Parking space is at a premium in most Sectional Title schemes, so it is not unusual for additional parking bays to be created on common property, says Andrew Schaefer, MD of leading national property management company Trafalgar*.
“The Sectional Titles Act provides for this and there is usually no argument when such a move is proposed by the trustees. Problems can and do arise, however, when it comes to the allocation of the extra bays, with some owners wanting exclusive use of certain bays near their sections, and others preferring to keep all the bays as parts of the common property and let them to raise additional funds that benefit all members of the body corporate”.
“In addition, there can be a certain amount of confusion about what to do with a parking bay built on common property when the owner who has been using that bay decides to sell his unit.”
Addressing the first issue, he says that Trafalgar has found that the fairest solution is generally for the body corporate to create a rental pool with the additional parking bays and allow owners to lease them on an annual basis.
“Letting of common property in this way is covered in Section 17 of the Act, and such a system also means that the body corporate receives a steady income from the parking, because any bays that go vacant can immediately be re-let to other owners that need them. If necessary, the trustees can even create a waiting list.”
Turning to the second question, Schaefer says that owners who are renting parking bays on common property should note that they are usually not allowed to cede any lease for those bays to anyone else – including the new owner of their unit should they decide to sell.
“One frequently sees advertisements for sectional title properties for sale which state that the unit comes with the use of one or two parking bays. However, if the current owner is renting the bays from the body corporate, these will in all likelihood have to go back into the parking pool and be let to the next person on the waiting list”.
“In most cases owners are not entitled to just hand over parking spaces to their buyers, even if they have been renting those spaces for years and have come to think of them as their own. And they certainly cannot include them, or the right to use them, in their sale agreement”.
“Indeed, the only time that a unit owner can sell a parking bay is if it is an exclusive use area in terms of the plans, and we advise anyone who is buying a sectional title unit and being asked to pay for such a space to first confirm that this is actually the case by referring to the sectional title plan.”