By Jennifer Paddock
Ownership of walled gardens
If the garden areas are exclusive use areas then although all owners actually own the gardens in undivided shares, the usage of those gardens is limited to the holders of the exclusive use rights. If the garden areas are not exclusive use areas then they are unregulated common property, owned by all owners in undivided shares, and theoretically all owners are able to use them. The fact that the gardens are walled off means that these areas are inaccessible to other residents in the scheme and that the owner of the section next to the walled off garden area has what is called de facto or ‘factual’ exclusive use of the area. If this is the case this situation should be regularised so that the owners are granted de lege or legal exclusive use rights either in terms of section 27 or section 27A of the Act.
Q2: One owner has three cars. One is parked in his parking bay and the other two in visitors’ bays. One of the cars parked in a visitor’s bay is not mobile. Do the trustees have the authority to remove this car?
A2: According to municipal regulations, a certain number of visitors’ parking bays must be available for visitors to each sectional title scheme. Parking an immobile vehicle in a visitor’s bay is an effective breach of the municipal regulations.
Prescribed conduct rule 3(2) allows the trustees to remove or tow away a vehicle that is parked without their consent or has been abandoned on the common property, at the risk and expense of the owner of the vehicle. Based on this rule, the trustees may consider employing the services of a towing company that has a secure storage facility to remove the vehicle. However, implementing this rule is not always simple, as the trustees would most likely have to pay the towing company upfront and then attempt to recover this expense from the owner concerned. There is also the possibility that the vehicle may not be claimed.
I would suggest that before the trustees consider having this vehicle removed or towed they speak to the owner of the vehicle and inform her/him that s/he is breaching the scheme’s rules as well as the municipal regulations. If that does not produce results then the next step would be a letter demanding that the car is removed failing which the trustees can arrange for it to be towed.
Blocked sewerage pipes
Q3: My sewerage pipe has now been blocked 3 times in the last year. I have just found out that my neighbour is on the same sewerage line in a sectional title complex. Who is responsible for payment?
A3: In terms of the provisions of the Sectional Titles Act 95 of 1986, the law relating to pipes in sectional title schemes is as follows:
- If the pipe is part of your section it is your responsibility unless the pipe serves a number of parts of the scheme (ie. more than one section), then it is the body corporate’s responsibility.
- If the pipe is outside your section (ie. on the common property) the body corporate must maintain and repair it even if it only serves your section.