Mon | Sep 24, 2018

A Matter of Land | Collecting delinquent maintenance fees - Differences in town houses, gated communities and strata complexes

Published:Sunday | July 29, 2018 | 12:00 AM
Craig Francis
The upmarket 60-unit gated apartment complex, Winchester Estate, in the Corporate Area.
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Since the article on the legal ways to collect maintenance fees at a strata complex, we have been inundated with questions about what obtains in a gated community or town house complex.

Today, we will look at that issue.

Gated communities, despite being almost identical in the nature of their operation to a strata complex, are very different based on the laws that govern the two.

In many gated communities there are security guards and common property such as pools, tennis courts and gyms.

A town house complex is usually a type of medium-density facility that is normally attached row housing or semi-detached (attached to one other).

It normally has a small footprint and has multiple floors. So it's a multi-floor house built as one of a group of similar houses with a common wall or walls bordering the adjacent unit.

These town house complexes normally also have common property that is shared by all the residents/proprietors of the complex. Despite in functionality they operate like strata complexes, legally they are massively different.

They are not governed by the Strata Titles Act although there are exceptions to every rule, of course, and are treated like a regular property governed under the Certificate of Titles Act.

While in a strata complex the owners are bounded to pay their maintenance fees because of the Strata Titles Act which gives the Strata Corporation and the Strata Commission Authority to sell the property if fees are not paid, there is no such rule governing gated communities or town house complexes.

In gated communities or town house complexes, payment is done most times through a homeowners contract.

Gated communities are governed by the many restrictive covenants that normally obtain on the Certificates of Titles issued to owners while the strata complex is governed by the Strata Titles Act.

 

MAINTENANCE A NECESSITY

 

Maintenance fees in these gated communities are a necessity as there are common areas that need to be maintained and staff that have to be paid, etc.

These fees are normally disclosed before purchase and the homeowners are given a contract to sign agreeing to pay the maintenance fees.

The contract can include clauses including what action can be taken if the homeowner fails to pay. Some contracts may include barring access to certain amenities in the common areas until the fees are paid, banning owners from having any visitors or a limitation of access to the common property.

A clause where the name of the delinquent owner is published at a specified public area on his/her property is also possible. It all has to do with what is in the contract that the owner signed.

Though the management of the complex is not able to sell your property, they can take the delinquent homeowners to court and sue for the recovery of maintenance fees.

The collection of maintenance fees in a gated community can be very tedious and extremely difficult because of the lack of legal bite, as with the Strata Titles Act. Hopefully, the legislators will move in a direction soon to rectify this matter.

My advice is that whether a strata complex, a gated community or a town house complex, you should pay your maintenance fees as these are needed for the proper functioning of your communities, and keep your common areas well maintained.

Keep sending our questions and comments and let's continue to explore A Matter of Land. Until next time, traverse well.

- Craig Francis is a commissioned land surveyor and managing director of Precision Surveying Services Ltd. He can be contacted for questions or queries at craig_r_francis@yahoo.com or Precision Surveying Services