By Prof Graham Paddock
Who pays for replacement of aluminum rivets on hinges of windows?
We own a residential flat section in a holiday scheme on the KZN North Coast. The development is on a beach and all of the windows are aluminum and have stainless steel hinges that are riveted to the frames and opening windows. The opening part of the window seems to be outside of the medium line. The rivets corrode away and the windows, if not fixed soon, will just fall outside the building. When we report a broken window, meaning corroded rivets, the trustees tell us that we must fix and pay in full for the repair of our windows. I thought that we had to share the cost 50% each, but on reading previous posts it seems that as the opening pane of the window is outside of the medium line, the body corporate must repair the windows at its cost. Please confirm that my interpretation is correct.
As you know, the provision in the Act is that the median line runs directly through the centre of any door or window in the exterior wall of a section. This means that the entire window installation, including the window frame and all the moving parts that may be affixed to it are the co-responsibility of both the body corporate and the relevant owner. In my view, it is artificial to try to subdivide a window installation into its individual components and, for example, to suggest that one party or the other is solely responsible to maintain the rivets. This is my approach because, firstly, the type of damage you describe arises from the state of the exterior environment and, secondly, because of efficiencies of scale, the body corporate should take the lead in inspecting and maintaining window installations and that it should recover from the individual owners a half share of the cost of any work done. When an owner or occupier draws to the body corporate’s attention a maintenance issue in regard to such a window installation, the body corporate should check this as well as any other windows that are likely to be similarly affected and carry out any necessary repairs.
Financial statements not audited
We received a copy of the body corporate financial statements (32 units in the scheme), however, these were not audited as prescribed for in the Act. They were just signed for by an accounting officer. We engaged the trustees in this regard and, 9 days later, we received a copy of the signed minutes, confirming that the management rule in respect of the auditor was amended to allow for the body corporate to use an accounting officer only, dated back to March 2010. To my knowledge, a special general meeting (14 days prior notice) had to be held and a signed resolution was to be obtained, prior to any rules being amended, thereafter, these are to be lodged at the deed office.
Yes, management rules can only be changed by a unanimous resolution of owners, but this does not have to be taken at a meeting. It can be done in writing if signed by all owners at the time. If the amended rule is filed at the Deeds Registry, I suggest you treat it as valid.
Article reference: Paddocks Press: Volume 7, Issue 5, Page 4
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