Thinking Inside the Box

A Paddocks Sectional Title Lifestyle Blog

Sectional Title Alterations that DON’T Require Body Corporate Approval:


When doing renovations to your section (generally the interior of your living area) in a sectional title scheme, it is often difficult to know which works you need to get approval for. As a general rule, if the alteration:

  • is within the boundaries of your section;
  • doesn’t prejudice the structural support that your section provides to other sections and the common property; and
  • doesn’t prejudice the harmonious appearance of the building

you can go ahead without approval from the trustees or body corporate generally.

How do I determine where the boundaries of my section are?

Don’t just take someone’s word for it. You need to get hold of a copy of the scheme’s sectional plan. You can request a copy from the managing agent, the trustees or directly from your local Deeds Registry.

How do I know if my alterations will prejudice structural support?

If you are considering bashing out interior walls you may well need to get a structural integrity assessment carried out in order to satisfy the trustees that you won’t be compromising the stability of the building. If you are not removing any walls, you shouldn’t need to worry about this.

What do you mean ‘prejudice the harmonious appearance of the building’?

The harmonious appearance of the building refers to how the building looks from the outside. If your alterations will not affect the outside appearance of the building then you don’t need to worry about breaching this rule. If you are planning on doing any renovations that would be visible from the outside or would change the way the building currently looked from outside then you would need trustee consent.

Even if your internal alterations don’t require approval, for the sake of good neighbourly relations, we suggest you notify the trustees (or managing agent) if your tradesmen will be parking in visitors parking bays for extended periods of time and to arrange bin placement and storage of building materials on the common property if necessary.

Happy renovating!

Image source:


25 comments on “Sectional Title Alterations that DON’T Require Body Corporate Approval:

  1. Riaan van Tonder
    September 12, 2020

    Is an owner allowed to make internal changes without Trustees approval like removing the internal ‘braaikaggel’ and Chimney which alters the external appearance if all 6 units were built on identical plans? Is the Trustees interpretation of rule rule 8.1 below correct that although the wording does not include ‘Chimney’, it is not excluded from the harmonious aesthetic appearance of units, and therefore Trustees approval is required.
    Conduct rule 8.1 state: The owner or occupier of a section shall not place or do anything on any part of a section or the common property that is likely to prejudice the harmonious appearance of the building. This includes alterations on or to balconies, verandas, patios which, in the opinion and at the discretion of the Trustees, is aesthetically displeasing, undesirable or visually not in keeping with the general scheme of colours, quality or appearance of other sections or the property as a whole, when viewed from the outside of the section.

    • Paddocks
      October 12, 2020

      Hi Riaan,

      Thank you for your comment. This is something that our legal team would need to advise on. Please send a detailed brief to and the team will provide a no-obligation quote for their assistance.

      The Paddocks Team

  2. horst schobesberger
    August 10, 2017

    Partitioning of flats with boards to create more bedrooms and leading ultimately to overcrowding . It is not only the Sectional Titles Scheme Management Act and Regulations which governs living in a ST Block of Flats, there are Municipality By-Laws, the Rental Housing Act, Townplanning Scheme Act etc. Any change in the original building plan [ and not only structural changes ] needs approval of Building Control irrespective of boards, wood or mortar. [ for Tshwane / Pretoria ] HORST.

  3. Janette Botha
    July 13, 2017

    Hi, Is a body corporate allowed to attach fiber optic cables to the wall of my unit without my consent?

    • Paddocks
      August 10, 2017

      Dear Janette,

      Thank you for your comment. We are more than happy to help, however we do not give free opinions / advice. Please email us on with regards to your matter, and we can provide you with a no-obligation quote, so that we can assist you.

      Kind regards,

  4. horst schobesberger
    April 4, 2017

    Sectional Titles Block of 105 flats in Sunnyside / Pretoria. Any change, affecting the original buildingplan of your flat, irrespective of the material you are using [ and this includes chipboards ] needs the approval of the Building Control Office of the Municipality. Partitions or taking down a wall is called ” Minor Buildingwork “. We have included this into our legalized Conduct Rules. Without this written Approval we don’t allow owners to carry on. We also make it clear that the owner must not increase the number of tenants because he/she has created more bedrooms. Overcrowding and creating slums [ another Schubart Park as we call it. It is an ongoing battle to prevent this. HORST.

