This is a tough one. I am a trustee of a complex that has a rule within our legally binding and registered Body Corporate rules that states:
23.1. Levies and all other dues (including, but not limited to Standard Levy, Special Levy, electricity, interest and any and all other charges as may be levied by the Trustees and/or any Resolution from time to time) remain payable in advance, before the 1st day of the month in which they fall due.
23.2. Should the moneys be transferred from a bank other than Absa Bank Limited - the Transfer
is to be affected in good time, in order for the amount to show on the incoming bank statement by
no later than the 7th of the said month.
23.3. The Trustees may, at their own discretion - disconnect (or instruct for same to be done) the electricity to any unit in the complex where the levy and/or any other dues referred to in 23.1 remain unpaid by the 8th of the month.
23.4. Owners who have tenants in their units, will not be excluded from the disconnection of electricity should he/she have paid their dues owing to the Body Corporate.
23.5. The electricity mentioned in 23.3 will not be reconnected prior to payment, in full, of all outstanding dues, interest and dis/reconnection costs by the debtor.
So basically if people do not pay we cut their electricity a couple weeks later. We have a system of warnings, final warnings, cut notices etc. The problem is that as I understand it this is walking a thin line legally. Depending on who I chat too I hear cutting electricity is actually illegal and we may be sued. That worries me. So far it has worked fine and it has resulted in us having one of the best payment rates from our residents but I am worried as we have hit a new snag. Landlords who rent out their unit in the complex are starting to use this rule to enforce their tenants paying rent. One unit has been doing this for a while where he stops paying the levy if the tenant skips rent that month and we end up cutting their power for months at a time until they catch up. Now we have others asking us to do the same to their tenants.
My concern is that I don't want to be someone else's enforcer. The landlord wanted to take the risk of renting out the unit then he should deal with the crap and the legal hassle, not us. If a tenant sues the body corporate and this is not above board then the complex could take a serious financial loss due to legal fees, penalties, etc. Does anyone know anything about this? Looking for any relevant info. Personally I am of the opinion that we should keep the rules but exclude tenants from having power cut. The original purpose of the rule was to hit delinquent payers where it hurts (and boy does that work well) but in the case of a landlord-tenant relationship its the landlord that has to pay you and his tenant who suffers if the landlord is not paying.
As I see it a tenant not paying a landlord is a completely separate issue to the landlord not paying us. It is not acceptable in my eye's for the landlord to make his problem ours and we expect payment in full from a landlord independently of what his tenant is or is not doing. Am I right here?
IF we allow this trend to continue then I forsee landlords not caring if they get good or bad tenants as we will be their get out of jail free card. It would in the long run lower the quality of the entire complex if more and more people choose to rent out units to worse and worse tenants. It would also increase the ration of tenants/owners which any complex trustee could tell you is a bad idea in the long term. Owners tend to cause a lot less hassle than tenants as they are in it for the long haul and care more about their relationship with the BC.