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Shoddy renovations & levy - my rights?

04 Apr 2014

 A Property24 reader asks:

A Property24 reader says the renovation work to their complex was shoddy, the contractor ran off and now a special levy. What to do?

I bought a unit last year and when I moved in we were told the complex was getting a facelift. The renovations were shoddy work and we complained. The contractor ended up not finishing the job and the body corporate took them to court, which is still ongoing. Then this year we were told that we need to pay a special levy on top of the normal levy.  

Another problem, I really don't see anything done with our levies except dustbin collection. My question is what if we pay that special levy and they don't do renovations or maybe the nominated contractor does the same thing and vanishes? Am I eligible to take the body corporate to court as they are demanding more money but the building is getting dilapidated? Nothing is being done, paint is peeling off, the swimming pool is filthy, broken gutters, etc.

Is there any legislation that protects the home buyer against this problem?

Please help as I have no idea of what to do.

Carryn Durham, specialist sectional titles lawyer at Paddocks, advises:

The body corporate is responsible for the maintenance and upkeep of the common property. The purpose of the levy contributions is to create an administrative fund to defray the costs of the maintenance and management of the common property of the scheme.

It appears from the facts stated that the completion of the renovations that the contractor did not finish will be necessary and is an expense that was not budgeted for in the last AGM. It is right that a special levy be raised to complete the renovations.

If the court awards the body corporate payment from the original contractor then that can go back into the administrative fund for future expenses or it can be repaid to the owners. It is important to note that the special levy cannot be used to pay a maintenance expense because maintenance must be included in the budget. Special levies are only for emergencies.

Administration of the scheme is the responsibility of the body corporate as a whole. The painting of the scheme and repair and upkeep of the common property must be done if it was budgeted for in the AGM. If you are not satisfied with the manner in which the trustees manage the day-to-day operations of the scheme then the best route would be to bring it up at the next AGM or call a special general meeting. I suggest you stand for nomination and election as a trustee so that you can tackle these issues directly.

Readers may submit questions to Property24’s Guest Expert panel and/or comment below. We may not be able to answer all questions received, but all will be considered. 

About the Author
Dr Carryn Durham

Dr Carryn Durham

Carryn Durham [B.A LL.B LL.M (Stellenbosch)] is a Specialist Sectional Titles Lawyer at Paddocks, a sectional title and homeowners' association (HOA) specialist firm - Carryn provides legal services to Paddocks consulting clients and is part of the Paddocks Club support team, an online support service for the sectional title and HOA community.

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