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Tuesday Aug 20, 2013

Common property in older buildings often mistakenly listed on plans

In 1977, when the first Sectional Titles Act came about, many buildings were converted into sectional title units but exclusive use areas weren't properly defined.

When the newer Act, in 1986, was drawn up, the old Act was converted but this aspect of managing exclusive use areas had still not been cleared up.

This has, many years later, created problematic situations where some selling a sectional title unit have been confused about what they own or can sell, said Michael Bauer, general manager of IHFM, the property management company.

There are many older apartment buildings in Sea Point, for example, where the parking bays have been passed from owner to owner, without knowing who owns the bays. What could have been a rented parking bay is sometimes mistaken for one owned outright and then 'sold' with the unit.

In one particular case, for instance, where a building had been converted, the sectional title register was registered in 1980, so it fell under the old Act, and when the conversion came into use the sectional plans were not entirely clear. There was a garage that had been shown as common property whereas now it was an exclusive use area, said Bauer. It took a lengthy investigation to work out who owned it and what had happened, and then had to be changed to an exclusive use area.

'The issue here, more importantly, is the fact that it was sold a few times, as part of a section where it shouldn't have been,' said Bauer.

Over many decades mistakes can be made, he said. Door numbers and section numbers are sometimes mixed up, and where mistakes creep in is where perhaps one owner had more than one garage and sold off one but this was never transferred.

There have also been instances where extensions to units and section plans don't tie up. This can have huge implications if there is a problem with the illegal extension that causes damage to the surrounding units. The problem of responsibility for repairing the subsequent damage comes in, because it is no longer just the owner's unit but many others involved and the body corporate's insurance is not likely to cover any of it.

The conduct rules and sectional plans must always correspond with what is in that scheme and it is up to the trustees to ensure that if changes have been made, these are all done according to the Act, said Bauer.

IHFM Press Release


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