Advice and Opinion

Recent power outages highlight need property managers to reassess risks

In light of the power outages experienced over the weekend as a result of the Majuba power station collapse, and the new load shedding schedule, David Rebe, CEO of Sandak-Lewin Property Trust, urges property managers or body corporates of residential developments to ensure that the necessary contingency plans are put in place so that tenants are equipped accordingly when outages occur. “With the new load shedding schedule in place, it is necessary for body corporates to evaluate each facility within the development that relies on electricity to ensure that residents are prepared for the various challenges that come with power cuts, such as inoperative security booms and alarms, electric gates and lifts within the development.

Rebe says that there are not many buildings higher than three storeys that don’t have a lift. He highlights lift failure as a major concern which body corporates need to ensure they are prepared for. “Lifts can be very costly to fix. Furthermore, tenants can get stuck in a lift, or worse get injured as a result of lift failure.”

He states that power outages can result in security breaches. “Security gates and booms can malfunction if the power is cut, leaving the complex vulnerable to trespassers. Moreover, no lighting within the complex during a power outage can also pose a safety threat to tenants. Therefore the need for physical security barriers such as burglar bars and security gates on apartments doors and windows must seriously considered by owners.”

Rebe says that in order to avoid issues such as this, body corporates and property managers should consider installing a back-up generator to ensure that these issues are handled in the event of a power outage. However, he says that in many complexes the problem is that the cost of generators is as high as R500 000 and that kind of cost is too excessive for some body corporates to pay. Moreover, he says that in some cases there may not be a designated or safe area for a generator to be stored on the common property.

Furthermore, Rebe says that the body corporate should alert tenants of scheduled power cuts, and highlight what facilities will not be available or working when the electricity supply is switched off, for example, electrically motorised security gates and garage doors, lifts, alarm systems, electrically heated water supplies, appliances etc.