Owner responsibilities

By Bennie van Dyk – Senior Operations Manager: Community Schemes Management

For most people, sectional title schemes are the entry point of owning your own home. Most first-time buyers are not always aware of all the obligations associated with owning a section in a sectional title scheme. This article will provide you with the most basic obligations an owner of such a unit has towards the body corporate.

Owners need to understand that for a body corporate to function, it requires cash flow. Trustees compile a budget annually that is approved by the owners at the Annual General Meeting of the body corporate. This budget determines the levies payable monthly by each owner. To ensure that the body corporate can meet its monthly obligations, these levies are payable monthly in advance. That enables the trustees to determine what the body corporate can afford during a specific month once all payments are received.

It is of utmost importance that owners notify the body corporate if they cannot meet their monthly obligations. This also protects owners from incurring unnecessary additional costs, such as debt collection charges and legal fees. Owners should also note that it is illegal to withhold levy payments because of a disagreement. There are legal ways to address disputes or misunderstandings and one should never take matters into your own hands.

As an owner, you are responsible for maintaining the inside of your section. It is also your responsibility to keep any exclusive use area assigned to you in a neat and clean condition.

Owners should always consult with the trustees if they plan improvements to the inside of their sections. This should also be communicated to the insurer of the scheme to ensure sufficient insurance coverage. Improvements such as air-conditioning units and gas installations also require the approval of the body corporate. Parts of these installations would be done on the outside of your section which are common property

Once a year, the body corporate must hold an Annual General Meeting. Owners are then afforded the opportunity to air their views on the management of the scheme regarding financial matters. This is also where they elect trustees to manage the affairs of the body corporate on their behalf. Therefore, it is of utmost importance that owners attend these meetings.

However, one does not have to wait for the annual general meetings to be actively involved in the management of the scheme. As an owner, make sure you know who the trustees are and regularly communicate with them on issues of concern. Offer your expertise to them in order to lighten their burden. Remember, they also have full-time jobs whilst serving everyone’s interests without being compensated.

Lastly, owners should also ensure that residents, visitors and/or service providers visiting their section always comply with the rules and regulations of the scheme. Ultimately, you as the owner, remain liable for their actions or misconduct.

For any further details on owner obligations, please contact your managing agent who will guide you further in this regard.

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