Exclusive or common? Know your rights and uses in sectional title property

When it comes to sectional title property, you generally invest in a home that is joined or part of a bigger scheme with many common or shared use areas. Paul French, commercial director for Coastal Property Management Services, says it is important to know your rights and understand the conditions around use in sectional title property.

While your own unit or home and cordoned off yard/garden would generally be for your own exclusive use, main driveways, complex gardens and swimming pools, braai areas and open parking areas are for the use and enjoyment of all residents, he says.

When you buy or rent in a sectional title scheme, it is important to realise that you will be part of a community and scheme that comes with rules and regulations aimed at promoting harmonious living while simultaneously protecting the property and keeping it in a state of good repair.

For obvious reasons, use of certain areas might be restricted to certain times. If you want to have friends over for a pool party, then, says French, you would need to secure prior permission for this and would need to conduct the event in line with certain rules.

He says that noise and litter are two main issues that tend to crop up when you have visitors and you would be required to keep to the prescribed noise levels and to ensure that the area is thoroughly cleaned afterwards.

If there is a lawned play area for children, sometimes even with play equipment, then there will also be rules that guide noise and usage. Bear in mind that as with all of the common or shared property and facilities, it is there for the benefit of all residents and need to be used in accordance with the governing rules.

The keeping of pets is another matter that is often regulated and French says that if you find yourself in a pet-friendly complex or estate, you would need to be sure to keep to the rules in regard to roaming pets. If you want to take your dog for a walk around the grounds for example, you will need to keep it on a leash and clean up if there is any mess.

A final, but important point, he notes, relates to open parking. This is often problematic when it comes to visitors. The allocation of the open parking bays, can be either determined upfront by the developer allocating exclusive use bays to some of all units in the scheme. Or, the body corporate can after registration of the scheme allocate the bays.

 

Residents will then be expected to only use bays that are allocated to their respective units. In the event that a resident expects additional guests, they will need to make suitable parking arrangements with the body corporate, alternatively, the guests will need to park outside of the complex or estate.

The monthly levies generally cover the day-to-day maintenance of the common or shared areas including any gardens or grounds as well as the upkeep of shared parking areas.

Exclusive use areas such as dedicated parking bays will be the responsibility of the relevant property owner and an additional amount may be added to the levy by the Body Corporate. French says that any special projects undertaken such as expanding the gardens or cleaning of paving, generally tends to be regarded as a special project for which special levies (over and above the standard monthly levies) are then raised for a period of time.