Hear me roar: The use of generators in Sectional Title Schemes

There is no sound that pierces a fellow South Africans heart quite like the mighty roar of their neighbour’s generator in the early hours of the morning. While residents in Sectional Title Schemes dream of a day that they too can use a generator to mitigate the detrimental effects of loadshedding, they are awakened to a reality that does not allow for this.

March 29, 2023

The use of generators in Sectional Titles Schemes is a heated debate that has become very topical, given the current strain that loadshedding places on all South Africans. Generators in sectional schemes can be beneficial to all residents but must be accompanied by strict rules and regulations.

The Legal Lowdown

Loadshedding has increased exponentially over the past few months, making the use of generators a norm for most South African households. Residents in Sectional Title Schemes are often left in the dark due to the interests of the scheme as a whole outweighing the interests of individual residents.

The Sectional Titles Schemes Management Act and the Sectional Titles Act provide us with some guidance regarding the possibility of generators within a scheme. The body corporate of a scheme is a legal entity, made up of the registered owners, that oversees the management and maintenance of common property within the scheme. The body corporate is also responsible for the adoption and implementation of new rules within a scheme. Each owner in the scheme becomes a member of the body corporate once they become an owner of the said unit, and has an undivided share in the common property.

It would be illogical for every owner of a unit to own an individual generator; this will cause nuisance to all residents in the relevant scheme. The Sectional Titles Schemes Management Act provides that an owner may not cause a nuisance to any other resident in the scheme. Generators are a noise nuisance, an aesthetically unpleasing fixture and could cause possible health risks due to the smoke emissions expelled.

A more practical solution is for the scheme to acquire a central generator that can be used to power all units when loadshedding is implemented. The addition of such can also be considered to be a necessary addition to the common property, benefiting all owners of the scheme.

When making decisions within the scheme, the body corporate has to determine whether an addition could be classified as reasonably necessary or not. The type of addition will provide the body corporate with a guiding principle, as to what resolution is required in order to action the addition:

  1. The body corporate may, on the authority of a unanimous resolution, make alterations or improvements to the common property that is not reasonably necessary.
  2. The body corporate may propose to make alterations or improvements to the common property that are reasonably necessary; provided that no such proposal may be implemented until all members are given at least 30 days written notice with details of-
  3. the estimated costs associated with the proposed alterations or improvements;
  4. details of how the body corporate intends to meet the costs, including details of any special contributions or loans by the body corporate that will be required for this purpose; and
  5. a motivation for the proposal including drawings of the proposed alterations or improvements showing their effect and a motivation of the need for them;and if, during this notice period, any member requests (in writing) a general meeting to discuss the proposal, the proposal must not be implemented unless it is approved, with or without amendment, by a special resolution adopted at a general meeting.’

Given the current strain that loadshedding is placing on the power grid of South Africa, it is fairly reasonable to classify a generator as a necessary addition to the scheme.

If a decision is made that a generator is to be purchased for use in a scheme, the cost of installing, maintaining, and refuelling the generator will fall within the ambit of the body corporate’s responsibilities. In an attempt to lessen the burden placed on the body corporate, a special levy can be imposed to assist with the initial costs of installing the generator.

The decision to install a generator is not an easy one. Body corporates should adopt strict rules and regulations in relation to central concerns such as the usage, maintenance and costs involved in acquiring a generator. There is a light at the end of the tunnel for residents of sectional schemes, and a generator might well become a permanent fixture in all sectional schemes in the future.

Written by Tayla Ruysschaert

Moderated and approved by Wessel de Kock

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