Written for YourProperty
A reader has approached the Property Poser experts with concerns about the unusual use of an exclusive use area in her sectional title complex.
The reader resides in a block of flats and one of the floors was designed to allow domestic workers to reside or sleep over in the building. The rooms on this floor are small as they are intended for single-person use and not necessarily as permanent residences.
Over time, it seems that the partners and children of the domestic workers have moved into the rooms, leading to overcrowding and potentially unsafe living conditions.
These rooms form part of the exclusive use areas of the units concerned. The reader worries that she, as a unit owner with an exclusive use area, will be liable for the associated costs and any legal or other transgressions that may result from such usage.
According to Schalk van der Merwe from Rawson Properties in Somerset West, Cape Town, the Sectional Titles Act deals directly with the cost aspects applicable to the use of an exclusive use area.
Van der Merwe says the Act provides that a body corporate is required to establish a fund from which claims against the body corporate can be satisfied.
Those section owners entitled to the right to the exclusive use of a part of the common property – whether or not such a right is registered or conferred by the rules under the Act – will be required “. . . to make such additional contribution to the fund as is estimated necessary to defray the costs of rates and taxes, insurance and maintenance in respect of any such part or parts, including the provision of electricity and water, unless in terms of the rules the owners concerned are responsible for such costs”.
With the overcrowding potentially violating health and safety laws, the manner in which these areas are being used is arguably of more concern to the reader, says Van der Merwe.
Grant Hill of Miller Bosman Le Roux Attorneys in Somerset West says the body corporate could also intervene and, where applicable, either apply or establish rules relating to the use of these exclusive use areas.
“The Act is also of some assistance, as an exclusive use area must be used solely for the purpose shown on the registered sectional plan and not in ways that may harm the reputation of the building or contravene any conditions of title applicable to the attached section.”
It may be useful for a meeting to be called to address these concerns, particularly of those to whom this scenario applies, says Hill.
“The meeting should address the issues and a plan must be made to correct the situation in a manner that would result in the most expedient and harmonious solution.”
Hill says this may include the eviction of the additional persons from the exclusive use areas and that the rules applicable to evictions should be followed.
“Taking steps earlier rather than later could avoid any possibly harmful incidents with possible negative effects for the body corporate and section owners.”
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On behalf of:
Rawson Properties Helderberg & Miller Bosman Le Roux Attorneys