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Sectional Title developments are governed by the Sectional Titles Act No. 95 of 1986. A Sectional Title Unit consists of the following:  a Section (usually an apartment as described on the Sectional Plan), an Exclusive Use Area on the common property ( such as a patio or parking bay), and an undivided share in the common property of the scheme.

Sectional Title Units appeal to a broad spectrum of home buyers including both owner/occupiers and investors. Latest industry estimates indicate that more than 2 million people in South Africa are now living in some 550 000 sectional title units. Buyers are attracted by good security, ease of external maintenance by the body corporate, and gardens which are kept in good condition all year round.

However buying a sectional title unit is not as simple as buying a house. There are trade- offs for convenience and security, and these include not only the monthly levy but reduced privacy and restrictions on the use of one’s property. When owning a house, one can alter the building and change its colour. Whereas with a sectional title unit, an owner’s decision making is collective through the body corporate which in turn is bound by the management and conduct rules of the scheme. So whilst there are advantages let’s look at some of the important issues to consider when buying a sectional title unit.

Duties of Sectional Title Owners – for prior consideration by Buyers. In terms of Section 44 (1) of the Act, an Owner shall :

  1. permit any person authorized in writing by the body corporate, at all reasonable hours on notice (except in an emergency, when no notice shall be required), to enter his/her section for the purpose of inspecting or repairing pipes, cables etc. which are used in any other section; or to inspect the section to ensure that the act and rules are being observed.
  2. forthwith carry out all work ordered by any competent public or local authority.
  3. repair and maintain his/her section and keep it in a clean and neat condition.
  4. use the common property in a manner so as not to unreasonably interfere with the use and enjoyment thereof by other owners.
  5. not use a section or exclusive use area in such a manner as shall cause a nuisance.
  6. notify the body corporate forthwith of any change of ownership.
  7. not use a section for any purpose other than as shown on the sectional plan without consent.

In addition to the aforesaid, in terms of Management Rule 68, an Owner:

1.   shall not use a section or exclusive use area in a manner injurious to the reputation of the building.

2.  shall not contravene any law relating to the occupation of the building or the carrying on of business therein without the consent of the trustees which may only be given in compliance with the local authority’s regulations for working from home, which with today’s advanced technology is becoming increasingly practical.

3. shall not make any alterations which are likely to impair the stability of the building, or in any way prejudice the building’s harmonious appearance which is strictly enforced to protect its integrity.

Sectional Title ownership has many advantages and the management and conduct rules, although restrictive, are essential to ensure sound management of the property and good relations between owners. Given all the legal complexities, Buyers are advised to consult a Property Attorney before signing any Offer to Purchase.

Parkin Attorneys – Property Law Specialists in Cape Town