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Thursday Apr 10, 2014

Property tycoon's golf estate court battles

Property tycoon Niemesh Singh - who is waging a legal war against what he says are the 'draconian' rules at the upmarket Mount Edgecombe housing estate where he lives - dashed to court this week claiming the estate management was barring access to his contractors.

But Singh, who says he has a property portfolio worth R700 million, including four houses on the lush golf estate, got a bloody nose when Durban High Court Judge Nompumelelo Radebe ruled that his application was not urgent and it must take its place like any normal application.

Singh, who has lived on the gated estate for 10 years, first went to court one Saturday morning in February after security officers threatened to take away his electronic access.

Last month he launched an application to declare the estate's rules, which he claims are enforced with an 'iron fist' by Mount Edgecombe Management Association 2, to be 'unlawful and invalid'.

Among his complaints are that domestic workers are not allowed to walk freely around the estate and residents are fined for misdemeanours.

This is expected to come before court on May 19, but the association will then be given time to file opposing papers.

Earlier this week, Singh launched his third high court application, claiming he was now being picked on because of publicity in the Sunday Tribune about his cases.

In his affidavit he said that, according to the estate rules, an owner had to use contractors registered with the association, and workers had to deposit their ID books with security.

No alterations could be done to a building without prior written permission of the association.

He said the doors and windows of one of his properties on the estate required stripping and painting and he applied for and was granted permission for a contractor to go on site.

When work began, the contractor reported that more labourers would be required because some of the windows were rotten and there would be more work than anticipated. The contractor also reported that some were beyond repair.

Singh said he gave the go-ahead to replace the wood with aluminium windows of the same design and colour as allowed on the estate 'so as not to offend the rules'.

He sought permission for the additional labourers and it was granted 'as long as it related to painting only'.

Singh said: 'While it (the need for additional workers) was not only related to painting, we did not deem it necessary to respond (to the association) as the work was not offending any of the association rules.'

He said it was maintenance and not building and many other homeowners had done the same.

He said the windows had now been replaced and only plastering and sealing had to be done.

But then on Monday, after the report detailing his court challenge to the rules, he received a notice ordering him to stop work and saying his contractors would be barred from the estate.

'It seems this is an act (of) reprisal. I have said in my (other) application that the rules are applied duplicitously and some owners are more equal than others. This is victimisation,' he said.

Lazelle Paola, the attorney for the association, said it intended to oppose the application and would file papers soon.

The Mercury


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