6 STEPS FOR IMPROVEMENTS TO EXCLUSIVE USE AREAS AND SECTIONS IN BODIES CORPORATE – November 2020

1. Get Approval

Where approval is sought for an improvement that will not increase the floor space of the section, as defined in section 24 of the Sectional Titles Act (STA) 95 of 1986, and as specified in Prescribed Management Rule (PMR) 30(g)), nor alter the registered usage or purpose of an exclusive use area, as per STA 27 (1)(a) and sections (7) of the Sectional Titles Schemes Management Act (STSMA) 8 of 2011 and PMR 30(f), the trustees will require:

a) a sketch plan that indicates clearly the proposed improvements to be carried out;

b) full specifications of materials to be used. All materials must comply strictly with existing scheme specifications; and

c) owners to ensure compliance with the STA, STSMA and its Prescribed Rules, particularly, but not limited to, STSMA 13 and PMR 30, which includes the provision that improvements/alterations must not affect the stability of the building. Should the improvement influence a load-bearing wall the trustees may request a structural engineer’s certificate be supplied.

2. Comply with all relevant laws

Owners must ensure that they comply with all relevant laws, by-laws, ordinances, proclamations, and statutory regulations. All municipal requirements must have been met and, where applicable, plans submitted to the local authority for approval; a copy of the approved plan must be supplied to the trustees or the managing agent. Further, a works agreement must be signed with the contractor appointed to undertake the works and a copy provided to the trustees.

3. For major changes, obtain written consent from all the owners

Where the proposed change to the exterior appearance of the section or exclusive use area is minor and will not detract from the appearance of the section or the common property the trustees’ written consent must be obtained as per PCR 5(1). Where, in the opinion of the trustees or if so directed by the owners in a general meeting as per STSMA 7(1), the proposed change to the exterior of the section or exclusive use area is not considered minor and may detract from the appearance of the section or the common property, the trustees will give an “in principle” decision; however, the owner will be required to obtain all the owners’ written consent before proceeding with the work.  In terms of PMR 30(e) a member or any occupier of a section, may not do anything to a section or exclusive use area that has a material negative effect on the value or utility of any other section or exclusive use area.  All costs related to obtaining the required owners’ consent, which must be approved by the trustees prior to circulation to the owners to ensure compliance with the conditions set for the improvement, will be for the account of the owner concerned. The trustees will require proof of this consent for filing in their records and, where necessary, lodge for approval with the Ombud as an amendment to the rules. 

4. Ensure that any additional insurance required is in place

The owner will be responsible for ensuring that any additional insurance required is put in place; this may be done through a body corporate policy, with the additional premium incurred for the owner’s account.  It is specifically noted that the body corporate policy covers only the section as indicated on the Sectional Plan (based on standard finishes) and therefore excludes any improvements to exclusive use areas or improvements in finishes to the sections.

5. Ensure compliance with the STA, STSMA and its Prescribed Rules

Where exclusive use is granted for an area of the common property and the owner makes application to carry out an improvement to this area, the Trustees are obliged to ensure that conditions have been imposed to ensure compliance with the STA, STSMA and its Prescribed Rules. Any conditions will need to be specifically noted and accepted and, where relevant, form part of the resolution and amendment to the rules.

6. Accept responsibility for the improvements

The onus shall be on the owner of the unit, who hereby undertakes to accept responsibility for the improvements, to ensure that any future purchaser in perpetuity shall be fully informed of the provisions regarding said improvement.