Covid-19 Directives for Community Schemes
Each month, my intention is to provide you with interesting, essential, and relevant topics regarding community living and property matters.
I hope that everyone is doing well in the upside-down times we live in! Please consider the residents that are essential workers and work shifts. We thank all of you!
Please feel free to pass these articles on to your family and friends.
Covid-19 Regulations and Directives for Community Living
The Community Schemes Ombud Services (CSOS) regulates communal living and has issued its own Directives regarding many aspects of its functions and has also issued Directives for community schemes, dated 24 March 2020 and 21 April 2020.
Of importance for residents and trustees are the following issues addressed in the last Directive:
C. PLAN TO BE IMPLEMENTED BY COMMUNITY SCHEMES
6. Owners and occupiers (including tenants) living in community schemes may only use the common property (such as the common driveway shared by all residents in the scheme, or essential common property facilities such as the laundry room or the refuse removal area), insofar as access is for necessary and/or essential use. Scheme executives are required to publish a list of essential common property facilities necessary for use during this period and are further reminded that the fundamental purpose of a lockdown is to drastically reduce the movement of occupants in order to prevent the spread of the COVID-19 virus.
7. The scheme executives (trustees/directors) are tasked with ensuring strict compliance with the Regulations insofar as the wearing of masks and gloves, sanitizing surface areas, and keeping a 1-meter distance between individuals is required. Scheme executives must also ensure that only a limited number of individuals gather or utilize the shared essential common facilities at one time and may implement any other measures within the community scheme in order to ensure the safety of all the residents. These implementation measures developed by schemes do not require prior CSOS approval insofar as they enhance compliance with the Regulations, are fair and of general application to all residents (which include owners and occupiers) and are not prejudicial to any person residing within the community scheme.
8. Owners and occupiers (including tenants) are not permitted to walk around or perform any sort of activity on the common property unless classified as essential by the scheme executives irrespective of each and every unit owner’s share in the common property in relation to the participation quota.
NOTE: An owner or occupier may use his/her exclusive use area. Owners are advised to peruse the title deed of the unit or the rules of the community scheme to ascertain whether there is an exclusive use area allocated to them.
11. Transgression of the Regulations may result in a fine or imprisonment as it is a criminal offence to breach these Regulations as stipulated in Section 11 of the Regulations issued in terms of Section 27(2) of the Disaster Management Act, 2002.
COVID-19: Home Loan Relief
The “big four” banks that account for most of the home loans in SA have announced various ways that they are seeking to help home-owners and other borrowers.
Here are the contact details for the various banks should you need to take a payment holiday on your home loan or should you be able to make only partial payments for a certain period:
Home-owners who would like to apply for relief should mail firstname.lastname@example.org. The bank is offering opt-in payment relief to all customers whose accounts were up to date prior to the Covid19 crisis. This could take the form of reduced monthly payments for an agreed period or deferred payments for three months. More details are available here.
Customers who need payment relief are advised to use the usual digital and assisted banking channels and a dedicated Covid19 icon on the FNB banking app. The bank says it will be providing relief across all types of loans and credit arrangements its clients may have from 1 April to 30 June, provided they are currently in good standing. It is also offering reduced interest rates on any Covid19 interventions and will not be taking any fees on relief measures.
Customers who need payment relief should call the dedicated debt relief centre and home-owners who need help can also email HLCollections@Nedbank.co.za. A comprehensive Q&A document spelling out what relief could be available and how to apply is available here.
Standard Bank was the first to offer instant payment relief to small businesses and students and now also has various debt relief options for other clients, including those with home loans. They can email at email@example.com or call or request a call back here.