Is your sectional title Body Corporate, friend or foe?
Very rarely does one find a person ambivalent on this question. Mostly people are biased one way or the other. Where do you stand and what exactly is the role of a sectional title body corporate?
Recently on Fin 24, these two comments paint the picture quite clearly:
“Personally, on the whole, I think BC’s rip us off.”
“I found that many people think there levy that they pay to the Body Corporate is only for maintenance. A Body Corporate is only there to make certain that all levy’s are paid and all accounts are paid, it is the trustees responsibilities for the day to day running. The Body Corporate by law can’t make decisions on a complex but can only do task by order of Trustees. P.S I am not part of a Body Corporate. The biggest problem is that owners do not attend the meetings and AGM but always complains.” (sic)
The body corporate question
Recently an unusual situation arose which gave light to plenty of controversial comment and very biased opinion. A sectional title owner posed this question to me on the Fin24 experts panel;
My BC recently called in plumbers to install a water pressure valve in a service duct that apparently only impacts my unit. The bill was subsequently passed onto me. I disagreed given this was on common property and not near my unit even though it controls pressure eventually fed to my unit. The BC has quoted rule 68 (vii) which states that I’m responsible for the heating installation and their stance is that it stands to reason this includes piping etc. I’m not convicted about this interpretation though. The geyser and related piping in my unit I would understand, but surely not a pressure valve controlling the supply to me from common property? Your thoughts?
Expert Body Corporate answer
Feeling for this owner’s plight, I asked Gerhard Faurie of Faurie Nell Inc, our sectional title legal expert for his opinion.
Here is his reply;
Hot whole water supply in sectional title is the exception to the rule that the BC covers the costs of common property repairs.
Essentially there are three classes of property in Sectional Title
1. Common property
2. Sections that belong to the respective owners
3. Common property to which certain owners have exclusive use
Insofar is number 1 above is concerned the body corporate is responsible for the maintenance of common property. The body corporate will attend to and/or pay for maintenance of the common property.
Hot water systems situated in or on the common property however is the exception to the rule. The whole hot water system is the responsibility of the owner it serves and therefore the person/s served by the hot water system will be responsible for the maintenance
The relevant section of the Regulation 68(1) (vii) provides as follows –
DUTIES OF OWNERS AND OCCUPIERS OF SECTIONS
68(1) In addition to his obligation– an owner –
(vii) shall maintain the hot water installation which serves his section, or where such installation serves more than one section, the owners concerned shall maintain such installation pro-rata, notwithstanding that such appliance is situated in part of the common property and is insured in terms of the policy taken out by the body corporate
So unfortunately for this owner, he has to foot the entire bill as this plumbing affected his unique hot water supply. Often in Sectional title schemes, due to the design and limited space in the units, the geysers are placed in the ceilings or stairwells (both are common areas). However, merely being situated in common areas, doesn’t make them the responsibility of the Body Corporate.
However I believe situation was handled very clumsily and the owner should have been informed of Regulation 68 of the Sectional Title Act prior to commencement of the work.
Clumsy administration like this serves to fuel the belief that BCs are the foe, to be fought with at all times!
In truth, the BC is actually a body of fellow owners who have stepped up to the plate, and taken the responsibility of looking after the complex.(for no pay, I might add!)
As an investor, I see the body corporates as friend who assists me in looking after my investment. This article expresses further reasons for my statement.[click here]
The next time you feel the urge to summarily dismiss the BC as rip-offs, or incompetent, I challenge you to stand for election on your local Body Corporate and make the difference yourself.
Be a part of the solution, don’t waste your breathe and openly display your ignorance with derogatory generalisations about body corporates !
Image courtesy of [Stuart Miles] / FreeDigitalPhotos.net