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Monday Feb 04, 2013

Maintenance responsibilities in sectional title properties

The question of who is responsible for the maintenance of the different areas in sectional title schemes is frequently misunderstood, says Wayne Albutt, national manager of Rawson Rentals.

He says there are three types of property in sectional title schemes - sections, common property and exclusive-use areas. Sections and exclusive-use are have to be maintained by the owners or the users, whereas common property has to be maintained by the body corporate.

In almost all sectional title schemes the section includes the unit and its garage, storeroom and other similar facilities, which would usually be indicated on the sectional title plan and in the title deed.

Common property is defined as all roofing and roof space below the top roofing but not the ceilings of the units, as well as gutters, downpipes and all below-ground and basement areas. Common property also includes all outdoor areas such as gardens and parking bays, driveways, perimeter walls, gates, security systems, street lights, communal swimming pools, clubhouses, guard houses, all communal passages and staircases, and associated plumbing and electric services.

Exclusive-use areas are not common property, and their use is reserved for specific owners.

Typically, exclusive- use areas include outside patios, balconies and enclosed gardens.

As there can often be misunderstandings over maintenance responsibilities, especially when a property is let to a tenant, Albutt recommends that sectional title owners planning maintenance or upgrades should check with their bodies corporate where their responsibilities begin and end.

He offers the following advice for owners planning work to improve sectional title properties, especially if this is to be supervised by estate agents:

  • Get a detailed written quote of the work to be done and ensure that this ties in with the final invoice. Extras should be condoned only if they have been agreed on in advance.

  • Agents supervising the work must get the landlord's signed approval for all sums to be spent.

  • At least two quotes should be called for, depending on the mandate with the property owner. This is particularly important for agents, as they should not be seen to favour any particular contractor.

  • Take photographs of work areas before and after the workmen begin and complete the work.

    Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition)


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