By Anton Kelly
Anton KellyThe prescribed rules made under the Sectional Titles Act are quite specific that section owners are not allowed to interfere with the common property.

Prescribed management rule 68 prohibits owners from making alterations that impair the use of the common property and prescribed conduct rule 4 prohibits owners from damaging the common property by putting in nails, screws and the like. However, the rule goes on to say that this must not be done without the written consent of the trustees, implying that under certain circumstances, the trustees may consent to owners making small additions or attachments to the common property. The usual example is attaching a DSTV dish to the common property wall outside a section but owners also seek permission to build walls between garden areas, erect carports over parking bays and so on.

One has to remember that most schemes are residential and it is their homes that such owners seek to make more comfortable and convenient by making these additions. TaUCT Sectional Title Scheme Management courseking into consideration their duty to look after the long term good of the scheme, the trustees should accommodate such reasonable requests where they are able.

But what should trustees do when owners make small – or not so small – additions or attachments to the common property without first getting the trustees’ consent?

The first thing the trustees should do is attempt to separate the real issue – what has been added or attached and its effect on the scheme – from the cheek of the owner daring to make the alteration without asking first. There is no room for taking personal offense; it just muddies the waters.

If the addition is, in the considered, objective opinion of the trustees, reasonable and acceptable the owner concerned should be encouraged to make the relevant application for its proper authorisation. If not, the trustees must act quickly to get the addition removed. They may not themselves remove or knock down the addition unless they do so – avoiding a physical confrontation – when the owner is just beginning the work, but they may do everything reasonable, including seeking help from the court, to get it removed as soon as possible.

Here are three factors trustees must consider in deciding whether the addition is reasonable and acceptable:
1.    It must be in accordance with the provisions of the Act and the rules in force at that scheme.

2.    The trustees must consider the long term effects on the scheme and its members.
3.    The trustees must consider what the effect of the addition would be if all owners in the scheme were to make it.

This is a very sensitive area of scheme management and if the trustees are at all unsure about consenting to an application for an addition or alteration to the common property they should refuse but place the issue on the agenda for the next general meeting. The owners can then make a guided and informed decision and, if it is approved, make a conduct rule laying out general specifications for the addition or alteration.
Article reference: Paddocks Press: Volume 7, Issue 6, Page 1

Anton Kelly is one of the course conveners of the University of Cape Town (Law@Work) Sectional Title Scheme Management course. For more information please contact Emma on or 021 447 4130.

This article is published under the Creative Commons Attribution license


  • Chairman
    13/02/2016 21:13

    I am a recently elected trustee that has inherited a number of unauthorized additions, large and small, but one in particular is a carport area of a section (on the common property) that has been enclosed to make a room. And I have some questions relating to rectifying this:

    1) Are we required to pass a resolution at an AGM or special meeting to act against the owner to remove the addition and restore this to its original state?

    2) What would be the operational procedure to initiate the process? (A letter detailing the breach, with a time requirement to rectify it before the body corporate affects the changes and invoices the owner / takes legal action? Is there a template for such a notice in writing?)

    3) Will the owner be responsible for the cost to restore the area to its original state?

    Some additional info:
    The approval of the addition retrospectively is not an option as it has been done in such away that it would not receive BRA approval from a municipality as it encloses sewage pipes, meters, and does not have adequate ventilation. It is also not structurally sound with regard to the walls supporting the roof and risks collapsing.

    Please help?


    • Paddocks
      18/02/2016 11:22

      Hi there,

      As it seems impossible to authorise the carport retrospectively, the body corporate must take whatever steps are reasonably necessary to rectify the situation. The body corporate is obliged to ensure compliance with any law affecting the common property or improvements to the land. A properly worded and referenced letter is the obvious first step. Please contact for help.


  • Graeme Manne
    20/02/2018 14:07

    Good Day
    I have a problem, where the previous owner of my ground floor flat (sectional title) had built an illegal wall in the exclusive use garden/courtyard area, this is now become my problem and the trustees have issued me with a letter instructing me to demolish it at my own cost.
    What are my rights in this instance?

    • Paddocks
      09/03/2018 15:32

      Hi Graeme,
      Thank you for your comment. We would love to help but unfortunately do not give free advice. Here’s how we can help:
      – We offer a Free Basics of Sectional Title 1-week short course. You’ll be able to ask your course instructor any related questions. Find out more here.
      – We offer consulting via telephone for R390 for 10 minutes. Please call us on +27 21 686 3950.
      – We have Paddocks Club, an exclusive online club, to help you get answers to your questions about community schemes. Find out more here.

      Kind regards

  • Princess
    27/03/2019 14:59

    Good Day,

    I am a section owner and the managing agent of the estate has suddenly removed the communal dish and required all unit owners to install their own dstv dishes. After such installation the agent subsequently advised that the dishes will be removed with no notice as no permission was granted to install same.

    Is there anything we can do as without the dishes we have on access to tv at all as ordinary cable does not work with the standard wall fittings (dstv plug and play).

  • Loren Kotze
    25/11/2019 12:16

    good day, after 9 years of permanent residence in a complex in a unit which i own, the body corporate has decided to tear down my garden walls as they say its communal property. my question is this, they have granted me permission in writting to keep my small dog which now is an issue as the walls are needed so my dog wont run away. i cant keep the dog indoors the entire day. the walls were already erected when i bought the unit. please help? can i fight this?