Thinking Inside the Box

A Paddocks Sectional Title Lifestyle Blog

What is common property?

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By 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 is for this reason that it is 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 theSectional 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 Registries 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 is rather a notional vertical or horizontal plane 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 or guidance 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: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/

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One comment on “What is common property?

  1. 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?

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