Dismissing a sectional title trustee

One of the reasons why an efficient property management agent can be so essential to a sectional title scheme is that he can guide trustees in such a way that they avoid conflict with either the members or with each other.

“Sectional title trustees,” says Michael Bauer, general manager of IHFM, a leading Cape sectional title management company, “can occasionally end up so disliking and disagreeing with each other that it can lead to infighting and even to disruptive behaviour or serious misconduct by some trustees”.

Warring trustees, says Bauer, are in terms of the Sectional Title Act’s Prescribed Management Rules, not allowed simply to vote one of their fellow trustees off the committee. According to PMR 13 (5), says Bauer, it is necessary to get a resolution at a general meeting of the body corporate to get a trustee removed from his office, provided that the intention to vote upon this has been specified in the notice convening the meeting.

This, in practice, means that on most large schemes a majority of the members will have to have voted in favour of the trustee being asked to step down.

Although, sheer incompatibility, apparent lack of ability, non-attendance or self-interest are the common reasons for a trustee being asked to leave, PMR 13 stipulates that the only other reasons recognised for doing this are:

  • that the trustee has become of “unsound mind”;
  • that his estate has been sequestrated or has been declared insolvent; and
  • that he has been convicted of an offence involving dishonesty.

If he has been legally disqualified from acting as a director of any South African company, this too can be taken as a reason for his not being allowed to be a trustee.

“It is widely accepted that efficient trustees can “make” the scheme and it is, therefore, important that they act in a harmonious way and have access to informed opinions to make decisions,” said Bauer.

“Often the challenge facing trustees is to learn to operate efficiently in a sector with which they are not familiar – as their backgrounds have seldom included property experience.”

Apart from appointing a competent managing agent, said Bauer, trustees should consider appointing an alternative trustee who does have the relevant experience.

Article by: www.ihfm.co.za