I have come across many absurd scheme governance rules over the years, but one in particular is an outdated apartheid-style rule relating to domestic employees and the various restrictions placed on them, often referred to as “domestic rules”.

Many community schemes in South Africa have rules aimed at prohibiting domestic employees from entering and moving around the estate unattended. Placing time restrictions during which domestic employees may gain access to the estate. Prohibiting domestic workers from spending the night at their employer’s property. Prohibiting domestic workers from laughing or having conversations on common property.

In most instances these types of rules have been carried over from our dark pre-democracy past.  Shockingly, however, it appears that some community schemes continue to intentionally introduce this type of rule, post-1994, and continue to enforce the provisions thereof to the detriment of the domestic workers.

In the judgment of Singh and Another v Mount Edgecombe Country Club Estate Management Association Two (RF) (NPC) and Others (AR575/2016) [2017] ZAKZPHC 48; [2018] 1 All SA 279 (KZP); 2018 (1) SA 615 (KZP) (17 November 2017) the Kwazulu-Natal High Court correctly declared that these so-called “domestic rules” are unreasonable and unlawful.

The following extract from the Singh judgment perfectly summarises the Court’s disdain for these types of rules:

“From a constitutional point of view their (domestic workers’) rights in this regard are severely restricted. The first respondent appears to have categorized them (domestic workers) into a class of people who pose a security risk to people living on the estate. Their position within the estate is reminiscent of the position that prevailed in the apartheid era: while they are good enough to perform domestic duties for their employers on the estate, which include the task of pushing perambulators on the roads, they are precluded from exercising any rights derived from public law and the Constitution. The restrictive nature of these rules also affect other basic rights of domestic employees such as their rights to human dignity, equality, freedom of association, freedom of movement, freedom of occupation and fair labour practices.” (see para 43)

I strongly recommend that community schemes across the country test their rules against the provisions of the Constitution, the Sectional Titles Schemes Management Act and its Regulations, the Community Schemes Ombud Services Act, municipal by-laws, case law and any other relevant or applicable legislation.  If it is found that a rule is is irreconcilable with these sources of law, or is considered to amount to excessive or unreasonable regulation, or results in unfair discrimiration when applied, the members of the scheme should act swiftly to bring their scheme into the 21st century by removing these so-called “domestic rules”.

Should you require assistance in determining the reasonableness or lawfulness of your scheme’s rules, please don’t hesitate to contact our consulting department at consulting@paddocks.co.za for a no-obligation quote, to provide the necessary legal assistance.

Article reference: Paddocks Press: Volume 15, Issue 2.

Specialist Community Scheme Attorney (LLB, LLM), Auren Freitas dos Santos, has previously been a Portfolio Manager and a Legal & Compliance Officer of a large managing agency.

This article is published under the Creative Commons Attribution license.

Back to Paddocks Press – February 2020 Edition.


  • Good day

    We are having challenges in our complex regarding rules which from my point of view seem unfair to say the least. We as men in our complex tend to come together every now an again to have some beers and socialise, we usually sit under one of our carports since we do not have a designated area to sit and braai or to drink. Our wives prefer this than for us to go to pubs as we are in the yard, which puts their minds at ease.

    We were told recently, by the caretaker that we are not allowed to gather and drink on “communal ground” which includes parking that’s allocated to our units. Another issue is that a rule has been introduced to cut off cell to gate access to those whose levies are in arrears, which I feel is not in the best interest of those that defaulted as it puts them in danger of being attacked at night. Please advice if whether the trusties are well within their rights to pass such laws or not.

    • Paddocks
      25/11/2020 11:35

      Hi Tumelo,

      Thank you for your comment. Please note that our legal team would need to advise you on your query. Please email consulting@paddocks.co.za and the team will provide a no-obligation quote for their assistance.

      Kind regards