Thinking Inside the Box

A Paddocks Sectional Title Lifestyle Blog

Responsibility to repair and replace windows and doors

paddocks_windows

By Carryn Melissa Durham

I often get queries on who is responsible for the maintenance (including repair or replacement) of windows and doors within sectional title schemes. In this article I will address the financial responsibility for maintenance of the windows and doors (including garage doors).

In order to answer these questions I will examine what divides a section from the common property; what forms part of the section and what forms part of common property; who is responsible for the maintenance; how replacement is authorised; who is responsible for the costs; how can the costs be funded; and how are these costs allocated between owner and body corporate?

A draft sectional plan must define the boundaries of each section in the building. The common boundary between two sections or a section and common property is the median line of the dividing floor, wall or ceiling as the case may be. The boundaries of a section are defined by reference to the floors, walls and ceilings thereof, or as may be prescribed, provided that any window, door (including garage doors) or other structure which divides a section from another section or from common property, are considered to form part of such floor wall or ceiling.

The “median line” in the context of the drafting of sectional plans, is not a physical thing. It is a notional (imaginary) vertical or horizontal plane that represents the “mid-points” that are half-way between the exterior (outside) surfaces and the interior (inside) surface of a wall, floor or ceiling, with one half of that wall, for example, on either side of the median line. In terms of section 5 of the Sectional Titles Act (“the Act”) where a door or window is set into an exterior section wall the median line goes through the centre of that door or window. The effect of this provision is that windows and doors (including garage doors) in the exterior walls of sections are always partially part of the section (the inner 50%) and partially part of the common property (the outer 50%). The intent of this provision is to make the owner and the body corporate share maintenance and repair costs equally.

In terms of section 37(1)(j) of the Act, the body corporate must maintain all the common property, which includes the exterior part of any wall, door or window that forms a boundary between a section and common property. In terms of section 44(1)(c) the owner must repair and maintain the interior part of any wall, door or window that forms a boundary between a section and common property. Therefore, the expenses (which could include maintenance, repair and replacement costs) in regard to any window or door (including garage doors) in an exterior section wall should be split equally between the owner and body corporate.

If the windows cannot handle the level of wind-driven rain due to its age and design, and are beyond effective repair, and the only permanent solution will be replacement, then the replacement of the windows could either fall within maintenance or be an improvement depending on the circumstances. If, for example, the wooden window frames are replaced with aluminium ones, then the replacement will be useful and necessary and will, in my opinion, be a non-luxurious improvement to the common property. The process set out PMR 33(2) must be followed to authorise the replacement of the windows. Should the trustees wish to effect non-luxurious improvements to the common property, they must give written notice to all owners. The notice must indicate the intention to proceed with the improvement after a stated date not less than thirty days from the date of posting and provide details of the proposed improvements. The details must include the costs of the proposed improvements, how they are to be financed, the estimated effect on levies and the need, desirability and effect of the improvements. On receipt of notice from the trustees, any owner may request that the trustees convene a special general meeting to deliberate upon the proposals. At this meeting owners may by special resolution approve the trustees’ proposal with or without amendments. If any owner does request a special general meeting, the trustees may not proceed with their proposals until the meeting has been held. They are bound by the terms of any special resolution taken at that meeting. If they think owners may want to meet to discuss the issues, the trustees can save time by convening the special general meeting at the same time they give owners notice. If a meeting is called and no special resolution is taken approving the proposed improvements, The trustees may not proceed with the proposed improvements. If no owner requests a meeting within the notice period, the trustees are authorised to proceed with the improvements.

The body corporate can fund the project by using reserve funds; by raising a special levy if it is necessary that this be done before the next AGM; or the body corporate can include the expense in the next budget presented for approval at the AGM. The cost of repair or replacement of the windows or doors (including garage doors) in the exterior section wall that forms a boundary between the sections and common property should then be split equally between the owner and body corporate.

