12 Sep The importance of effective security measures in community schemes
Home security has become an all-important factor for South Africans to consider in their daily lives. The growing need for both domestic and commercial security created a massive industry that offers an ever-increasing range of security measures.
No obligation to secure
When reviewing the Act, it is evident that there is no obligation on trustees or owners to secure the scheme or individual sections. Considering the above and the fact that community schemes – including estate living – are one of the fastest growing property sectors in South Africa, it is curious that there are no requirements or legislated obligations on the trustees of bodies corporate or estates to ensure that their community scheme is adequately secured.
Security is expensive
One of the biggest monthly expenses of community schemes where security companies are employed, is normally security. The reason for this is the high cost of labour and the number of personnel required to provide a 24-hour service to a community scheme.
It is this very reason that community schemes tend to rather invest in the installation of security fencing around their schemes and access control devices such as intercom systems, tag readers, electronic biometric systems and camera systems. In this case, residents have to take responsibility and stay vigilant to maintain these security measures effectively in their scheme at all times. Ironically, the initial financial capital outlay of such measures far exceeds the cost of monthly security contracts over time.
Implementing security measures in community schemes
Although trustees are responsible for the management and maintenance of the common property, they cannot just use their powers as trustees to implement security measures and incur costs without the necessary approval from owners.
Trustees should engage with the owners transparently when they decide to upgrade, install or contract security services or systems. This normally happens in a general or special general meeting and such discussions should include details about the measures they want to implement as well as the associated costs. Owners can also proactively direct elected trustees to investigate or implement security measures to secure the scheme or estate at the annual general meeting.
This does not prevent owners from securing their own sections. They do need to obtain trustee approval prior to the installation of security equipment such as burglar bars or security gates. Once installed, owners will be responsible for the maintenance and upkeep of such security equipment, burglar bars or gates.
The actions of trustees and owners should always be in the best interest of the community scheme. Although there is no obligation on trustees to do so, it is important that they ensure the safety and security of their community at all times.
Contact Stonewood Properties if your body corporate need advice on how to implement security measures or any other queries related to sectional title living.
Author: Leigh Maingard – MD Stonewood Properties
Stonewood Properties is a professional property management company that specialises in administrating community schemes in Johannesburg and Cape Town. www.stonewoodproperties.co.za