Extensions in sectional title schemes

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08 Jul 2013

The cost of having the amended sectional plans drawn up and obtaining all the approvals and registration will all be for your account and should be included in the budget for any extensions.

You’ve installed a new deck, but suddenly you are faced with complaints from other owners in your complex and legal threats from the trustees of the body corporate.

David Schaefer, regional manager of Trafalgar KwaZulu-Natal, says the problem often arises from a misconception that permission from the chairman or a trustee of the body corporate is sufficient to authorise an addition or alteration to a sectional title unit. 

He says this is not the case and unless you follow the correct procedure you could be forced to remove the structure and make good, at your own expense.

Building a deck, for instance, is considered an extension of your section. In order for this to be done, an owner should ideally approach their managing agent, usually via the trustees, to determine the correct procedure to be followed before commencing the project.

If the deck is to be built on an existing exclusive use area, then the approval of the trustees is required. All decisions from trustees must be passed by way of a majority vote at a trustee meeting or by way of a unanimous round-robin resolution. 

Approaching the chairman or an individual trustee directly and trying to get permission for something is making a mistake. A certificate from a land surveyor or architect will be required, stating that there is not a deviation of more than 10 percent in the participation quota (PQ) of the relevant section as a result of this extension.

According to Schaefer, if the new deck increases your floor area by more than 10 percent, you will need the approval of owners in the form of a special resolution. It also involves municipal plan approval, amended sectional title plans, and a certificate of consent from a conveyancer.

The general rule concerning any interference with common property (alteration, additions and so forth) is that an owner may not deal with common property at all, as an individual. The reason behind this is simply due to the fact that the common property is owned by all members in undivided equal shares, he says.

To erect a deck on common property, a special resolution of owners/members is required in order to proceed. Plans must be passed and the sectional plans amended and registered with the new PQ’s as well.  

The cost of having the amended sectional plans drawn up and obtaining all the approvals and registration will all be for your account and should be included in the budget for the deck. Approaching your managing agent before embarking on a project of this nature can save everybody a lot of time, energy and heartache, and ensure the financial investment in your section is money well spent.  

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