  5. Rose
    March 13, 2017

    Do you have to have new plans drawn up for merely putting in a standard size door into garage, I had a builder put one in from my dining room into garage, so when I return home I can enter my unit straight from garage.
    I live in a sectional title complex

    • Paddocks
      April 4, 2017

      Dear Rose,

      Thank you for your comment. We are more than happy to help, however we do not give free opinions / advice. Please email us on with regards to your matter, and we can provide you with a no-obligation quote, so that we can assist you.

      Kind regards,

  6. Karien Jooste
    September 2, 2016

    Hi team
    If some of the owners in a sectional title scheme wish to move towards full title it is a major financially strained situation for owners. Do they not require the permission of all owners?

    • Paddocks
      September 15, 2016

      Hi Karien,

      Thank you for your comment. Please email us on with regards to your matter, and we can provide you with a no-obligation quote, so that we can assist you.

      Kind regards,

  7. Ray
    April 20, 2016

    I am hoping you can assist.
    I recently removed all carpet from my apartment and replaced it with tiles. I also redid my kitchen, by that I mean I removed my old kitchen fittings and replaced them with new ones. No walls removed or added. Structure remained the same.
    However, now that we have tiles in the entire apartment, the downstairs neighbor is complaining that he can hear footsteps as well as loud noises throughout the day. There are no rules pertaining to NOT removing the tiles in the body corporate rules. However, the BC has now stated that they should have been notified of the work which I completed so that they could have advised me on the tiling matter as these units have been installed with carpet due to the fact of noise emanating through the slabs. If I do not come to a solution with my neighbor, the BC will take legal action.
    Do I have anything to be concerned about?
    Please assist me.

    Thank you

    • Paddocks
      April 21, 2016

      Hi Ray,

      Thanks for your comment. Your scheme’s registered rules must provide for a procedure relating to renovations and alterations of sections, requiring the prior written consent of the trustees, and setting out conditions, which owners must comply with e.g. replacement of carpets, tiling etc. Should this rule not exist, Section 44(1)(e) of the Sectional Titles Act, regulating nuisance, would apply.

      Should you require any further assistance, do not hesitate to contact us on


  8. Horst Schobesberger
    March 31, 2016

    response to Small Town Girl. QUESTION ? Do all the other residents of the flats in your block have access to the garden from their flats ? If not, than this could be the problem and not the outside appearance. There are always unreasonable and stubborn Trustees who believe they are running a prison camp. The Sectional Titles Act speaks about ” enjoyment ” and as long as you don’t disturb a safe, secure and orderly environment, why should you have not direct access to the garden and as long as you are not creating YOUR garden within the common garden. Just a remark and not much of a practical advise. HORST.

  9. Please can someone assist me – we want to renovate our apartment which was built in the seventies and even though we have a beautiful view into the shared garden, with the entire one side of our apartment facing onto the garden – we have no access to it from our flat and would like to build a sliding door or stack doors so we can easily access the garden which we pay as part of our rates.

    The BC rules state that we cannot change the facade of the building so we kept the doors in the same position of where the windows are currently and yet they have indicated this is not allowed as we need to keep the same size and proportion that the windows currently have.

    This garden is an internal garden to the complex and is not street facing and the apartment next to ours has access to the garden, although it is a corner unit and in place of the brick below the window it has panels of glass but they still have access to which we do not.

    Furthermore, the flats also facing into the garden from the opposite side have garden access and their facade is completely different to ours and in most cases each other.

    Our design is keeping to the overall design, updating the building since it has not been renovated or updated since it was built and respecting the overall aesthetics of the building.

    How does one prove that these changes should be accepted and should still be deemed harmonious?

    Please help!

    • Paddocks
      March 30, 2016

      Hi there,

      Thanks for your question. This is a bigger matter, as we would need to see the scheme registered rules. If there are no rules setting out what can or can’t be done, we could write a letter to the Body Corporate advising that they are unreasonably withholding consent relying on harmonious appearance that doesn’t seem to exist within the scheme. Please contact us on 021 686 3950 or email


  10. Peter-John
    February 26, 2015

    Hi an owner has installed a woodburner in their unit. The chimney is clearly visible from the outside. The owner obtained written permission from the estate manager, but the Trustees were aware of a request, but permission was NOT granted. New trustees have been appointed and a new estate manager has been appointed and all sorts of things like this are now starting to come to light. The owner who put the woodburner in and installed the chimney is now refusing to remove the chimney at her cost. She says the body corporate must pay and we must pursue the managing agent for the cost. Can the body corporate (the trustees) demand that she remove the chimney at her cost as she did not get Trustee permission and also that the rules in any event state that she cannot make such changes, despite her getting managing agent permission?

