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17 Dec 2015

I live in a sectional title and two and a half months ago there was a problem with my geyser. Luckily there was no damage to the ceiling. However, it turned out that my unit does not have a stop valve and therefore I cannot turn the water off to my unit

The body corporate claimed from their insurance for the geyser and I just had to pay the excess. The stop valve has not been installed, even though they promised that it would be done.

Last week, due to a faulty part on the geyser, my whole unit was flooded, causing considerable damage to my ceiling and laminated wooden floors. Which party is liable to fix these? How will the insurance work this time around? Should the geyser and parts not still be under warranty?

Phil Calothi, owner and Managing Director of a leading Cape Town based managing agent company, Land and Sea Development Services (Pty) Ltd, advises:

In residential complexes, the body corporate generally insures the geysers on behalf of the owners although they are not obliged to do so. Depending on the policy, there will probably also be cover for replacement of fittings e.g. vacuum breakers, valves etc. and cover for water damage to the unit and moveables therein.

There will also be excesses payable by the owner.

In the instance of a burst geyser and the resultant damage relating thereto, it is essentially the responsibility of the owner to deal with it and to decide whether he or she wants to claim from the policy or not. There can be situations where the excess is so high that the costs to repair the damage may be less than the excesses and the geyser could also still have a manufacturer's guarantee in place.

If the trustees wish to offer their services through their managing agent to assist an owner with organising the repairs and insurance claim, they most certainly would need to obtain the owner’s written approval of quotes prior to dealing with the damage and the owner's written approval of acceptance of the workmanship of the contractor before payment is made by the insurance company and excesses charged to the owner.

The trustees have no right to incur expenses on an owner’s behalf without the owner’s approval.