Homeowners' associations, in the form of Common Law Associations, governed by its constitution, and non-profit companies registered in accordance with the Companies Act and administered in terms of its memorandum of incorporation.

Due to the fact that each association is administered and managed by a different governance document, it is obvious that when it comes to participation, representation, liability and responsibility, the contents of these regulations must be reviewed and adhered to. 

The biggest difference between this type of community scheme and sectional title and retirement developments, is that as an owner of an erf within an association, your responsibility extends to the entire boundary of the erf and the buildings erected on it, as well as your share of the common areas of the scheme, whereas in sectional title schemes, your responsibility and liability extends to the median line of your section.

Your exclusive use area and your pro rata share of the common property within the scheme, and in a retirement development, can be even further limited. 

Retirement schemes are developed in accordance with the Housing Development Schemes for Retired Persons Act, which ensures certainty of ownership in such a scheme and a maintainable standard of management and services. 

It is very important to point out that when deciding to become part of a retirement community, you obtain, not ownership in the normal course, but rather a housing interest, when such a community is subject to only life rights. 

There is further a difference between a housing interest and occupation, as a unit within such a scheme must be occupied by a person who is fifty (50) years of age, as well as their spouse, if applicable. 

Such a retired (subject to debate) person in a retirement scheme, based on life rights only, acquires the exclusive right to occupy a part of the retirement scheme, including the common areas, for the duration of their lifetime, unless terminated by agreement or due to breach of a life rights agreement, which is entered into between the beneficiary of the housing interest and the grantor of the housing interest. 

As opposed to a purchase as we know it, the beneficiary makes an interest-free loan to the grantor, at times repayable in full or part at the termination of the agreement, after the grantor has entered into an agreement with a new beneficiary as a replacement. 

Other than solely by life rights, a retirement scheme can be established in terms of the Sectional Titles Act and managed in terms of the Sectional Titles Schemes Management Act. The retired person will be the owner, in the normal course, of a unit in the sectional title scheme, and will be bound to adhere to the provisions of the rules Difference between HOA, Sectional Title and Life Rights which will restrict the occupation of the unit to a retired person and their spouse. 

A retirement scheme can also be registered as a share block company, in terms of the Share Blocks Control Act, where the retired person is a shareholder of the share block company and obtains a personal right to the exclusive use and occupation of a part of the property owned or leased by the share block company, as well as the use of its common areas. 

The use rights of the shareholder are determined by the use agreement, rules and articles of association or memorandum of incorporation of the company. The biggest restriction of a retirement development is that the occupation is restricted to a retired person, namely a person of a certain age. 

Of course, this is not discriminatory or an unjustifiable limitation, as the interests of the residents of such a scheme can be quite different to your average sectional title or HOA development. 

There is further, under the Housing Development Schemes for Retired Persons Act, protection offered to those with a housing interest in that financial contribution is always under scrutiny and limited in the interests of those occupying units, despite the fact that service delivery is exceptionally high in many of these schemes, an attractive feature which serves in many becoming involved in such a community. 

In sectional title schemes, the use and enjoyment of sections as well as the common property, participation, representation, liability, and responsibility is strictly governed by the Sectional Titles Schemes Management Act and the rules of each body corporate, if amended, or prescribed by the Act. Many sectional titles schemes are accused of having too many rules or not allowing enough freedom to its residents, the importance of rules being to safeguard the best interests of each resident to ensure a harmonious community. 

However, when the rules seem too draconian in nature, the Community Schemes Ombud Service can be approached to resolve any dispute, bearing in mind that any amendment to the rules of the scheme are reviewed and approved by the Community Schemes Ombud Service.