    • Horst Schobesberger
      April 22, 2015

      HORST. Our issue in a 104 flats Block of Flats is the partition of rooms to create more bedrooms in order to put more tenants into the flat, creating overcrowding. Our rules based on the input by BUILDING CONTROL is that any partition of rooms or removal of existing walls is called MINOR BUILDINGWORK. It requires the approval by BUILDING CONTROL [ City Council Pretoria ] based on the original building plan, irrespective of the material used e.g. wooden boards. Our Board of trustees gives permission for such alterations ,like partitions, if BUILDING CONTROL approves. There are no by-laws in Pretoria regulating the number of residents in a flat. It is up to the landlord [ owner or letting agency ] to decide the numbers. this can be a problem if you have a greedy / irresponsible Landlord. We are trying to have not more than 2 persons per bedroom and using the Rental Housing Act to stop illegal subletting leading to overcrowding. But all the above mentioned points are a 24/7 BATTLE. The issue of woodburners is more for Housing Complexis. the importance for all issues of alterations is to prevent it to happen BEFORE approval is given and not when alterations have already taken pklace. HORST.

  11. paddocks
    June 26, 2013

    Hi Horst, as far as we are aware non-structural internal renovations to a section don’t usually require building plans and local authority approval. If I was you though I’d investigate further with your local authority to get it’s specific advice on this issue as well as it’s by-laws relating to overcrowding. Good luck!

  12. Horst Schobesberger
    June 26, 2013

    I am concerned about alterations involving the partitions of rooms to create more bedrooms and leading to overcrowding. A building inspector in Pretoria briefed me that any change of the original building plan [ NOT Sectional Title Plan ] needs the approval of the relevant authorities [ Building Control ] and that includes the43 partitions using chip-boards. Can I ask for clarification on this issue ???

  13. Graham Katz
    April 23, 2013

    We had an issue where two tenants converted a bedroom into a bathroom with the sewerage pipes going through the outside wall of the complex. Plans have to be passed for this type of alteration firstly and secondly, as the pipes are now in common property, the trustees approval is not enough.


    • paddocks
      April 23, 2013

      Hi Graham,
      Obviously the alteration you describe has already been done but it sounds as if it would definitely require plans to be passed by the Local Authority before it would be ‘legal’. As it affects the common property, the owner concerned should have submitted his proposal to the trustees, along with the approved LA plans, and the trustees could then have circulated the proposed plans to all owners asking for any objections. If no owners objected then the trustees could give approval on behalf of the body corporate, but if there were any objections received, then the issue should have put to the body corporate for voting (either by postal ballot or at a general meeting).

  14. Lauren
    April 23, 2013

    Hi Paddocks Team
    I think that your comments about what qualifies as appropriate for the alteration to proceed without the permission of the Body Corporate should include:
    1. That the alteration will not interfere with the reticulation of water, sewerage and electricty and if there are to be any changes to common pipes and installations , permission should be sought.
    2. The Conduct Rules of the scheme should be referred to. Many schemes have policies to manage the impact on common property, buildng rubble, noise and security and other owners use and enjoyment of their sections

    • paddocks
      April 23, 2013

      Hi Lauren,
      Thank you for your comments. We agree with you – if the alterations to the inside of a section are to in any way affect the common property in respect of water, sewerage or electricity then the owner would not be able to proceed without permission being granted. And you’re absolutely right, the scheme rules should be referred to in case there are particular rules that deal with alterations to a section and need to be adhered to.

  15. paddocks
    April 18, 2013

    Hi Anne, sounds sensible to us! The body corporate could amend the conduct rules by special resolution to incorporate a rule requiring owners to advise the trustees before starting major alterations to their sections. It would just have to consider what would fall into the ‘major’ alterations category and perhaps specify this in the rule to ensure that the rule has the desired effect.

  16. Anne Greening
    April 18, 2013

    My feeling is that it should be mandatory to advise the trustees before starting any major internal renevations of alterations. This way, proper arrangements can be made for such matters as contractors’ parking, security and safety issues, dumping of materials or rubble on the common property, control of noise, toilets for contractors’ use, hours of work, etc.

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This entry was posted on March 27, 2013 by in Legal.

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