Q&A – 2021 01

By the Paddocks Club team

Below are examples of two questions on the Paddocks Club discussion forum, to show you what is available to our Community members!

Can a member refuse to use the biometrics access control system?

Member’s question:

Good day Paddocks,

We have recently upgraded our security system and installed a new access control system that provides access either via a card or biometrics. The trustees feel that biometrics should be used (either facial recognition or palm / finger print) rather than a card as a card can be handed over to third parties to use which could pose a security risk. Some members are refusing to use the biometrics and requesting that we issue them with a card instead. Are the trustees within their rights to insist that members use biometrics failing which they must sign in and out with security?

Regards

Graham’s answer:

Dear member,

I don’t have all the background information available, e.g. whether the owners knew that the system had two options etc. but no, I don’t think the trustees can make that decision. They would be effectively taking away from the owners their right to choose one of the two available options in the system they funded.

Regards,
Graham

Are trustees or estate managers responsible to enforce lockdown regulations within community schemes?

Member’s question:

Good day Paddocks,

Please could you assist? In our in-house managed estate, some owners are complaining that others are not wearing facemasks. They feel that that is the management team’s responsibility to sort out this issue and impose fines on these people.

My argument is that this is the responsibility of law enforcement, and the reality is that the Disaster Management Act refers to public space – common property on an estate is still private property.

We naturally cannot penalise owners for behaviour not regulated into the conduct rules.

We have signage at all entrances requesting that owners wear masks, we have sent out correspondence with our COVID plan, also repeating the need to wear masks. Is there anything more we can do? Or should be doing?

I will appreciate any guidance you can provide me.

Thank you.

Graham’s answer:

Dear member,

I agree with your view that the DMA regulations that apply to places to which the public generally has access will not apply to ‘gated’ community schemes. And, like you, I don’t think a body corporate has the mandate or power to perform policing in response to what is seen as a breach of any national law.

That being said, I encourage trustees to take the type of steps you are taking, drafting and publishing a COVID plan for the common property and regularly communicating with residents on its implementation. But the tenor of the communications should be helpful and supportive, not threatening or intrusive.

Perhaps you could put up more reminders or signs and focus on this aspect in your communications with residents? And don’t limit these just to owners- when it comes to COVID, the audience should be every adolescent and adult person in the scheme. Signs may catch the attention of visitors, maybe, but permanent residents don’t even see them the second and third time they pass by.

People take extreme emotional positions on safety issues when they are scared of illness and death arising from a pandemic. But they all too easily suggest that it is the trustees’ or somebody, anybody else’s duty to take steps to enforce their views. I suggest that you don’t buckle to emotional demands that you punish residents, but tell everybody that it is the community’s responsibility to politely remind people who they see acting recklessly, and to keep away from people who behave recklessly, after reminding them that they should take residents’ safety concerns seriously.

Here’s a slogan that gives a sense of what I suggest:

We at [SCHEME NAME] don’t put others at risk. We don’t knowingly act in a way that is likely to upset other residents. On the common property, please follow these simple suggestions to ensure we can all use our joint property without danger and without increasing anybody’s stress levels in these trying times.”

Keep the suggestions few, short and simple, BUT, don’t make them absolute prohibitions because the younger residents, the extroverts—who don’t perceive any real danger to themselves—will dismiss them as ‘over the top’.

So for example, I suggest you avoid: ‘Always wear your mask on the common property’ unless you really know this is what most residents want. In a typical South African scheme with people of different ages and backgrounds, I suggest you will get better results with something like: ‘Always wear a mask if you could be within 2.5 metres of some person you don’t live with’.

Regards,
Graham


Article reference: Paddocks Press: Volume 16, Issue 1.

Graham Paddock is available to answer questions on the Paddocks Club discussion forum for Community members. Get all your questions answered by joining Paddocks Club.

This article is published under the Creative Commons Attribution license.

Back to Paddocks Press – January 2021 Edition.

Source: https://www.paddocks.co.za/paddocks-press-newsletter/qa-2021-01/

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