A situation that frequently causes problems in sectional title schemes concerns the right to exclusive use of common areas in the property and the rental charged for that use.

Unit owners often believe they have the right to use a particular area but don’t see why they should be required to pay extra for the privilege.


Michael Bauer, general manager of sectional title property management firm IHFM, says it makes sense to charge for the exclusive use of common areas, as these are reserved only for use by a unit owner and need to be maintained in some way. A unit owner who also owned the extra portion would be paying a higher levy because their participation quota (PQ) factor would be higher.

Every section in a sectional title scheme has a PQ allocated to it. These are used for calculating each owner's monthly levy and their share of any special levy that is imposed.

The Sectional Titles Act clearly states that the owners of exclusive use areas are responsible for maintaining and repairing these areas. For example, the costs of upkeep in a garden, like replanting plants, composting and weed removal, would need to be paid for. In parking areas, the road surface may need rebuilding, or if a balcony is leaking and needs to be repaired, the maintenance costs need to be carried by the owner who has exclusive use of the area.

The act says an additional levy for exclusive use areas must be charged. However, in sectional title schemes, the ordinary and special levies are usually based on a participation quota and should already be covering all the scheme's running costs.

“There will be an over-recovery of money from the collection of additional levies from the owners,” says Bauer. “This surplus money collected for the exclusive use areas should then be allocated to reducing the scheme’s levies by a certain amount.”





Problems often arise when repairs are needed and are not being attended to timeously. For example, a leaky enclosed balcony can present problems as the body corporate can instruct the owner to pay for the repair or maintenance of the exclusive use area.

If the owner does not comply, the body corporate can serve the owner with a demand to effect the repairs within 30 days. If he still doesn't act, they can then arrange for the repairs to be carried out at the owner’s expense, in accordance with Prescribed Management Rule 70.

Another problem could be a lack of access to the exclusive use area. For instance, if a balcony needs to be repaired, the owner will have to provide access through the apartment for contractors and the managing agent.

Bauer says it is recommended that the additional levy for the exclusive use in a scheme of an area be standardised.

“Trustees must budget correctly and only raise levies according to the actual expenses of the scheme. If there is an over-recovery, the regular monthly levies should be reduced by the proportionate amount,” he says.

Michael Bauer is a regular contributor to www.sectionaltitlesa.co.za.

Courtesy of Sarah-Jane Meyer of Private Property



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