By Bennie van Dyk – Senior Operations Manager: Community Schemes Management
Over the years, there have been many instances where owners of sectional title units have taken steps to extend their sections in various ways. These extensions have included adding an extra room, converting a garage into a living space, or enclosing a patio, among other examples. In many cases, these owners have followed the requirements outlined in the sectional title legislation and have duly applied for permission from the trustees for these extensions.
However, it is important to note that not all of these extensions are in compliance with the legislation, as the entire process of extending the section has not always been properly completed. Failing to adhere to all the provisions can be a costly and litigious mistake, an outcome that should undoubtedly be avoided. To prevent such mistakes and ensure full compliance with the law, the following step-by-step guide outlines the necessary process:
- A written application that includes all the details of the extension, including sketches, must be submitted to the trustees for approval. Such applications are to be directed to the managing agent, who will inform the owner of the process. The trustees will consider the application and provide in principle approval that the owner may proceed with the process.
- Any extension of a unit’s floor area requires a special resolution of the members of the body corporate. Once an in principle approval has been obtained from the trustees, the owner needs to call a Special General Meeting to obtain the required special resolution to extend his section. The managing agent will assist with this process, but the cost of holding such a meeting will be for the owner’s account. The owner should supply all relevant information to enable the members to make the resolution.
- Once a special resolution has been obtained, the next step would be to amend the site plan of the scheme. This must be approved by the local municipal authorities.
- The following step would be to amend the as-built plans of the unit. This must also be approved by the local authorities, and it must be accompanied by a special resolution of the body corporate as well as the in principle agreement of the trustees.
- Once built, it will need to be ensured that the necessary Certificate of Occupancy is obtained from the local authorities. A copy must be forwarded to the body corporate to ensure that the insurance policy is adjusted accordingly and that the extension is appropriately covered.
- The next step will be to appoint a land surveyor to update the registered sectional title plans. This step is normally ignored by the owner, which leads to the scheme not being compliant and the participation quotas not being updated accordingly. This most often results in owners being charged incorrect levies, as a levy calculation is directly influenced by participation quota. These mistakes are then picked up by financial institutions assessing the scheme during applications for a bond, resulting in loans not being granted due to the scheme not being compliant in terms of the registered sectional title plans.
- Once the sectional title plans have been updated with the Land Surveyor General’s offices, the last step is to appoint an attorney to see to the endorsement of all the title deeds of the scheme with the amended participation quotas.
Once steps 1 to 7 have been completed, the owner needs to supply the body corporate with the copies of the updated registered sectional title plans, the approved revised site plan, and as-built plans together with proof that the title deeds were endorsed. A copy of the occupancy certificate should also be forwarded.
As one can clearly see, compliance with all the provisions for extensions of sectional title units is a lengthy and costly process that involves a lot of professions. If you are unsure if your scheme is compliant at present, please contact your portfolio manager, who will gladly assist you in taking the correct steps to determine the degree of your scheme’s compliance.