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Your legal rights when your neighbour's weed smoking annoys you?

25 January 2021 4:07 PM

Lawyer Nicolene Schoeman-Louw says a gated community, apartment or townhouse complex is based on principles of communal living.

A few weeks back Pippa Hudson received an email from a listener requesting advice about inconsiderate neighbours within an apartment building, how to deal with the problem and also what the laws are pertaining to sectional title living.

Due to a number of reasons, including heightened security, affordability and a more communal way of life, sectional title living has been growing in popularity over the last decade or so.

The example raises was around a resident finding the smell of her a neighbour smoking marijuana very unpleasant.

Lawyer Nicolene Schoeman-Louw talks to Pippa Hudson about this case and others.

For personal use purposes, there has to be a balancing of rights that needs to happen in this context - the person using the substance versus the neighbour in this case.

Nicolene Schoeman-Louw, Lawyer

From a sectional title perspective, whether that be a gated community, an apartment block, or a townhouse complex, is based on the principle of communal living.

You own your unit and potentially even exclusive areas of balconies and even gardens which may be for your exclusive use, but you share in the undivided common property such as hallways etc, with the rest of the neighbours.

Nicolene Schoeman-Louw, Lawyer

She says it is important to follow the published management and conduct rules for your particular scheme in terms of the Sectional Title Management Act.

These are filed in the deeds office and are properly registered documents, she explains.

In a case such as the one the caller outlined, she says, one would have to refer to the portion of the rules that deal with 'nuisance' and find a way to balance the rights of these two parties.

She says sometimes practical solutions may be found such as, in this case, is there a window that could be closed to keep out the smell.

Another option might be to write to the neighbour and ask that they only smoke in a certain area.

She recommends the trustees and managing agent refer to the rules and find a workable solution within what is allowable..

Not everything can be policed so there has to be a framework of good neighbourliness in all of this.

Nicolene Schoeman-Louw, Lawyer

Take a listen to the interview below:




25 January 2021 4:07 PM