In the vibrant landscape of property ownership in South Africa, sectional title schemes have become increasingly prevalent, offering individuals the opportunity to own a unit within a multi-unit complex while sharing ownership of common property. While this arrangement fosters community living and shared responsibility, it also gives rise to a unique set of legal challenges and disputes.

At the heart of sectional title living lies the Sectional Titles Schemes Management Act 8 of 2011 (hereinafter ‘STSMA’) and its accompanying regulations, which govern the establishment, management, and administration of sectional title schemes. This legislative framework provides the foundation for resolving disputes that may arise among owners, trustees, and managing agents within these schemes.

A common source of sectional title disputes revolves around maintenance responsibilities and the use of common property. Section 3(1) of the STSMA defines common property as areas within the scheme not designated as sections, including but not limited to corridors, stairwells, and recreational facilities. Disagreements may arise regarding the maintenance, repair, and improvement of common property, as well as the proper utilization of shared amenities. In such instances, the STSMA empowers the body corporate, comprising all owners within the scheme, to make decisions through general meetings and to enforce compliance with its rules.

Furthermore, disputes may emerge concerning the enforcement of conduct rules within the scheme. Section 35 of the STSMA grants the body corporate the authority to establish conduct rules governing the behaviour of owners and occupants within the scheme. These rules may address issues such as noise levels, pet ownership, and the use of parking spaces. Disputes may arise when an owner or occupant violates these rules, necessitating intervention by the body corporate and, if necessary, legal recourse through the Community Schemes Ombud Service (hereinafter ‘CSOS’) or the courts.

Another area of contention in sectional title disputes relates to financial matters, including levies, special contributions, and the management of the scheme’s finances. Section 3(1)(a) of the STSMA mandates the establishment of a body corporate to manage the scheme’s finances, which may involve collecting levies from owners, preparing annual budgets, and maintaining adequate reserve funds for future expenses. Disputes may arise over the allocation of expenses, the calculation of levies, or the mismanagement of funds, necessitating careful scrutiny of the scheme’s financial records and adherence to statutory requirements.

Sectional title living offers numerous benefits but also presents challenges that require adept legal navigation. As a leading law firm, we are dedicated to assisting our clients in resolving sectional title disputes effectively and efficiently. By leveraging our expertise in property law and our in-depth understanding of the relevant legislation, we strive to protect the rights and interests of our clients within the dynamic landscape of sectional title schemes.

Should you require assistance with a sectional title dispute or seek guidance on matters related to property law, we invite you to contact our knowledgeable team for personalized legal advice and tailored solutions. Together, we can navigate the complexities of sectional title living and ensure that your rights as a property owner are upheld.