Maintenance in Sectional Title schemes

Maintenance in a sectional title scheme differs quite drastically from that of a full title property, where the property owner would be responsible for all maintenance and upkeep as the sole owner of the property. Sectional Title Schemes are more complicated as they are governed and regulated by the Sectional Titles Schemes Management Act 8 of 2011 (“the STSMA”) which provides that the body corporate must maintain the common property, while unit owners must each maintain their section. Exclusive use areas are the responsibility of both the body corporate and owner.

To establish maintenance responsibilities, the common property and sections in a scheme should be accurately identified and the registered sectional plan for the scheme should clearly show the boundaries of the common property and the sections.

Common Property

Section 3(1)(l) of the STSMA regulates that the Body Corporate must maintain all the common property and keep it in a state of good and serviceable repair. Common property includes all the land and parts of the building/s which are not included in a section on the general plan. Additional equipment and fixtures, gardens and walkways, coffee areas, dining hall, library, a swimming pool, shared parking facilities and drive ways all form part of the common property. It also includes the exterior boundary wall and fences, electric fencing and security system.

Most of the utility infrastructure and services are also considered common property and includes the water, electricity and gas supplies including pipes, wires, cables and ducts as well as the sewer system, drainage, garbage and waste disposal and separate meters for electricity, water and gas. Shared telephone, computer data and television services would also be common property.

Property owners are however, responsible for the maintenance of pipes, wires, cables and ducts which supply a utility service to their section and which are located in that section.

The levies paid by the unit owners to the Body Corporate, usually cover the basic maintenance and administration of the scheme. Section 3(1)(b) of the STSMA obligates the Body Corporate to establish and maintain a reserve fund or levy stabilisation fund, for unforeseen maintenance and repairs of the common property and empowers it to collect these contributions from owners, whenever necessary.

Sections and Exclusive Use Areas

The section boundaries of a unit in a Sectional Title Estate are defined by a Sectional Plan and the maintenance obligations of the owner extend primarily to the interior of the unit while a garden, drive way etc would be part of the ‘exclusive use’ area allocated to the particular unit. In terms of Section 13(1)(c), an owner of a unit must repair and maintain their section in a state of good repair and, in respect of an exclusive use area, keep it in a clean and neat condition.

Shared walls between the sections, the foundations as well as windows and doors in the exterior walls of sections, are part of the section and part of the common property and hence there is a shared responsibility of the unit owner and the Body Corporate with regards to the maintenance and repair costs equally.
Prescribed Management Rule (“PMR”) 31(2) of the Sectional Titles Schemes Management Act 8 of 2011 (“the STSM Act”) deals with the recourse available to the Body Corporate where an owner fails to maintain their section. It states that if, despite a written demand, the owner fails to carry out the work, then, subject to certain provisions, the Body Corporate can carry out the work and recover the reasonable cost of doing so from the owner. This however, only relates to the particular section and not the exclusive use area.

Extending a section

A Sectional Title Scheme is governed by procedural requirements that need to be followed by owners, trustees and the Body Corporate and making changes to, extending a section or improving an exclusive use area falls within specific requirements of the Act.

Extending a Section or an Exclusive Use Area

A unit or section is owned by a registered owner.  Trustee permission is required to make any improvement inside that section.  Should the owner wish to increase the footprint of a section, they will require a special resolution from all the scheme members. Should the required number of votes not be received, then the registered owner will not be allowed to extend their section. If a favourable vote is achieved, the owner will be responsible for the additional costs incurred ie: employing a land surveyor to measure the extension and amend the sectional title plans.

Improving an Exclusive Use Area

An exclusive use area is effectively common property but exclusive use thereof is assigned to a specific owner. Exclusive use areas are also specific ie: gardens, balconies, parking bays, carports etc. An owner who has the exclusive use of an area may not deviate from this by using it for any other purpose, and this may only be done with the permission from all the owners in the scheme.

An exclusive use area may however be improved ie: installing a deck, awning or screen. The area however may not be enclosed in such a way that it is water tight or where it becomes a liveable part of the section. The owner will only need permission from the Trustees and not from all the members for this improvement.

A unit or section is owned by a registered owner.  Trustee permission is required to make any improvement inside that section.  Should the owner wish to increase the footprint of a section, they will require a special resolution from all the scheme members. Should the required number of votes not be received, then the registered owner will not be allowed to extend their section. If a favourable vote is achieved, the owner will be responsible for the additional costs incurred ie: employing a land surveyor to measure the extension and amend the sectional title plans.

REF:

www.businesstech.co.za/news/wealth

www.stonewoodproperties.co.za