Do you have a leaky maintenance, repair and replacement plan?

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Marina Constas | Director | Specialist Sectional Title Attorney | BBM Law | mail me |


Heavy rains and flooding in parts of South Africa have put sectional title complex maintenance in the spotlight.

Leaks are currently making up half of her department’s case load. While an unexpected deluge may sometimes be to blame, in many cases, the problem is a leaky Sectional Title Maintenance, Repair and Replacement Plan (MRRP).

Not a box ticking exercise

Prescribed Management Rule (PMR) 22, which came into effect in 2016, is an important addition to the Sectional Title Schemes Management Act. This rule recognises that along with buying a property comes the responsibility to manage it, and that if one owner fails to do so, it impacts every owner and the overall quality and value of the complex.

In the past, when times were tough, as they are now, no matter how realistic or necessary the budget presented at the AGM by the trustees, a simple majority of members had the power to veto the proposed levy increase. If the buildings required maintenance, then they fell into disrepair because unit owners simply would not, or could not, fund the on-going maintenance. It was the easiest item to trim on the budget.

PMR 22 states that the trustees must prepare or have prepared a written MRRP for the common property. In a sectional title complex, the common property includes the roof, so a solid 10-year maintenance, repair and replacement plan should have shielded you and your property investment during recent downpours around the country.

The problem is that some trustees just view the requirement to have a MRRP as a box ticking exercise. Trustees who do this usually come unstuck. I have seen many one page plans which are put together by a caretaker. Simply not enough detail and consideration goes into the document.

Establishing who is to blame and who will foot the bill

The MRRP must set out in writing what major capital items are expected to require maintenance, repair and replacement in the next 10 years. It must also set out the present condition of those items. Roof maintenance would constitute a major item and a careful eye must be kept on the state of the roof.

A proper strategic plan drawn up by experts covering this 10-year period will go a long way in avoiding serious water leak issues.

Trustees and bodies corporate are recommended to have their MRRP drawn up by a professional company. I also urge anyone buying into a sectional title scheme to review the development’s MRRP. The plan will give you a good idea of how professional and competent the trustees are and will alert you to possible threats to the building’s integrity.

If your sectional title home has sprung a leak during the rainy season, there are a few things that will be considered to establish who is to blame and who will foot the bill. If you have bought into a brand-new complex and the roof is leaking after the rain, the developer will be liable for one year from the date of occupation in terms of the National Home Builders Registration Council (NHBRC) warranty cover. After one year, the body corporate is liable for a leaking roof as it is part of the scheme’s common property.

If the leak is the result of a sudden event, the repairs will be covered by the body corporate’s insurance. However, insurance companies will not cover the complex for wear and tear or water ingress due to a lack of maintenance. This is where a watertight MRRP comes in.

Gutters also form part of the common property, so must be maintained. They are often the culprits in leaks. When it comes to leaks through or under windows and doors, the owner and the body corporate would have to split the repair and maintenance cost in half. The median line is deemed to cut through doors and windows – right down the middle.

If your furniture or carpets are damaged by a leaking roof after rain, do not expect the body corporate’s insurance to pay for repairs or replacement. You must have your own separate insurance for movable items. The body corporate insurance will only cover the building and improvements.

In conclusion

Buyers must be alert when buying a unit with a large balcony. Always check to see if the balcony forms part of your section. If it does, you will be liable for the maintenance. A balcony may be designated as common property. In that instance, the body corporate would be liable.

I view damp, leaking roofs and leaking pipes as one of the biggest threats to the asset value of a building. Trustees must ensure that their reserve fund is sufficient to cover associated expenses and engage with experts to allocate a higher percentage of the annual budget to things like water proofing and roof maintenance.

Sectional title homeowners, buyers, tenants and anyone involved in community housing schemes in any way are urged to arm themselves with knowledge on the relevant legislation and understand their rights and responsibilities in order to navigate the inevitable challenges of a community lifestyle.


 



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