So you live in a sectional title unit, and suddenly you get a message from the managing agent or trustees saying your family is making too much noise. The message is headed “Final Warning” and says you have broken the scheme’s rules. If it happens again, you will be fined.

The complaint may relate to parties, to your children playing musical instruments or to the noise of the circular saw you have used to make new shelves in your living room. It could relate to almost anything. The message is: “You have made an unreasonable noise. Stop this or you will be fined!”

There are only two provisions in the Sectional Titles Schemes Management Act that could apply to your situation. These are sections 13(1)(d) and (e). They say that an owner must not:

(1) use common property in a way that unreasonably interferes with its lawful use by others, or

(2) use a section or exclusive use area so as to be a nuisance to other persons who occupy sections.

So what can you do? Well, if you think you or any people you are responsible for are guilty of the behaviour described, you can do whatever is necessary to make sure it does not happen again. And you may choose to respond to the letter by apologizing. Or you may not.

If you don’t think that you or people you are responsible for have behaved in a prohibited way, here are three possibilities you should consider:

  1. You can write a message setting out your response to the complaint, detailing your reasons for disputing the complaint. You should do this if you want to get it on record that the complaint is incorrect or unfair in the circumstances. Particularly if the scheme’s rules make provision for the body corporate to impose fines, as many do, you need to get your response on the record.
  2. If you don’t think that messages are the best way to deal with the complaint, you can ask the managing agent or body corporate to put the complaint on the agenda at the next trustee meeting and give you notice of when it is to be held. Then you can attend and get an opportunity to respond. You have a right to attend trustee meetings and to talk, but not to vote.
  3. If the trustees are considering imposing a fine, they must give you an opportunity to tell your side of the story before they do so. So if you get a second letter inviting you to a hearing at which the trustees will decide whether to impose a fine, know that you are entitled to be represented by a lawyer at that meeting.

Whatever the outcome, remember that if you consider that you have been treated unfairly, you can make an application to the Community Schemes Ombud Service for relief. For example, you can apply to have a fine set aside.

Should you require any advice further advice on this subject don’t hesitate to contact us at for a no-obligation quote to provide the necessary legal assistance.

Graham Paddock is South Africa’s Sectional Title Guru.  Graham advises and drafts legislation for the Government. His advice is valued by all stakeholder groups in the industry.

Article reference: Paddocks Press: July 2019 special edition.

This article is published under the Creative Commons Attribution license.

Back to Paddocks Press – July 2019 edition.


  • Gwyn Slade
    31/07/2019 12:00

    Hi there, PLEASE can I use this for diesel generator noise?

    Thanks sooooooooooooooooooooo much.

  • Linda Mitchell
    10/02/2021 18:40

    What is timeframe for sectional title units and owners doing internal renovations to their unit…ie time and Monday to Sunday/Saturday?

  • Hi Linda,
    There is no set formula, but the principle is that the work should be done without unreasonably interfering with other occupiers’ use of their sections and the common property.
    In practice, work that can be done without exterior disturbance should be allowed at any time, but work with power-tools that cause noise or dust nuisance should be limited to times when this will least disturb other owners, e.g. not when people can reasonably be expected to be sleeping, on Sundays or public holidays when they can expect to able to relax.
    A scheme rule that identifies the issues and regulates the activities that could cause them, made by owners and approved by the CSOS is a sensible starting place, as the trustees do not have the power to impose conditions, nor do they have the power to control internal renovations if they don’t affect the structural stability of the building or negatively affect the appearance of the section.
    Graham Paddock

  • Darren Harvey
    15/03/2021 04:31

    I was reported for running a business from my unit, because I was cutting shelves for my kitchen and also because I welded a gas burner type stove for this loadshedding, which is on my patio. Can I request to know who in the complex complained so I can address this with them?

    • Why don’t you just set out all the facts in a message to the body corporate, if you have not already done so?
      If you make this request, the trustees/MA may well suspect that you want to ‘get back’ at the person who you consider wronged you.

  • I live in a flat with an owner above me who has tiles in hie entire flat. There is constant banging, scraping of chairs and other odd noises the entire day. To the point that I cannot nap, concentrate when working or relax while watching TV. I have taken this up with them on numerous occasions however they deny it and turn aggressive, often telling me I have psychological problems. I got our trustees involved and the noise stopped for a while but just started again. CSOS does not get back to after I have filled in all the forms. What should I do?

    • Hi Karen, you should keep contacting the CSOS, and if you feel you need advice on your claim, consult an attorney who knows how the CSOS operates.