Sectional title common property explained
In South Africa, sectional title living has grown in popularity over the past few decades. This is likely due to the added security, fixed monthly costs, affordability and communal living benefits that come with this type of property ownership.
While there are many facets that come with owning a sectional title property, one of the most commonly discussed is the use of common property.
To better understand sectional title common property, we’re going to dive into the types of common property, what goes into sectional title management and a bit about the legislation around sectional title schemes.
What is a sectional title property?
A sectional title scheme is defined as: The separate ownership of a unit within a group-owned development or complex.
Sectional titles also include an undivided share of common property, such as the use of common amenities, if applicable. This type of property ownership differs from freehold or full-title ownership, which gives the buyer full ownership rights of the property – including the land that it is built on.
The types of houses that fall under sectional title ownership include semi-detached houses, townhouses, apartments or duet houses.
It’s important to note that when buying a sectional title, the buyer will automatically become part of the body corporate for their property. This is a legal entity which owns and controls the common property within a sectional title scheme.
It is the duty of the body corporate to create rules which are applicable to all sectional title owners. Owners can also expect to pay a monthly levy, which is typically calculated according to the size of your unit.
Some of the aspects of abiding by a body corporate that you can expect include management rules, which relate to the body corporate responsibilities and explain ways that the body corporate will manage the scheme.
Owners can also expect to abide by conduct rules, which have been put in place to regulate the behaviour and activities of owners and tenants who live within the property scheme. This is to ensure fairness across the board.
Sectional title common property
According to the law, all owners of sectional titles are allowed to make use of the common property on the premises, however, they must do so fairly.
A few examples of common property include: Stairways/elevators, passages, security systems, driveways and parking bays, gardens, pools, braai facilities, clubhouses, the land foundation and the external walls and roofs of buildings which house different sections.
This is not an exclusive list, and there is some variation between different schemes. In order to clearly define which parts of the scheme are common property or not, the registered sectional plan should precisely recognise and show the boundaries of the common property and each section in the sectional title scheme. It is also the duty of the body corporate to maintain the common property while owners are responsible for their specific unit or section.
Ownership and maintenance of sectional titles common property
You can find more detailed information about the ownership and maintenance of sectional titles in the Sectional Titles Schemes Management act. In Section 4c of the sectional titles schemes management act, it is stated that the body corporate may choose to purchase or hire movable property for the use of owners, either for their enjoyment or protection or relating to the use of the common property.
These are assets which can be incorporated into the common property and are also the responsibility of the body corporate to maintain.
A few examples of these assets include:A generator, pool furniture to use with a common property swimming pool, gardening equipment, gym equipment and a pump and storage cylinder for a borehole, to name a few.
The body corporate will also need to provide utility infrastructure for the use of the utility services, such as water, gas or electricity, telephone or internet access, sewage, drainage and garbage disposal, as some examples. The body corporate is obliged to provide things such as pipes, wires, cables, ducts, different meters for units for water, gas and electricity and fixtures, fittings or machinery to be used for common property purposes.
While this utility infrastructure remains the responsibility of the body corporate to maintain, it is not considered common property in the eyes of law. Instead, this is considered to be infrastructure that is used in conjunction with common property.
The most important thing to note about common property is that no sectional title owner can exclusively own common property in any way. All of the owners of the sections in the scheme will jointly own all the common property, and this ownership is in undivided shares.
Legislation around sectional titles
We know that sifting through legal paperwork can be boring, so we’re going to break down the basics:
- The new Sectional Titles Scheme Management Act (STSMA) was originally signed into law in 2011 and went into effect as of October 2016. The purpose of the STSMA is to allow for the establishment of body corporate’s to effectively manage and regulate sections and common property within sectional title schemes. It also allows for body corporate’s to apply rules to schemes and introduce a sectional title schemes management advisory council, should they choose to do so.
- Another result of the Sectional Title Schemes Management Act means that trustees of the sectional title scheme will need to reassess owners’ levy contributions every month. At the same time as the Sectional Title Schemes Management Act was implemented, so too was the Community Schemes Ombud Services Act. This is also known as the CSOS Act.
- The main purpose of the CSOS Act is to establish an efficient, cost-effective and independent dispute resolution service for community schemes.
Sectional title management software
Sectional title management agents have a lot to deal with when it comes to managing common property. Between managing garden services to pool maintenance, security and keeping up with exterior house improvements like painting or fence repairs.
Our sectional title management software has been built to make this process a breeze. Gone are the days of endless paperwork and back-and-forth! This is because we’ve got an easy software solution for property managers. By using the Unity property management software, you can save a lot of time and energy while still providing great sectional title management to your clients at the same time.
Contact us today to chat about how our software can make your life easier.