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Resolving residential frictions

Conflict resolution between estate managers and residents is often a work in progress. How long does it take to resolve disputes, and how can rules be amended? Nipping conflict in the bud internally and early seems the answer in most cases.

(By Esther de Villiers; Estate Living)

By Esther de Villiers Doc up! All bodies corporate must have documentation in place to deal with conflict among homeowners, or between residents and estate management. ‘These documents must officially include a constitution and architectural guidelines, and must be signed by anyone who buys into the estate, making it binding from the outset,’ says Gerhard van Huyssteen, director of Plett’s Duin-en-See Ecological Estate.

Battles before occupation

According to Van Huyssteen, disputes often emerge even before building is completed. ‘Each estate typically has an elected architect and architectural design committee, and owners are obliged to submit draft plans, which are mostly approved swiftly.

‘However, in case of clashes, new owners and their personal architects meet with estate representatives to discuss, resolve, and pre-empt any future design disputes,’ he says. Rows involving pets, renovations, refuse removal, fences or security would generally be brought to the attention of homeowners association (HOA) trustees, who would rule before calling in the relevant ombudsman, or going the legal route.

‘When owners disagree with trustees, they can try convincing a majority of homeowners to swing the proverbial vote, but most cases would require convening a special AGM before rules could be revisited. ‘Failing this, some disputes do end up in a court of law, but we see this outcome as the absolute final resort.’

(By Esther de Villiers; Estate Living)

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