select
|

Making sense of water damage in Sectional Title schemes

There is often uncertainty in sectional title schemes about water leaks, the ensuing damp problems, and who is liable to pay for what damage.
 
“However, in most cases the solution is actually quite simple,” says Andrew Schaefer, MD of leading national property management company Trafalgar. “Water and damp problems usually originate on the roof, in the foundations or in an outside wall. And as these are all parts of the common property, the body corporate – made up of all the owners in the scheme – is responsible for any work necessary to stop a water leak, and for the cost of those repairs, in terms of Section 37 of the Sectional Titles Act.”
 
In other words, he says, the owners of ground floor sections have the same responsibility to pay for any roof repairs that are necessary as the owners of sections on the top floor. Similarly, top-floor owners have to pay a portion of any foundation repairs that are necessary.
 
“And if a special levy has to be raised to pay for the repairs, this must be done according to owners' participation quotas, unless nominated values in terms of Section 32 of the Sectional Titles Act apply.”
 
In addition, Schaefer says, the owners of sections where there has been interior damage as a result of water seeping in from common property are entitled to expect the body corporate to also pay for the costs of their repairs – which the body corporate may be able to claim from insurance if the leak and resulting damages are the result of an unusual event such as a severe storm..  
 
“On the other hand, if a leak that causes damage originates in another section – from an overflowing bath, for example - the owner of that section will be responsible for the costs of repair. Common sense also dictates that a leak originating within a section, or damage caused by such a leak, is the sole responsibility of the section owner.”
 
There are some instances, though, where the source of a leak is not obvious. It could be from a pipe in the slab that forms the floor of one section and the ceiling of another, for example, or in a wall between two sections. In such cases, if the pipe is “in transit” from one part of the building to another, or if the pipe serves more than one section, the body corporate may be responsible for the cost of repairs, he says.
 
“However, the Act provides that if the pipe contains hot water, the owner of the section being served by the hot water is responsible for repair of the pipe as well as any damage caused by the leak.”
 
Schaefer also emphasises that it makes no sense for bodies corporate to try to delay the implementation of common property repairs to allow time to raise sufficient funds to pay for them. “In fact, this is a very risky practice that can result in even more damage to sections and common property – and more costly repairs in the long-run.
 
“For instance, if water is leaking through the roof and down the internal walls of a section, the body corporate will have to repair the roof, replace the ceiling and pay for repairs to the owner's walls. But if repairs are delayed, the body corporate might also have to pay for replacement of carpets and the contents of built-in cupboards, not to mention wall and floor tiles that have lifted and, in extreme cases, the warped and split timber trusses that support the roof itself.”
 
What is more, he says, any claims made against the body corporate’s insurance cover for costs related to water damage are likely to be repudiated if the source of the leak is maintenance-related.
 
“In short, repairs to common property are not discretionary, they are mandatory, and if the body corporate reserve fund is too low to cover the cost of the repairs, it will have no choice but to raise a special levy or obtain a specialised loan.”


  Comment on this Article

  Please login to post comments

Post to my facebook wall
  
2000
Characters remaining


    Latest Property News
    • 17 Nov 2017
      FWJK has announced the launch of its latest residential brand, the Lil’ Apple, which will be launched simultaneously in two developments in Cape Town and Umhlanga totaling 600 apartments. The Lil’ Apple is set to be a brand of FWJK’s New York style apartments which will be rolled out nationally.
    • 17 Nov 2017
      It’s been a tumultuous year on many fronts, with socio-political uncertainty setting the tone for much of South Africa’s economic activity yet despite this and seemingly counter-intuitively, the residential property market has held up well.
    • 17 Nov 2017
      The EAAB (the Estate Agency Affairs Board) recently claimed that around 50,000 illegal estate agents could currently be operating illegally.
    • 16 Nov 2017
      Penthouses are synonymous with New York – characterised by high-rise living that is decidedly luxurious and spacious. While exclusivity comes at a price, you can still create a “penthouse” look and feel in your existing apartment or even the upstairs bedroom of a double storey house with some clever design changes and styling touches.
    • 16 Nov 2017
      The area has long been popular with kite surfers and, with escalating property prices in Cape Town itself, is increasingly in demand with home owners who work in town, but are looking to invest in more affordable properties.
    • 16 Nov 2017
      Cape Town’s popularity as a world-class tourist destination has resulted in a spike in the number of homes available for holiday lets and fuelled investor demand for sectional title units with short term rental potential.
    • 15 Nov 2017
      Sappi, one of South Africa’s oldest global companies and a leading global supplier of sustainable woodfibre products, has moved its global and regional headquarters to a new site on the corner of Oxford and 14th Avenue in Rosebank.
    • 15 Nov 2017
      There’s an old saying in real estate that you should seek to make a profit when you buy, not only when you sell – and a large part of succeeding at that endeavour is buying a home in an area with desirable features that will enhance the resale value of your property.
        
    X
    Subscribe to the MyProperty Newsletter

    Name  
    Last Name  
    Email Address  
    Email Frequency
    select
    X
    Share this Page

       
    For Sale Property
    Rental Property
    More Options
    About
    Connect with us
    FEEDBACK