If you are an owner of a Sectional Title Unit in a Sectional Title Scheme you are subject to more rules and regulations than you might be aware of.

What is a sectional title unit?

When you buy into a sectional title complex, you purchase a section or sections and an undivided share of the common property. Your section together with your undivided share in and to the common property are collectively known as a unit. A full title property, on the other hand, describes the transfer of full ownership rights when you own a property, which includes the building and the land it is built on.

The rules and regulations

Owners of property in a Sectional Title Scheme are subject to the rules and regulations of the Body Corporate and these rules and regulations are governed by the Sectional Titles Act, Act 95 of 1986 (“the Act”).

Section 5(4) of the Act states that the boundaries of each section are the centre lines of the walls, floors and ceilings that surround it. Each Sectional Title Scheme has a sectional plan which is permanently filed in the Deeds Office where the said Scheme is registered, and these plans are available to the public for inspection. Extensions to a unit include any alteration to your unit which increases its:

  1. Boundaries
  2. Floor area.

As soon as you extend the boundaries of your unit, you as the registered owner, will be required to comply with section 24 of the Act, which regulates the extension of a unit. Section 24(3) of the Act stipulates that an owner must first obtain a special resolution of the Body Corporate authorizing his proposed extension before he is allowed to affect the alterations.

You will have to obtain plans for the proposed alterations drawn up by a qualified architect. This is to ensure that the necessary municipal regulations are complied with. These plans will then have to be submitted to the respective local authority by the architect to have it approved. It is important to ensure that a new occupation certificate for the unit is issued by the local authority as well.

When the building plans are drawn up and approved, you will have to instruct a Land Surveyor to, in addition to your building plans, draw up a Sectional Plan of Extension of your respective unit. The Sectional Plan of Extension indicates your unit’s new size measured in square metres. This change will then need to be registered in the Deeds Office to ensure the existing sectional diagrams are replaced with the new sectional plan of extension of a unit and accurately captured and recorded in the Deeds Registry.

The Land Surveyor will also indicate your unit’s new participation quota as the participation quota is likely to have increased due to the extension. The participation quota is based on the floor space of the individual unit within the sectional scheme and is used to calculate the levies due. If your extension causes a deviation of more than 10% in the participation quota of any unit in the scheme, then you will also need to get the consent of the mortgagee of every unit in the scheme. The Land Surveyor will issue a certificate confirming whether the extension caused a deviation of more than 10% in the participation quota or not. If the scheme applicable is situated within a large scheme where many units are bonded, it can cause a substantial delay as all the consents of the applicable bond holders will have to be obtained.

Lastly, the conveyancer will lodge an application in the Deeds Office to extent the unit, and upon registration, the owner’s title deed and mortgage bond (if applicable) will be endorsed with the new extent of the section.

The consequences of not following this procedure are serious for owners as they are likely to cause extensive delays if they ever would want to sell their unit in the future as well as the fact that illegal extensions can downgrade a building and increase the risk of insurance claims not being paid out.