted for under the maintenance item of the annual budget. If painting of the building was included in the last annual budget and you believe that repainting the building is not necessary then you may want to inform the trustees that you believe they have irregularly raised the special levy. If they disagree with you then your recourse is not to withhold payment of the levy as this may ultimately end up costing you more in terms of interest and legal fees, but you can consider initiating arbitration against the body corporate.

However, before you declare a dispute in this regard I suggest you obtain legal advice from an attorney who is well versed in sectional title matters. You may find that the legal costs involved in arbitration outweigh the costs of the special levy.

Article by: Jennifer Clements - www.paddocks.co.za