Advice and Opinion

Understanding the basics of sectional title

Prior to 1973 according to common law in South Africa it was not possible to own part of a building but over the last forty years legislation has evolved and has been amended a number of times to allow for sectional title ownership.

This has created a new dimension in owning and management of properties under this sort of ownership, says Johann le Roux, executive director of Propell. It allows a person to buy a property of their own without having the full responsibility of managing a property in its entirety and also, because one larger property is split into smaller sections, the cost of ownership tends to be lower.

Because sectional title property is the fastest growing type of property ownership in South Africa at present, with a community of approximately one million individuals, it is important to manage the system with a sense of responsibility to be able to reap the numerous benefits and keep it stable, he said.

There are many disciplines involved in running a sectional title scheme, which include project management, accounting, construction, horticulture and law, says le Roux, and various skills will be needed to fulfil roles within the body corporate of a sectional title scheme. Some of these include the ability to plan, solve problems, organise, delegate, be diplomatic, deal with human resources, run or handle meetings and negotiate on behalf of the scheme.

While it is impossible to fill all these roles, he said, doing the best possible to learn as many of these will stand you in good stead as a trustee.

The practical skills needed to manage and understand the finances of a body corporate are important, he said, and because of this, Propell runs regular financial management workshops for trustees (via schemes’ managing agents) so that there is access to the education and tools necessary to help them run their sectional title schemes successfully. These are usually small groups, five to ten people at a time, to maximise on the time spent by giving them an intensive educational session, said le Roux.

“Education and then implementation of what they have learnt is key to the success of their sectional title schemes, and it then makes the managing agents’ and our jobs easier to do,” he said. “The performance of the body corporate could possibly improve and the financial situation of the scheme should be healthy if all the steps taught are followed.”

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