Think­ing of mak­ing al­ter­ations to your unit? Make sure you com­ply

Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition) - - PROPERTY - JEN­NIFER PAD­DOCK

OWN­ERS of units in sec­tional ti­tle schemes are sub­ject to more re­stric­tions than own­ers of free­hold prop­erty.

When you want to make al­ter­ations to your sec­tion, you may well need body cor­po­rate ap­proval as well as lo­cal au­thor­ity con­sent be­fore you can start. Free­hold prop­erty own­ers are not sub­ject to the ad­di­tional level of gov­er­nance ex­er­cised by sec­tional ti­tle bodies cor­po­rate. Sec­tional own­ers there­fore need to be aware of the cor­rect pro­ce­dures, to en­sure they com­ply wi t h t h e a p p l i c a b l e l e g i s l a t i ve re­quire­ments be­fore mak­ing al­ter­ations to their sec­tions.

Sec­tion 24 of the Sec­tional Ti­tles Act 95 of 1986 deals with ex­ten­sions of sec­tions, and states that any al­ter­ation to your sec­tion that in­creases its bound­aries or floor area is con­sid­ered an ex­ten­sion of the sec­tion.

In terms of sec­tion 5(4) of the act, a sec­tion is owned to the me­dian line or mid­point of its di­vid­ing floors, walls and ceil­ings. The scheme’s sec­tional plan filed at the deeds reg­istry in­di­cates the bound­aries of each sec­tion, shown as solid lines.

If your sec­tion is on the ground floor and you de­cide to push out your bed­room into the gar­den area, you are al­most cer­tainly go­ing to be ex­tend­ing the bound­aries and floor area of your sec­tion and will be hit by the pro­vi­sions of sec­tion 24 of the act.

It is pos­si­ble to ex­tend your sec­tion without ac­tu­ally ex­tend­ing the bound­aries of your sec­tion. For ex­am­ple, if your sec­tion has a dou­ble-vol­ume ceil­ing and you de­cide to build a mez­za­nine loft area within the sec­tion, you will be ex­tend­ing the floor area and sec­tion 24 of the act will ap­ply. Even if you just use the loft area for stor­age space, you will have ef­fec­tively ex­tended the floor area of your sec­tion.

What au­tho­ri­sa­tion do you need to get be­fore you can legally ex­tend your sec­tion? Sec­tion 24(3) of the act stip­u­lates that own­ers must first ob­tain a spe­cial res­o­lu­tion of the body cor­po­rate au­tho­ris­ing the pro­posed ex­ten­sions be­fore they are al­lowed to ef­fect the al­ter­ations. This would in­volve putting a pro­posal to own­ers, nor­mally via the trustees, and per­haps ask­ing them for a gen­eral meet­ing where the pro­posal can be con­sid­ered and voted on. Al­ter­na­tively, you could send or take your pro­posed res­o­lu­tion to each owner in­di­vid­u­ally and get writ­ten con­sents.

A spe­cial res­o­lu­tion can be passed at a gen­eral meet­ing of the body cor­po­rate, or by the nec­es­sary ma­jor­ity of own­ers agree­ing in writ­ing in what is known as a “round robin” pro­ce­dure.

A spe­cial res­o­lu­tion at a meet­ing re­quires that a no­tice of the meet­ing, spec­i­fy­ing the pro­posed res­o­lu­tion, must be sent to all per­sons en­ti­tled to at­tend gen­eral meet­ings, and at least 30 days’ no­tice must be given un­less the trustees have de­cided that shorter no­tice is ap­pro­pri­ate. At the meet­ing a quo­rum of per­sons en­ti­tled to vote must be present or rep­re­sented; and of those present or rep­re­sented and en­ti­tled to vote, 75 per­cent in num­ber (by show of hands) and in value (75 per­cent of the par­tic­i­pa­tion quo­tas present or rep­re­sented at the meet­ing) must vote in favour of the res­o­lu­tion.

A spe­cial res­o­lu­tion by round robin pro­ce­dure re­quires that 75 per­cent in num­ber and value of all own­ers must agree to the res­o­lu­tion in writ­ing.

The spe­cial res­o­lu­tion might be ap­proved only if it con­tains con­di­tions that ap­ply to your build­ing op­er­a­tions, such as an obli­ga­tion to pay a de­posit to cover the body cor­po­rate against any dam­ages it may suf­fer in the process. It may also ap­prove the ex­ten­sion on the con­di­tion that you pay the body cor­po­rate a cap­i­tal amount as com­pen­sa­tion to other own­ers for the loss of the use of the com­mon prop­erty that your ex­ten­sion will cover. The trustees should not sign any build­ing plans for sub­mis­sion to the lo­cal au­thor­ity un­til the re­quired spe­cial res­o­lu­tion is ob­tained.

Your next step is to get the build­ings com­pleted to the point they can be mea­sured. Dur­ing this process you will need to li­aise with the lo­cal au­thor­i­ties and en­sure that all their re­quire­ments are met. You will need to in­struct a land sur­veyor or ar­chi­tect to draw up a draft sec­tional plan of ex­ten­sion and sub­mit this to the sur­veyor-gen­eral for ap­proval. Once the sur­veyor-gen­eral has ap­proved this plan, ap­pli­ca­tion must be made to the reg­is­trar of deeds to reg­is­ter the plan.

To find out about sec­tional ti­tle cour­ses, call Kate on 021 674 7818 or e-mail kate@pad­

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