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Sectional Title: Extensions involve lots of red tape

Sectional title (ST) property owners who would like to extend or alter their units to create more space will probably have to spend a considerable amount of time and money to get the necessary approvals.
 
Before they can begin any building work they will need:

· The approval of the body corporate, authorised by a special resolution of its members;
· The approval of every bondholder (bank) with an interest in the ST scheme if they intend extending the unit by more than 5% of its current area;
· An amended sectional plan and a new schedule of participation quotas (PQs), drawn by a land surveyor or an architect for submission to the Surveyor General and then registered in the Deeds Office;
· The approval of the local authority for the building work proposed, which can only be obtained after the changes to the sectional plan have been approved and registered.
 
It is worth noting, says Berry Everitt, MD of the Chas Everitt International property group, that approval to extend a section comes from the body corporate - not the trustees – and that a special resolution requires a 75% vote in favour (in number and PQs) by the members of the body corporate present or represented by proxy at a meeting at which a quorum is present and of which at least 30 days’ notice has been given.
 
“However, owners who want to extend their sections must pay all the legal and administrative costs of changing the sectional plan and getting it approved and registered themselves. This is not a body corporate expense.”
 
On the other hand, he says, there is no question of an owner who wishes to extend having to "buy” the land on which he or she plans the addition. “All land within an ST scheme forms part of the common property and is owned in undivided shares by all the members of the body corporate.”
 
Writing in the Property Signposts newsletter, Everitt says the benefit to the body corporate of any extension will come in the form of a higher levy paid by the owner as a result of the increase in the PQ resulting from the increase in the floor area of the section – and that this will apply even if the section is extended vertically rather than horizontally.


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