Image source: grandfloridianshutters.com

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26 comments on “Responsibility to repair and replace windows and doors

  1. Abraham Cunio
    August 28, 2017

    My understanding is that the median line goes through the centre if the window frame.
    The cost for the repair of latches, catche, and sometimes hinges are therefore entirely for the account if the section owner.
    To me that makes sense.
    Any comments?

  2. Georgina Buijs
    April 10, 2017

    I have been told that the sectional title plans for our complex indicate that the wooden verandah outside my first floor unit is part of my section and not common property. It needs urgent replacement which is costly. The other owners say if the verandah is not common property they as the body corporate will not pay for it. My view is that the exterior of the balcony, its wooden supports and its roof is part of the responsibility of the body corporate to maintain and the interior of the balcony would be mine and my neighbours. What is the legally correct view?

    • Paddocks
      April 19, 2017

      Dear Georgina,

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

      Kind regards,
      Paddocks

  3. William lawrence
    March 29, 2017

    Good day cold u kindly advise as from what date year did the ruling apply that the replacement of windows is 50/50 and act no Thanking you
    William

    • Paddocks
      April 4, 2017

      Dear William,

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

      Kind regards,
      Paddocks

  4. Deona Govender
    November 11, 2016

    Hi there with regards to the replacing of doors specifically – and the exterior of the unit being designated as EUA – who will bear the replacement cost? BC or Owner?

    • Paddocks
      November 17, 2016

      Hi Deona,

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

      Kind regards,
      Paddocks

  5. Annette Hayward
    November 2, 2016

    My garage is part of the unit. The door has become old and dangerous. Is the cost split 50/50?

    • Paddocks
      November 17, 2016

      Hi Annette,

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

      Kind regards,
      Paddocks

    • Gert P J Duvenhage
      January 2, 2017

      A garage-door forms part of the boundary of the common property and the owner’s house. Therefore I would reckon the expenses must be devided 50/50% basis. The median-line cannot be enforceable in this case,
      .

      • Paddocks
        January 11, 2017

        Hi Gert,

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

        Kind regards,
        Paddocks

  6. Pranusha
    August 11, 2016

    Dear Carryn, with regard to the 50/50 responsibility for the windows, would payment a special levy count as the owners 50% payment?

  7. Bianca du Plooy
    July 18, 2016

    Dear Carryn,

    Your article above refers.

    Regarding the payment for maintenance of doors (50/50 payments), does this include door locks or only the physical door (as bought without locks)?

    • Paddocks
      July 20, 2016

      Hi Bianca,

      The 50/50 principle is the most generally applied principle in these instances.

      Thanks,
      Paddocks

  8. Ryan
    January 18, 2016

    Is it possible for the Trustees to have a special resolution that places the onus of the windows maintenance 100% onto the owners. i.e. a rule that alters the definition of ownership in the Sectional Titles Act?

    • Paddocks
      January 18, 2016

      Hi Ryan,

      Thanks for the comment. The only way that you can change the financial responsibility for the payment of maintenance of windows is to make a rule in terms of section 32(4) of the Sectional Titles Act. The body corporate must pass a special resolution and any owner who is adversely affected must give his or her written consent. The rule must then be filed at the Deeds Office to be enforceable.

      Thanks,
      Paddocks

  9. Horst Schobesberger
    October 2, 2015

    The problem in our block of flats is that residents let the windows halfway open and strong winds / thunderstorms are destroyintg the glass of t5he window. Who must pay for the replacement of the windowglass ? Thank you ! HORST.

  10. Margie
    October 1, 2015

    In the case of an owner having a registered exclusive use garden area who would be financially responsible for the repair of the back door on the outside?

    • Arron
      October 1, 2015

      It would be interesting to get a reply from the Paddocks “experts”? My view in this case is that the door referred to does not abut onto common property and therefore the body corporate has no responsibility to contribute towards the cost!

