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19 Mar 2015

Demand in the sectional title property sector has increased dramatically over the past few years. The reasons for this range from the perception of security in cluster developments to the sense of community these complexes provide.

A good sales agent will provide you with the latest financial statements of the complex and a copy of the registered rules.
However, for the large part, sectional title ownership remains relatively misunderstood by many prospective buyers in this sector. It is therefore imperative that buyers of sectional title property understand the legalities and responsibilities of the owner as stipulated in the Sectional Titles Act.

A sectional title property is a Scheme that assigns separate ownership of units or sections within a complex. Buying into a sectional title complex gives you ownership of a section or sections and an undivided share of the common property, which is based on a participation quota.

The first thing you need to take cognisance of is that when buying a sectional title unit, it is important to deal with an agent who specialises in sectional title sales and who understands the product.

This is according to Sean Mc Guinness, a principal at Milward and King Properties, who says it is also important to note that when buying into sectional title, the stability and future viability of the scheme is unquestionably linked to the involvement of the trustees (representatives appointed by the general ownership) and the quality and professionalism of the managing agent (appointed by the trustees).

A good sales agent will provide you with the latest financial statements of the complex and a copy of the registered rules. He says they should also be able to advise you how the levies are made up, whether there are any special levies pending, if the municipal accounts are up to date, if the unit has a garage or parking bay and if they are part of the section or for exclusive use or rented, as well as the name of the insurer of the complex.

He says once you have analysed this information and decided you want to buy into the scheme, as the owner you need to understand what your rights and responsibilities are.

“That is why it is so important to deal with a sales agent that specialises in sectional title properties. A specialist will always be updated on the Sectional Titles Act and will be able to provide a buyer with the necessary information.”

Your sales agent needs to explain to you how the levies are calculated (participation quota) and what the difference is between ordinary levies and special levies. There are owners who buy into a sectional title scheme under the impression that the monthly levy covers all municipal and maintenance requirements. Property owners are responsible for the rates and the electrical consumption in respect of their properties. The water and sewage consumption is usually metered by a bulk meter and included in the annual body corporate budget (levies), but some schemes have sub-meters that enable them to calculate and collect the individual water and sewage consumption.

The Sectional Titles Act is clear that the unit owner is obliged to repair and maintain the inside of his section and that this cost does not form part of the monthly levy.

Buyers are advised to go through their contract carefully to find out exactly which sections form part of the property they wish to buy, and if unsure or unfamiliar, to speak to an attorney before committing themselves.

Mc Guinness says you should ask your agent as many questions as possible. If they can’t provide you with the necessary information, find an agent who understands and is familiar with sectional title sales.