Author: Maryna Botha
15 June 2021
JAILING OR FINING TRUSTEES: IS THAT ALL THERE IS TO POPIA?
Week-end news reports seem to imply that trustees in sectional title schemes and homeowners’ associations will all shortly be in jail or face penalties of millions of rands due to draconic ‘changed rules’.
This is not accurate. With the full coming into operation of the Protection of Personal Information Act (‘POPIA’) on 1 July this year, trustees of community schemes will need to show that they have reasonable measures in place to ensure that the personal information of residents, employees and contractors which they process in the exercise of their duties, is handled with appropriate care. Trustees must however continue to perform their statutory responsibilities including those stipulated in the Sectional Titles Schemes Management Act (‘the Act’) and other laws, and their governance documents. Using and processing of personal information will therefore not suddenly become a prohibited activity.
For example, schemes are entitled to use their management systems and accounting packages to carry out necessary tasks, such as generating levy statements and sending notices of meetings to owners. They may draw reports of levy defaulters or of residents who have broken rules, so as to initiate further steps. Owners may still exercise their statutory rights to inspect and copy scheme records, in accordance with the Act. Schemes may record the details of visitors to the scheme in the legitimate (security) interests of all, as long as there is notification of such collection and there is a proper system in place safeguarding and deleting these records, as necessary.
Rather than being prompted by fear mongering, we suggest that trustees speak with an advisor who will assist them to assess their operating systems, make sure the personal data they process is adequately safeguarded, and to communicate with scheme residents as to their expectations and rights in terms of POPIA.
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