  11. Gary Hambury
    September 30, 2015

    Hi Carryn, what if the window frames, doors only need to be varnished on the outside, would this be also a 50/50 split or would the Body Corporate be liable. If it remains a 50/50 split could one then not argue that this would apply to a wall as well or even the floor.

  12. David Tesh
    September 5, 2015

    Hi Carryn, Following on from your article below, our complex consists of some garages with normal tiled roofs, and some units have loft rooms with doors opening onto the garage roofs which are concrete slabs. These areas double as patios which have tiles laid on the concrete slabs. On the Sectional Plan these patios (garage roofs) are reflected as being Common Property. Certain of these roofs have now started to leak during rainy season and need to be repaired. The question is, who would be responsible for the repair (the B/C or the owner). There are no Exclusive Rights allocations, but clearly the use of the patios is only available to the owner, as access thereto by any other owner is only possible by accessing the unit, climbing the stairs to the loft room, and them stepping onto the patio (garage roof), via the door from the loft room. Another question would be; given the fact that the area of each loft room is regarded as part of the building footprint, the area of each unit is approximately 88m2, irrespective of whether you have a loft room (and patio) or not. Given the patio areas are recorded as CP, those without a patio (and a loft room) are essentially subsidizing maintenance and repair costs of a CP area to which they have no access? Would it not be more equitable to charge those with loft rooms and patios an additional levy in order to cover the additional maintenance liability of the BC? I’m not sure if my explanation makes sense, but if any issue needs further clarification, please do not hesitate to ask. Many thanks, David Tesh (Former Student of Paddocks)

    Sent from my iPad

    >

  13. Edwin Levin
    September 2, 2015

    Thank you , we have 2 such cases we are dealing with at the moment.
    In the one instance, the new owner inherited the problem.
    Regarding winddow maintenance I think a Conduct Rule by Special Resolution could resolve the issue . My opinion and that of of the Window installation companies is that Section owners should keep Drainage holes and tracks clean and mechanisms such as rollers and such like in good order by periodic servicing.

  14. Kobus
    September 1, 2015

    What if the window was broken from the occupant’s kid who threw a ball throught the window…..how can the BC then be held liable as they were not the cause of the repair needed.
    Who would be responsible for the repairs to the lock of a door/garage door if the lock is solely for use of the occupant/owner ?

    • Paddocks
      September 2, 2015

      Dear Kobus

      The body corporate has a claim against the owner for the cost of the window that was broken by the owner’s child. It is possible that this would be covered by the body corporate’s insurance.

      With regard to your second question: if the exterior lock is a standard feature and was not added by the owner, and the door is built into the exterior wall of a section then it forms part of the door installation and it is the body corporate’s obligation to carry out such repair or replacement as may be necessary. The body corporate must recover one half of the cost from the owner because the door is partly common property and partly section.

  15. Edwin Levin
    September 1, 2015

    Assuming a Section owner has replaced a window in the past without Trustees permission and not conforming to SANS or SABS standards for a Sea Front window, or his Contractors have done a poor job. There is now significant water ingress and windows need replacing. Is it still considered a 50/50 Split.
    What about servicing of window meachanism inside the apartment? Handles ,stays rollers in sliding windows etc. is this 50/50?

    • Paddocks
      September 1, 2015

      Hi Edwin

      Windows will always remain partly common property. It is for that reason that I would always advocate that the body corporate or trustees not allow an owner to remove and replace a window without the body corporate and trustees involvement. Recently there was a court case that addressed this issue. I will write an article on the findings of the case, but in essence the judge decided that, depending on the circumstances of the scheme and case, a replacement of a window by an owner can either be authorised by the trustees in terms of PCR 4 or as an improvement in terms of PMR 33. What is important is that the trustees supervise any changes to common property without first ensuring that the materials used and method of construction conform to the building regulations. If an owner did not at least ask for permission from the trustees then the installation is unauthorised and the body corporate will have a claim against the owner for the full cost of repair or replacement.

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