Advice and Opinion

Buyers should check the plans in sectional title schemes before investing

Home For Sale Generic

When a buyer is interested in a particular unit in a sectional title scheme, he will often inspect the unit, ask the agent if there is parking or a garage and possibly ask about the amenities offered within the scheme, and accept the answers given in good faith.

“What happens, however, if there are slight discrepancies in what the buyer thinks he is buying and what is laid out in the sectional plan?” says Mandi Hanekom, operations manager of sectional title finance company Propell.

The sectional plan is the information pertaining to sections and their numbers as well as the common property and exclusive use areas. There will be two sheets within this plan, the Title Sheet and the Block Plan.

The Title Sheet states the scheme’s name, its location, the deeds registry and surveyor general numbers and identifies the buildings. It should also list the exclusive use areas and whether the developer reserved the right to add to the scheme in the future. The second sheet is the Block Plan, which will indicate the general layout of the scheme, where the boundaries are and where the exclusive use areas are. There might also be floor plan sheets, which will show each section within the scheme and parts of sections as well as common property, such as walkways, stairwells, service areas or parking bays. The last is the sheet that lists the participation quota schedule – this is an important sheet as it determines each owner’s share of the levies.

“It is important for buyers to ask to see whether the plan sheets correspond with the unit number they are buying, as it has been known to happen that there can be mistakes in the unit numbers and corresponding exclusive use areas or parking bays and garaging. These mistakes can creep in when amendments were made to sections or plans without amending all the corresponding paperwork”, said Hanekom.

“If there have been physical changes made to any units in the scheme, the sectional plan must be amended accordingly. Because changes to sections are often owner driven, it is the owner’s responsibility to get the scheme authorisation, deal with the municipality, appoint someone to prepare and submit the amended plan and appoint a conveyancer to deal with the registration of the newly approved plan – this is possibly why some changes might not correspond with what is on paper”, she said.

Buyers should also check whether the developer has reserved the right to develop further in the future, as what they might think is a large open green area, might become additional units later, or they might think that the scheme is fully established to find that there will be building disruptions in the near future.

“It is wise to check (and double check) documents to prove that areas do in fact belong to the unit being sold before signing an offer to purchase”, said Hanekom.