Advice and Opinion

Neglecting business park common areas will negatively impact sales

Ibis House at Century City, landscaped and planted with indigenous vegetation.
Ibis House at Century City, landscaped and planted with indigenous vegetation.

Citing cost constraints as a reason to neglect common areas in a sectional title business park is short-sighted and could have negative effects on the value of individual units and their selling price, says property sales and management veteran Jonty de la Porte.

De La Porte, who has specialised in the Montague Gardens, Milnerton and surrounding area for the past 20 years says selling or buying a sectional title property, particularly in a business park, is never about the unit alone. “The condition of the entire property, its infrastructure, maintenance and the greening and landscaping of the common areas will be a determining factor in the value of individual units“, he says.

Sounding a warning to commercial and industrial business park trustees and owners’ associations, De La Porte said that with changes in the Sectional Title Act last year, owners and trustees had an even greater obligation to maintain the entire property. Body Corporates have, by law, to create a reserve fund to cover the cost of future maintenance and repairs to common property.

He says the first requirement in terms of the current legislation is that all sectional title schemes must have a ten-year maintenance plan, which must be approved at the Annual General Meeting (AGM).

I have advocated this providence for many years but many BCs and owners have resisted putting a suitable reserve fund in place. This has created a danger for owners of individual units who could well face unaffordable special levies when a crisis occurs. Now, the legislation makes it obligatory to provide for maintenance and repairs“.

The neglect of water saving measures would also haunt sectional title owners, who, as a sector that is responsible for some of the highest consumption of water in the Cape, should ensure that every effort was made to preserve water resources. Individual water meters and rainwater storage tanks were among the very necessary ways to ensure water conservation.

Referring to the landscaping and greening of common areas, he said trustees should resist the temptation to pull out trees out and do away with garden beds. “Trees and gardens add value to Business Parks and even industrial parks. They have a very positive effect on occupancy levels, rentals and property values. Aesthetically pleasing landscapes and trees are valued by high-end tenants, as their working surroundings reflect on the standing of their business. Shabby, bleak surroundings create a poor impression and discourage potential tenants. Adapting the landscaping for low water consumption could include drip irrigation, as well as indigenous trees, shrubs and ground covers“.

Simply drilling a borehole or well-point is not the answer to a consistent water supply says De La Porte – it is only a matter of time before the City of Cape Town (CoCT) puts a stop to the practice. “Ground water cannot be extracted at whim. It’s not an endlessly available resource and is vulnerable to complete depletion“.

In other words, it’s up to the management and owners of units in communal industrial or commercial parks to practice corporate citizenship, to both preserve the value of their properties and conserve essential resources“.