South Africa - Sectional title alterations that don’t require body corporate approval

By Jenifer Paddock and updated by Dr Carryn Melissa Durham

When doing renovations to your section (generally the interior of your living area) in a sectional title scheme, it is often difficult to know what you need to get approval for. As a general rule, unless your conduct or management rules state otherwise, you can go ahead without approval from the trustees or body corporate, if the alteration:

  • is within the boundaries of your section;
  • doesn’t prejudice the structural support that your section provides to other sections and the common property; and
  • doesn’t prejudice the harmonious appearance of the building

How do I determine where the boundaries of my section are?

Don’t just take someone’s word for it. You need to get hold of a copy of the scheme’s sectional plan. You can request a copy from the managing agent, the trustees or directly from your local Deeds Registry.

How do I know if my alterations will prejudice structural support?

If you are considering bashing out interior walls you may well need to get a structural integrity assessment carried out in order to satisfy the trustees that you won’t be compromising the stability of the building. If you are not removing any walls, you shouldn’t need to worry about this.

What do you mean “material negative affect on the value or utility of any other section or exclusive use area?” 

The body corporate must take all reasonable steps to ensure that a member or any other occupier of a section or exclusive use area does not do anything to a section or exclusive use area that has a material negative affect on the value or utility of any other section or exclusive use area. This replaces the previous obligation on owners not to “prejudice the harmonious appearance of the building”.

What do you mean “damage to common property?”

You must not, without the trustees’ written consent, mark, paint, drive nails, screws or other objects into, or otherwise damage or deface a structure that forms part of the common property.

What do you mean by “detract from the appearance from outside?”

You must not, without the trustees written consent, make a change to the external appearance of the section or any exclusive use area allocated to it unless the change is minor and does not detract from the appearance of the section or the common property.

If your alterations will not affect the outside appearance of the building then you don’t need to worry about breaching this rule. If you are planning on doing any renovations that would be visible from the outside or would change the way the building currently looks from outside then you would need trustee consent.

If your alteration will, for example, involve the installation of a new window frame, you will need the consent of the trustees.

Even if your internal alterations don’t require approval, for the sake of good neighbourly relations, we suggest you notify the trustees (or managing agent) if your tradesmen will be parking in visitors parking bays or making noise for extended periods of time and to arrange bin placement and storage of building materials on the common property if necessary.

Happy renovating!

Courtesy: Paddocks

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