At an exclusive lifestyle estate in Pretoria, residents could walk peacefully alongside a lagoon or practise water sports. But then parties held around the lake got out of hand and the homeowners’ association decided to charge an entrance fee, and that’s when the trouble started.
Thabo Mtsweni, who owns a unit in The Blyde Balwin Crystal Lagoon, says the luxury complex has turned into a “prison”.
However, the developers, Balwin Properties, and the homeowners’ association maintain that this step was unavoidable after complaints about the “overcrowded” lagoon.
According to a member of the homeowners’ association, some owners gave their access codes to up to 20 people a day, which led to “chaos” around the lake.
The lifestyle estate in Willow Park Manor now charges an entrance fee of R250 per day when residents’ guests want to use the facilities at the man-made lagoon.
Homeowners still get free access to the lake and they may invite one, two or three guests free of charge, depending on how big their units are.
Mtsweni said he and numerous other homeowners bought their units to rent out. They advertised the rentals on digital platforms such as Airbnb. The lake is the main attraction for their guests.
He said the rules have been changed unilaterally: “It’s like an adult hostel.”
Owners’ fingerprints are now registered on a system.
“If your fingerprint is not registered on the system, you pay R250,” said Mtsweni.
Last Saturday, some residents blocked the entrances and exits to the estate to show their dissatisfaction with the new rules.
Balwin Properties said it had retained a significant stake in The Blyde complex because it was still being developed.
They “want to ensure that The Blyde is restored to a peaceful, sustainable and family-oriented residential development”.
The association and developer said the lake and lifestyle centre were “first and foremost for the relaxation and enjoyment of homeowners”.
They said the association had on several occasions spoken to representatives of the homeowners who rent out their units.
“Despite the association’s best efforts, a middle ground could not be reached,” noted a letter sent to the homeowners.
The survey showed that people not only rent out their units, but also sell access to the lake to visitors.
According to the developer’s website, one-bedroom units in the estate cost R849 900, while the two- bedroom units go for R1.4 million. Three-bedroom units sell from R1.7 million.
The residents dissatisfied with the new rules have lodged a dispute with the Community Schemes Ombud Service.