Property lawyers are often asked whose responsibility the repairs and replacements in a sectional title is.
When windows and doors require repairs, is the section owner financially responsible for it, or does the responsibility fall on the body corporate?
The first thing that you need to understand is that the boundaries of each section have been defined by a sectional plan.
A common boundary between two sections, is the median line which divides the wall, floor, or ceiling.
This means that the boundaries of a section can be defined by the floors, walls and ceiling thereof.
Windows and doors in the exterior walls of sections are part of the section and part of the common property.
This ensures that the owner and the body corporate share maintenance and repair costs equally.
Section 31(1)(j) of the Sectional Titles Act indicates that the body corporate is responsible for maintaining all the common property.
This includes the exterior of walls, doors or windows that form a boundary between a section and the common property.
Section 44(1)(c) states that the owner must repair and maintain the interior part of their property.
If the windows are damaged beyond repair - due to age or design - the replacement will be seen as maintenance or an improvement.
There are specific processes that must be followed when authorising the replacement of the windows.
These processes are set out according to the Prescribed Management Rules (PMR) 33(2).
If trustees make non-luxurious improvements to the common property, they must provide all the owners with a written notice.
The notice provides the date that improvements are intended to commence, as well as details of the proposed improvements.
The details include the costs associated with the improvements, how the improvements will be financed, and if the improvements will effect the levies.
Once an owner receives the written notice, he or she can request that the trustees convene a special general meeting to deliberate upon the proposal.
If a meeting is requested, the trustees cannot proceed with their proposals until the meeting has been held.
Trustees are bound by the terms of any special resolution taken at that meeting.
At this meeting, owners will approve the trustees’ proposal, with or without amendments.
If the trustees’ proposal is not approved by the owners during the meeting, they may not proceed with the improvements.
However, if no owner requests a meeting within the notice period, the trustees may proceed with the improvements.
In order to fund this project, the body corporate can use reserved funds, raise a special levy, or include the expenses in the next budget presented for approval at the Annual General Meeting (AGM).
Should you have any queries related to window and door repairs, replacements and maintenance, contact the legal professionals at Van Deventer & Van Deventer Incorporated.
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