- Many sectional title owners are aware of their responsibilities but not their rights.
- Sectional title owners have the right to well-maintained communal areas, and to claim on levies they were forced to but not required to pay.
- Sectional title owners can submit their complaint in writing to the body corporate, and resort to arbitration if the issue isn’t resolved.
Sectional title units are becoming more popular in South Africa as people look for better security and a sense of community.
Demand has also been boosted in the post-lockdown period as many people are working from home and want easy access to safe outdoor spaces.
If you’ve purchased a unit in a sectional title estate, you have a responsibility to maintain your property and ensure it’s in good condition.
That said, many sectional title owners are aware of their responsibilities but not their rights.
The rights of owners in a sectional title
- You have a right to well-maintained communal areas.
- You have a right to claim on levies you were forced to but are not required to pay.
- You have a right to access records kept by the body corporate.
well-maintained communal areas
- The body corporate is obligated to use levies paid by owners of sectional title units to maintain the common areas, including roads and lawns as well as recreational facilities such as swimming pools and clubhouses.
- Failure to fulfil such responsibilities adequately entitles a property owner to claim damages, or file an application with the ombud (an official who investigates complaints against businesses, public entities or officials) against the body corporate.
Claiming on unlawful charges
If the owner of a sectional title unit believes that the body corporate owes him for expenses he was forced to pay that were actually the responsibility of the body corporate, the owner can declare a claim and have it resolved through an adjudication process.
The right to access records
- Body corporates are required by the Sectional Titles Schemes Management Act to maintain records of meetings, budgets, financial statements, legal processes and contracts.
- Members of the body corporate are entitled to make a written request for access to such records and do not have to provide a reason.
- The body corporate is obliged to make such records available for inspection within 10 days.
- The body corporate is entitled to charge a fee for access to such records, provided the fee is reasonable in terms of the cost of making a copy of such a document.
Raising disputes with the body corporate
- If you feel the body corporate has acted outside its power or failed to fulfil its responsibilities, your first port of call should be to submit your dispute in writing within 14 days of the problem arising. It may be possible to resolve the issue over the course of several meetings between the trustees.
- Failure to resolve the issue may require resorting to arbitration. The arbitrator can order that one party pay a required amount, and refer the matter to the High Court.
It’s important to be aware of your rights as a sectional title holder, though, of course, you should bear in mind that the body corporate is made up primarily of people you’ll be living in close proximity to, so it’s best to resolve such disputes peacefully if you can.
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