The issue of maintenance and repairs in sectional title schemes is not straightforward and can often result in heated debate between owners of sections and the body corporate, raising questions such as:
Who should repair/clean the roof?
Who must maintain the gardens, roads, gate and paths?
Who is responsible for the maintenance of my section?
This issue is made more complex by the fact that sectional schemes generally consist of three categories of sectional property: sections, common property and exclusive use areas. Each of these categories carry differing obligations and responsibilities relating to their maintenance and repair.
What are the different categories of sectional title properties?
A section means a section as indicated on the sectional plan. The boundaries of a section are the centre line of the floor, walls and ceiling of that section, and can include any defined balcony or projection.
Common property is any area in the scheme which is not part of a section. Common property often includes external walls of sections, corridors, roads, open spaces, or areas used for facilities or amenities.
An exclusive use area is a part of the common property which has been reserved for the exclusive use of one of the owners of a section. These often include parking bays, gardens and storage facilities.
Maintenance of sections
Owners are required to keep their section in a “state of good repair”. This means that an owner is responsible for the maintenance and repair of the area within the boundaries of their section. An owner will therefore, be responsible for internal repairs and maintenance, painting, plumbing within the section, plastering, cleaning etc. However, owners are not responsible for the maintenance of the exterior of their unit as this will form part of another section or the common property.
Maintenance of the common property
The Sectional Titles Act provides that maintenance and repairs to the common property are the sole responsibility of the body corporate, both operationally and financially. This means that the body corporate is responsible for maintenance and repair of common garden areas, roads, pathways, facilities, roofs, and any other area of sectional property which is not considered a section. The body corporate must collect sufficient levies to ensure that it is able to maintain and make repairs to the common property.
Maintenance of exclusive use areas
Exclusive use areas are part of the common property and must be maintained by the body corporate, however, an owner of exclusive use areas must ensure that their exclusive use area is kept in a clean and neat condition. This would indicate that there is a shared responsibility to maintain exclusive use areas. The Sectional Titles Act further requires the body corporate to recover all amounts which it has spent on maintenance and repair of exclusive use areas. Therefore, the body corporate is operationally responsible for maintenance and repairs to exclusive use areas while the owner of an exclusive use area must bear the financial cost of such maintenance and repair.
One example of a common dispute over sectional repairs is where a pipe traversing the common property bursts in an exclusive use area. In this instance the body corporate may say that because the pipe is situated within the owner’s exclusive use area he/she is responsible for repair. However, provided the owner of the exclusive use area did not cause the damage, the owner will not be responsible for repair and maintenance to any pipes which traverse the common property.
For more information on this topic or any other property related queries please contact us at 033 392 8016.
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