Do your research on body corporate rules

Sectional title homes have become a popular choice among South African buyers due to the security and lifestyle benefits that they provide. 

Often sectional title units are more affordable, making them an ideal option for buyers purchasing their first property. Adrian Goslett, CEO of RE/MAX of Southern Africa, says that another benefit to sectional title units that has made them so appealing to a wide range of homebuyers is the fact that they generally require very little maintenance on the owner’s part.
“The sectional title model has proven to be a highly popular one since it first appeared in this country and it continues to outsell freestanding homes in many regions across South Africa. Buyers are able to enjoy a low maintenance home in a secure, community environment without paying exorbitant prices. Apart from the security element of these kinds of properties, buyers often want to purchase sectional title units due to the shared costs of basic services such as water and electricity. Sharing the cost of these resources often means that sectional title owners will pay less than those living in freestanding properties,” says Goslett. 
Another significant factor that attracts buyers to sectional title property is the lower maintenance costs due to the fact that the owner only has to maintain their unit’s interior, while exterior maintenance is carried out by the complex’s body corporate. In addition, Goslett says that the levy payments made by sectional title owners will also normally cover any required maintenance or upgrades to the complex in the future, a factor which will contribute to the property’s appreciation in value over the long term.
“It goes without saying that purchasing a sectional title unit can afford the buyer many advantages and provides them with a safe yet reasonably cost-effective home buying option. However, while there are many benefits to living in a sectional title unit, challenges could arise if the homeowner is not fully aware of all the rules and regulations that are stipulated by the body corporate,” says Goslett. “Before purchasing any sectional title property, a buyer should obtain a copy of and carefully read through the rules that govern the scheme.”
He notes that the body corporate rules specify what the current homeowners within the scheme deem as acceptable. “The rules are there to establish what homeowners are allowed to do or are prohibited from doing within the confines of the complex. They provide existing homeowners as well as new homeowners with guidelines and ground rules with regard to homeownership within the complex. These rules and regulations are registered with the deeds office to guarantee that they are enforceable. For this reason, it is important that buyers ensure they fully understand all the rules that they are agreeing to. If the buyer requires any further explanation, they should contact the trustees and request clarification,” advises Goslett.
He adds that a fairly common issue with regard to body corporate rules is pet ownership. Goslett says that as a general rule, pet owners should obtain written permission from the trustees of the complex to ensure that they are covered and their pets are allowed on the complex grounds. This will negate any future conflict that could arise from having a pet or pets on the premises.
“Another important consideration that buyers should take into account when purchasing within a sectional scheme is the financial state. Any homebuyer looking to purchase a property within the scheme is entitled to view the financial statements of the body corporate to determine the scheme’s liquidity. The statements will reveal whether or not the scheme has enough money available to cover the operational expenses of the complex, as well as any future expenses that could arise. Looking at the last annual general meeting minutes will also provide the buyer with information regarding any planned special levies or possible problems that the complex has dealt with over the last 12 month period,” says Goslett.
He warns that because current homeowners within the scheme are liable for all costs and legal fees that arise from correcting and legalising the process of re-registering the scheme with the Deeds office, it is advisable to view the sectional title plan to ensure all buildings on the premises have been approved by the necessary organisations and the municipality.
Goslett concludes by saying that sectional title properties will continue to be a sought-after property investment option among buyers from all walks of life due to the numerous lifestyle benefits they offer. “As with any property purchase it is important that all the required homework is done to ensure a good return over the long term.  Reading up on the body corporate rules of a complex is an ideal way for sectional title buyers to know what they are buying before they take that final step.”

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