Can you run a business from a sectional title scheme?
Since the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic in 2020, many people have started working from home – or even running businesses from home. This trend has led many trustees and bodies corporate to ask whether an owner or tenant in a sectional title scheme can run a business from their unit.
Before we explore this topic in detail, it’s important to note that owners should always secure the necessary permission from the trustees of their scheme before starting a business from their unit.
The Sectional Title Act and the regulations of the Sectional Title Management Act (STSMA) stipulate that a unit cannot be used in a way that interferes with the rights of other owners in the scheme. And it’s clear from legislation that a unit within a scheme is intended for residential purposes unless the other owners in the scheme agree in writing to the change of use of the unit.
When running a business from home, there is always a risk of high volumes of clients coming in and out of the property, which can cause concerns around security. Moreover, sectional title schemes with limited visitor parking can also be affected in a negative way.
The Community Scheme Ombud Service provides certain guidelines in an amendment of the rules of the STSMA. This amendment aims to guide trustees and bodies corporate as to how to approach the running of a home business in line with the Act.
There isn’t a ‘one size fits all’ approach, as each scheme will subjectively view requests to run a business from home. Important considerations include the noise associated with the specific business and how it will affect other owners.
In addition, if the owner wants to place signage on his or her unit for advertising purposes, it might have the unintended consequence that the scheme starts to resemble an office park, which may negatively influence the desirability of the scheme.
It’s clear that very careful consideration should be given to any request to the trustees or body corporate regarding the running of a business from a scheme. If a hasty decision is made, it can have unintended consequences that will impact all the owners of the units. It’s advisable that the relevant parties seek legal advice and that the scheme sets clear guidelines before this type of amendment is made to the rules.
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