When it comes to water damage and damp problems in sectional title schemes, there is often a lack of clarity around who exactly is responsible for the damage caused and who gets to fix it.
However, the solution is relatively simple. Water leaks, water damage and damp problems most often come from the foundation of the building, the roof or inside one of the outer walls of the building.
These areas are considered common property in sectional title schemes. Therefore, it’s the responsibility of the body corporate to undertake any repair or maintenance needed in order to stop a water leak.
This is in accordance with section 37 of the Sectional Titles Act.
Therefore, the owners of top-floor apartments are equally liable for repair of foundations and the ground-floor owners are equally liable for roof repairs.
Should it be necessary for special levies to be raised in order to pay for the repairs, this must be done according to the stipulations found in section 32 of the Sectional Titles Act.
The repair of any water damage to the interior which is caused by a leak coming from common property must be paid for by the body corporate.
If the initial damage was caused by a severe storm, the body corporate may claim from insurance to cover the costs of the repair.
However, should the leak come from a circumstance which could have been controlled, such as an overflowing basin or bath, the owner of that section will be responsible to cover the costs of the repair.
Furthermore, in cases where the leak is coming from, for example, a pipe which serves more than one section of the building, the body corporate may be held responsible for the cost of repairs.
If the leaking pipe is a hot water pipe, the owner of the section being served by the hot water will be responsible for the repair of the pipe as well as damage which may have been caused by the leak.
It’s extremely important that the body corporate responds quickly in order to repair and maintain all common property in order to prevent more serious damage in the long run.
Delaying repairs will result in more costly repairs. Furthermore, should there be evidence that the damage is due to lack of general maintenance, insurance will reject the claim and body corporate would have to pay for the repair.
It is mandatory practice for body corporate to see to regular repair and maintenance of common property in sectional title schemes.
Should the body corporate’s reserve fund be too low to cover the costs, special funds will need to be raised as soon as possible in order to see to the necessary repairs.
We specialise in property law and can provide expert legal advice regarding water damage in sectional title schemes, including who is responsible for the repair thereof. Feel free to arrange a legal consultation.
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