Upkeep and repairs in sectional title schemes

You just took transfer and became the proud owner of a unit in a sectional title scheme. After the first summer rains you notice, with dismay, that there are damp stains on the outer walls of your unit. You inform the body corporate, who, by way of their trustees, indicate that the said damp must be fixed by you as the owner of the unit.

March 3, 2019

Sectional title schemes are divided into Units and Common Property. The Sectional Titles Act 95/1986 (the Act) defines a unit as “a section together with its undivided share in common property apportioned to that section in accordance with the quota of the section”. The Act also defines Common Property as “land included in the scheme and such part of a building or buildings as are not included in a section”. All owners of units are there for “participants” in the common property of a sectional title scheme. Monthly levies, and in some cases special levies (for example when the buildings in the scheme needs painting) are paid i.a. in contribution to the upkeep and repair of such common property to be managed by the appointed trustees, acting on behalf and in the interest of, the body corporate (owners of units). The upkeep and repair of a section will only rest with the individual owners of such sections as this does not fall within the definition of common property.

According to section 5(4) of the Act the measurement or the “common boundary between any section…. and common property shall be the median line of the dividing wall”. The measurement (and per definition ownership) of a section will therefor only be only be in respect of the inside walls of the unit measured to the half of the unit wall. The “outside half” of unit walls as indicated on the sectional title diagram will form part of the Common Property. It can therefore be argued that, ownership and the responsibility to manage, maintain, upgrade and repair any damage to the common property (“outside walls” in this case) rests with the body corporate.

Written by Wessel de Kock

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