Gated Communities In South Africa: What You Need To Know

Let’s be honest, South Africa has its fair share of issues – and feeling unsafe in your home isn’t an exception. That’s why many like the idea of having a secure place for their families and expensive things like Ferraris and good coffee. This is why many people decide to live in a boomed-off area – an access-controlled area. Let’s talk about what this is, the pros, and cons and how it works and look at some of the bylaws.

The pros of boomed areas

Boomed areas, also known as gated communities or boomed-off areas, are residential or commercial zones enclosed by physical barriers like walls, fences, or gates. This is regulated by laws on a provincial and municipal level. These areas often employ security measures to control access, ensuring restricted entry for non-residents or authorized personnel only. Here are some of the positive things:

  • Controlled access and security: By screening the people before entering, these areas are generally more secure meaning less crime, issues and random people walking in the streets.
  • Increased Property Value: Gated communities tend to attract buyers seeking a secure and exclusive environment, potentially leading to increased property values within the area.
  • A Sense of Exclusivity and Privacy: You get to know the community and make friends that think similar. 
  • Access to amenities: Many boomed areas have amenities such as swimming pools, clubhouses or a gym. 

The cons of gated communities

While the benefits of boomed areas are undeniable, there are also some drawbacks to consider:

  • Restricted access: though a positive thing, it might make certain things more difficult like getting a delivery dropped off at your home. Also, inviting people for coffee isn’t as easy as it used to be – they need to sign in, give reasons and even call you. And by that time, you’ll have cold coffee.
  • Gated community laws and regulations: Many gated communities have a homeowners association (HOA) with rules that apply. These rules might include anything from building regulations to required gardening practices.
  • Social segregation (us vs them) – Many people only mix with people in their gated community. I know people in Midstream Estate who never get out of their comfort zone.
  • Expenses – Building and maintaining a boom is not cheap. Prepare to cough up for walls, guards, and that fancy app that opens the gate with your fingerprint as well as running costs (levies).

Considerations of boomed areas 

Boomed areas can be really valuable being secure in the place where you live. If you’re looking to raise a family in a safe environment where the kids still play in the street then a safe space with security is maybe the place that you need. But it doesn’t come cheap. It can be really expensive depending on the options that you choose. 

When starting up there or initial setup costs that need to be paid. These include:

  • Walls and Gates: Costs can vary depending on the size of the community and chosen materials.
  • Access and security systems: Whether you’re looking for a tag-in system with a boom or CCTV cameras and 24-hour guards – these have a financial impact on your budget.
  • Legal and Administrative Fees: Setting up a boomed area involves navigating legalities and obtaining necessary permits

Ongoing Expenses:

  • Maintenance and Repairs:Walls, gates, and security systems require regular upkeep and repairs. 
  • Security Personnel Salaries and Training: Hiring a good security company to manage your staff is important. Make sure they are registered with all the right legal bodies.
  • Utilities and Common Area Maintenance: Streetlights, landscaping, garbage collection and pool maintenance are things to consider in your monthly budget.
  • Reserve Fund Contributions: Many boomed areas have a reserve fund to cover unexpected expenses like major repairs or legal challenges. This is a legal requirement for sectional title properties.
  • Property Taxes: Though not part of your levies, you might be paying more in rates and taxes as well as capital gains tax when you’re selling your property.

Bylaws and legal frameworks for gated communities

Municipalities in South Africa require you to register your gated community. Your gated community should have a homeowners association if it is a freehold or fractional property behind the gates. For sectional title, there should be a board of trustees That manages the affairs of the corporate body. 

Boomed communities in Gauteng

In Gauteng, the Rationalisation of Local Government Affairs Act section 45 Act(10 of1998) Put on some regulation for gated communities within South Africa. This is obviously just one example but there are many other legal laws for other cities, municipalities and provinces.

For new gated communities, the act states that:

  • Primary responsibility lies with the applicant to manage and bear all costs associated with the restrictions. This includes erecting, maintaining and removing any access control structures, fencing, and signage as required. 
  • The applicant is also responsible for upgrading roads or relocating services impacted by the restrictions. 
  • To ensure compliance, the municipality requires a security deposit equalling 20% of structure costs and that the applicant establishes a legal entity to take on the obligations formally.
  •  Only temporary approval is given initially, for a period not exceeding 2 years, after which a new application and approval would be needed to extend the restrictions.

For existing gated communities, the requirements are:

  • Full access must always be provided to municipal officials and emergency services. 
  • The municipality retains the right to inspect and require alterations if access issues arise, or to remove structures itself if terms are breached, recovering costs from the applicant. 
  • Public liability insurance is also mandatory. 
  • The restrictions must also be consistent with local development plans and policies. 
  • Overall, the terms maintain municipal control while placing responsibility on the applicant to properly manage any approved restrictions.

Conclusion

While boomed areas offer undeniable security and exclusivity, their appeal comes at a cost. Restricted access, privacy concerns, social divisions, and hefty maintenance fees paint a less rosy picture.

Living in your white Ivory Tower could be extremely valuable and safe. However sink carefully before you do this as it is very difficult to reverse this – Especially if you are only one vote in the whole community. Ultimately, the decision to boom or not to boom boils down to individual preferences and priorities. here’s an article on property tricks and tips as a first time buyer

Happy investing!

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