Complex living is complex, as has once again been proved at Six Fountains Residential Estate, east of Pretoria.
A resident of the estate has turned to court after he and the homeowners’ association were at loggerheads over building additions to his property.
Percy van der Merwe launched an urgent application in which he asked the Gauteng High Court, Pretoria, to order the association to immediately allow him and his family electronic access to the estate.
It appeared that the association fined him R100 a day for not supplying it with the “correct” building plans for the alterations to his property.
Van der Merwe in turn said he submitted plans – although after the fact – and refused to pay the penalties, which by now ran to more than R3000.
The homeowners’ association had added these penalties to his levy and when he refused to pay, they barred his electronic access.
Van der Merwe said in court papers that he and his family had lived at the estate since 2015. They had been using the biometric system to enter the gated community since then. This afforded residents automatic access, while visitors had to use a separate entrance and register each time they enter the premises.
Van der Merwe stated that during 2017 he made minor alterations to his property by extending the roof over the property’s garage. He also vertically extended two of the walls outside to utilise the space as part of his property.
Around April this year the association told Van der Merwe that he did not have any approved drawings for the alterations and insisted this be sorted out by the end of May, failing which he would face a R100/day penalty.
Van der Merwe said he obtained the drawings and handed them over to the association. The association was, however, not satisfied with the drawings and demanded that more be submitted.
A dispute arose between the parties with Van der Merwe sticking to his guns regarding the building plans. He also disputed that the association was allowed to fine him.
The association started to levy his account in October with a R100 a day penalty. The court was told that by the end of November he owed more than R3 000, which he refused to pay.
He accused the association of “helping themselves” to his money through this penalty.
His decision not to pay backfired when he was denied electronic access to the estate. He said his “quick and easy” access to the property was now compromised, as he had to utilise the visitors’ gate.
“This step was without a doubt to force me to settle the dispute penalty,” he said. Not even a letter from his attorney could convince the association to restore his peaceful access to the estate, Van der Merwe said.
He told the court the issue was urgent, as it sometimes took up to 15 minutes to gain entry through the visitors’ entrance.
In responding to the lawyer’s letter, the lawyers of the association said Van der Merwe was in breach of the house rules, which stated approved building plans had to be submitted before alterations were done. It was said that Van der Merwe simply went ahead with the alterations and he thus now had to pay the penalties.
Once he had paid up and submitted his approved building plans, he could enjoy the privilege of using the residents’ entrance, it was said.
Acting Judge George Avvakoumides removed the matter from the roll, and it was not clear whether peace was meanwhile restored between Van der Merwe and the homeowners’ association.