IMPORTANT CONSIDERATIONS WHEN BUYING A HOME IN A SECTIONAL TITLE SCHEME WITHIN SOUTH AFRICA

Buying a sectional title property in South Africa involves a unique set of considerations, as specific laws and regulations govern these schemes such as the Sectional Tiles Act & the Sectional Titles Schemes Management Act.

Here are some key things to consider when buying a sectional title property:

  1. Exclusive Ownership: You have full ownership of your unit or section, which is limited to the interior of your apartment or townhouse. Exclusive use areas, which are registered as such and connected to the unit, remain part of the common property but the owner has the exclusive right to use such area (such as a garden / parking / garage).

 

  1. Managing the scheme: The management and administration of the sectional title scheme are typically the responsibility of a body corporate, in which all the property owners within the sectional title scheme are members. Trustees are appointed to make decisions relating to the day-to-day management of the body corporate. Managing agents assist Trustees with the management of the scheme (collecting of levies / payment of disbursements / insurance, etc).

 

  1. Review the Rules: Each sectional title scheme has its own set of Conduct Rules. These rules regulate what you can and cannot do within the scheme, covering aspects like pet ownership, noise levels, and property alterations. You must make yourself aware of the content of the Conduct Rules before purchasing a sectional title property.

 

  1. Levy and Financials: Sectional title schemes require owners to pay levies to cover the costs of maintaining common areas, security, and other shared services. Review the financial statements of the scheme to ensure its financial health and the reasonableness of the levies.

It is important to note that the rates and taxes for the unit and exclusive use area are NOT included in the levies – it is a separate account with the City Council.

 

  1. Insurance: Sectional title schemes have a collective insurance policy for the building’s structure, but you need separate insurance for your unit’s contents. It is important to verify the details of the insurance policies in place for the scheme.

 

  1. Additions or Extensions: An owner is prohibited from making external additions to or extending the size of his unit without the prior written consent of the Trustees and/or Body corporate. Only after the written approval is given, may the owner proceed to draft amended building plans which must be approved by the Council. Amended Sectional Title plans must be drafted and registered in the Deeds Office to reflect the new extended size of the unit.

 

  1. Additional costs when purchasing a sectional title unit: When purchasing a unit in a sectional title scheme, a levy clearance certificate must be obtained from the Body Corporate. The Managing Agent will issue the levy clearance figures and subsequently, the levy clearance certificate.  A fee is levied for the issuing of the above, the costs of which are for the purchaser’s account.

 

Should there be an exclusive use area to be ceded to the purchaser, additional costs will be payable to the conveyancer for the Notarial Deed to transfer the exclusive use area.

 

There are slight differences between Sectional Title Scheme Units, Duets, and Full title properties, which are summarised in the table below:

 

FULL TITLEDUETUNIT IN A SCHEME
Owns the stand and improvementsOwns only the square meters of the unitOwns only the square meters of the unit
Has the right to the allocated exclusive use areas
Has full usage of the ERFHas full usage of the ERF (even if there is no exclusive use area registered)Has usage of common area but is regulated by rules & regulations
Allowed to make changes to the exteriorAllowed to make changes to the exteriorNot allowed to make any changes to the exterior without consent
Responsible for full maintenanceResponsible for full maintenanceOnly responsible for maintenance of the inside of the unit
Pays rates, taxes, sewerage, rubble removal to the CouncilPays rates, taxes, sewerage, rubble removal to the CouncilPays rates and taxes concerning only the unit to the Council
Needs to have insurance for the  structureNeeds to have insurance for the structureNo additional insurance of structure – included in levies
Needs approved building plansNeeds approved building plans + updated sectional title plansNot allowed to make any structural changes without the consent of the body corporate.  Needs approved building plans + updated sectional title plans

 

We strongly recommend that you engage with a Conveyancer who can guide you through the legal processes concerning any property-related matter.

As South African property laws and regulations can change, it’s essential to stay updated and seek professional advice when necessary.  Burden Swart & Botha Attorneys have an experienced, competent, and friendly conveyancing team that can answer questions, review legal aspects of your contract, and assist with the transfer of your property.