Thinking Inside the Box

A Paddocks Sectional Title Lifestyle Blog

What is common property?

common property, stairway, sectional title, sectional titles schemes management act, common area, staircase

By Dr. Carryn Melissa Durham

A basic principle in sectional title schemes is that the body corporate must maintain the common property, while owners must each maintain their section. It’s for this reason that it’s important to establish which parts of the scheme form part of common property.

Common property is defined in section 1 of the Sectional Titles Act 95 of 1986 (“the ST Act”) and section 1 of the Sectional Titles Schemes Management Act 8 of 2011 (“the STSM Act”) as follows:

“‘common property’, in relation to a scheme, means:

(a) the land included in the scheme;

(b) such parts of the building or buildings as are not included in a section; and

(c) land…”

In both the Sectional Titles Schemes Management and the STSM Act ‘‘land’’ means “the land comprised in a scheme as shown on a sectional plan.”

In order to establish what parts of the scheme are common property, the registered sectional plan must accurately identify and clearly show the boundaries of the common property and the sections in the scheme. Copies of the registered sectional plans for sectional titles schemes may be made at the local Deeds Registry Office, or obtained from the local Surveyor General.

On the sectional plan, the boundaries of a section and common property are usually represented by solid black lines.

The common boundary between any section and another section or common property is the median line of the dividing floor, wall or ceiling. The median line is not a physical thing, but one that represents the “mid-points” that will travel through the middle of any floor, wall or ceiling. Where a section is separated from another section or the common property by a floor, wall or ceiling, the boundary is normally the centre of the wall, floor or ceiling. Any window, door or other structure which divides a section from another section or from common property, is considered to form part of such floor, wall or ceiling.

Any part of a building that is not part of a section is common property. Examples of common property include:

  • stairways;
  • elevators;
  • passages;
  • the outer skin of the buildings including walls, doors and windows;
  • any roof; and
  • the land, including the foundations of the buildings.

It is also important to note that section 4(c) of the STSM Act empowers the body corporate to purchase, hire or otherwise acquire movable property for the use of owners for their enjoyment or protection, or in connection with the enjoyment or protection of the common property. These assets acquired by the body corporate may also be incorporated into the common property, and will need to be maintained by the body corporate.

Examples of assets include:

  • pool furniture for use around a common property swimming pool;
  • a generator;
  • a pump and storage cylinder for a borehole;
  • gardening equipment; or
  • gym equipment.

People who live in sectional title schemes require certain utility services such as water, gas or electricity supply; air conditioning; telephone service; a computer data or television service; a sewer system; drainage; a system for the removal or disposal of garbage or waste; or another system or service designed to improve the amenity, or enhance the enjoyment, of sections or the common property.

These utility services require utility infrastructure, such as:

  • pipes, wires, cables and ducts;
  • plant, machinery, fixtures and fittings and equipment used in connection with the common property and sections; and
  • separate meters to record the consumption of electricity, water and gas.

While most of the utility infrastructure is the body corporate’s responsibility to maintain, it is not considered common property, but rather infrastructure that is used in connection with the enjoyment or protection of the common property.

In conclusion, it is important to note that no section owner can exclusively own common property. The owners of all sections in the scheme jointly own all the common property in undivided shares.

If you need Paddocks to source your scheme’s sectional plans, or to give advice when it comes to establishing what parts of your scheme are common property, please contact me at consulting@paddocks.co.za for a no obligations quote.

Image source: Lindsay Henwood on Unsplash

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8 comments on “What is common property?

  1. Athi
    June 11, 2018

    Good day,
    A water leak on the meter, does it fall under the body corporate or the owner? where is the cut off in terms of owner responsibility and body corporate

    • Paddocks
      June 15, 2018

      Hi Athi,
      Thank you for your comment. We would love to help but unfortunately do not give free advice. Please see below for how we can help:
      – We offer consulting via telephone for R390 for 10 minutes. Please call 0216863950.
      – We have Paddocks Club, an exclusive online club, headed by Prof Graham Paddock, to help you get answers to your questions about community schemes: http://club.paddocks.co.za/
      – We offer a Free Basics of Sectional Title short course starting soon: http://www.paddocks.co.za/courses/free-basics-of-sectional-title/

      Kind regards,
      Paddocks

  2. Stephen Wilken
    January 10, 2018

    Do postboxes that are outside the perimeter fence, and therefore vulnerable to vandalism, fall under common property to be maintained at body corporate cost?

    • Paddocks
      February 9, 2018

      Good day Stephen,
      Thank you for your comment. We would love to help but unfortunately do not give free advice. Please see below for how we can help:
      – We offer consulting via telephone for R390 for 10 minutes. Please call 0216863950.
      – We have Paddocks Club, an exclusive online club, headed by Prof Graham Paddock, to help you get answers to your questions about community schemes: http://club.paddocks.co.za/
      – We offer a Free Basics of Sectional Title short course starting soon: http://www.paddocks.co.za/courses/free-basics-of-sectional-title/

      Kind regards,
      Paddocks

  3. Stephen Brooks (@broste20021)
    November 20, 2017

    Hi Carryn, I have a related question to that posed by Anne. From what you say an electric boundary fence would be asset, but would a communal swimming pool be common property? if such a pool were to be extended in size, what sort of resolution would be required?

    • Paddocks
      November 27, 2017

      Hi Stephen,
      Thanks for your query. On our Paddocks website, http://www.paddocks.co.za, Carryn wrote an article on authorising the installation of swimming pools. Unfortunately, the principles and provisions have changed since the new legislation came into operation last year. She will be updating the article in the near future. Please keep an eye on our Paddocks Press newsletter and blog posts. If you require specific advice, please do not hesitate to contact our consulting team on consulting@paddocks.co.za or call 0216863950 for an obligation-free quote. Sign up for Paddocks Press here: http://bit.ly/PaddocksPress

  4. Anne Greening
    November 16, 2017

    Thanks for the lucid explanation of common, property, Carryn. Your comment that utility infrastructure is not considered common property raises a question. What approval is required for improvements to infrastructure? Since approval of a special resolution is required for improvements to the CP, would this also apply to – for example – the installation of a more powerful gate motor?

    • Paddocks
      November 30, 2017

      Hi Anne, thank you for the compliment. The purchase of a more powerful gate motor would be dealt with under section 4(c) of the STSM Act that gives the body corporate the power to to purchase, hire or otherwise acquire movable property for the use of owners for their enjoyment or protection or in connection with the enjoyment or protection of the common property. The cost of the motor would, of course, need to be approved in the body corporate’s budget.
      Kind regards,
      Paddocks

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