Thinking Inside the Box

A Paddocks Sectional Title Lifestyle Blog

How Private is Your Section, Really?

sectional title body corporate access to sectionsBy Anton Kelly

One of the fundamental rights of property ownership is the right to control who comes onto your property. But like many other rights, this right is limited. Officials of the local municipality, Telkom technicians and of course the police may enter your property against your will, under the right circumstances. Additionally, in sectional title schemes, the right to control access to your property is limited in two particular ways.

Modern buildings have facilities for the passage of services contained within the building, unlike older buildings, where one can observe water and waste pipes and electrical conduits attached to the outside of the building. The Sectional Titles Act makes provision for the passage of communal service-carrying pipes, wires, cables and ducts through sections as well as the common property.

Every section has servitudes for the passage of pipes, wires, cables and ducts. This means that they can pass through the building inside the boundaries of the sections. All owners benefit from these servitudes and, equally, are not entitled to prevent this passage. Included in these servitudes is the right of section owners to have access to every other section in order to maintain and repair the pipes, wires, cables and ducts when necessary. Fortunately, this right is not to be exercised by the individual owners, but only by the body corporate, through technicians with access that is authorised, in writing, by the trustees. Trustees may only authorise this access for reasonable times and with reasonable notice, unless an emergency situation occurs.

The second limitation on section owners’ right to control access to their sections, is the right of the body corporate, in the form of the trustees or a person authorised by them in writing, to enter a section to make sure that the provisions of the Act and rules are being observed. The same requirement for reasonable times and notice applies.

Life in a sectional title scheme is a continual balance between the benefits of an ordered, convenient and safe environment, and the sometimes intrusive and restrictive obligations that come along with it. It is in everyone’s best interest to make the small sacrifices necessary to maintain this balance.

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5 comments on “How Private is Your Section, Really?

  1. deven naicker
    January 31, 2015

    Hi, I just purchased a unit in a body corporate having, moved from another body corporate complex.My question is this unit servitude pipes supply water and receive waste water from the unit.Due to the curve of the pipe being in correct or maybe the pipes being blocked,due to lack of flushing the pipes at all,who is liable for this costs, is it me the owner of the unit as the water is coming from my unit,or the body corporate as the mere fact the pipes are in the verhanda common property of the body corporate.From my knowledge,it should be the body Corp.

    Regards Deven

    • camelot.windsor
      February 9, 2015

      Deven, outside of your median lines, the BC is responsible for all pipes including hot and cold running water pipes, basin and bath drain pipes, and all sewers.

  2. Pingback: What Is the Process for Maintenance and Repair of the Common Property in a Strata Scheme? | Autos

  3. Anne Greening
    December 10, 2013

    What are the legal implications for the trustees, if they break into a unit in an emergency? This has happened in our scheme twice in the last few years. In one case, the owner left a pot of food cooking when he went out, causing a fire. We broke in an extinguished it, limiting the damage. In the second, a resident fell inside her house, and was badly injured; and we broke in to admit our nursing staff.

    • paddocks
      December 10, 2013

      Hi Anne, in terms of section 44(1)(a) of the Act an owner is obliged to permit any person authorised in writing by the Body Corporate, at all reasonable hours on notice (except in the case of emergency, when no notice shall be required), to enter his/her section or exclusive use area for the purposes of inspecting it and maintaining, repairing or renewing pipes, wires, cables and ducts existing in the section and which are capable of being used in connection with the enjoyment of any other section or common property or for the purposes of ensuring that the provisions of the Act and the rules are being observed. In the emergency situations you have described there shouldn’t be any negative legal implications for the trustees!

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