A reader has approached our panel of experts with several questions about sectional title developments.
The property the reader’s queries relate to has six individual homes sharing a common boundary wall and driveway. Although the municipality refuses to open an account in the development’s name, the developer has left the owners with sectional title rules and he wants to know which of them are applicable in this scenario.
His questions include how this development can be registered in its own name rather than that of the individual residents and whether in this case there are rules applicable to common areas, for example: usage by residents and pets and what say neighbours have about alterations, additions, pets and so forth.
The reader asks if monthly meetings are relevant and whether the majority’s decision should be accepted. He also wants to know how the rules will stand up in court.
The other questions are how the development is classified (complex, freehold, etc) and how residents can get information about the registration of their homes.
According to Property Poser’s legal experts, when registering a sectional plan for one or more pieces of land, a sectional scheme comes into operation.
From a Deeds Office perspective, this land is removed from the land register and all further dealings with the property must be in terms of the Sectional Titles Act. If the scheme referred to is a sectional title scheme, each homeowner has to pay a levy in respect of his or her unit.
The levy is based on the size of the units. This is called the participation quota and determines an owner’s share of rates and taxes, water and rubble removal, insurance on the construction of the unit, maintenance and so forth.
There is obviously great confusion with regard to all the above in respect of the aforesaid scheme. The municipality account issue should be sorted out between the municipality, the developer and the attorney who attended to the transfer.
If this complex is indeed a sectional title scheme, managing agents should be appointed to attend to all the problems.
With regard to the rules applicable, all schemes are governed by management and conduct rules in terms of Section 35 of the Sectional Titles Act.
Provided the formalities of the Act are followed, the rules can be abolished, amended or substituted by the Body Corporate or the developer. The Body Corporate consists of all the owners of the scheme.
However, there are certain management rules the developer may not change of his own accord when registering the scheme. These rules can only be amended, added or deleted by a unanimous resolution of members of the Body Corporate.
Conduct rules can only be changed, added or removed through a special resolution of the Body Corporate and when a person buys into a sectional title scheme he or she has to comply with these rules. For example, the rules may stipulate that no pets are allowed.
In a sectional scheme, all the units look alike and therefore you cannot do alterations as you please. If you want to extend your property or unit you also have to get permission from the Body Corporate as this will affect you participation quota and the levies you pay.
As far as meetings are concerned, the Body Corporate can call for one whenever necessary, but must give all owners a month’s notice. These will be in addition to an annual general meeting (AGM).
The correct name for such a development is a sectional title scheme. The conveyancer who handled the transfer of the property should be able to inform the buyer whether he or she owns a sectional title unit or not.