In a recent article I explained some of the differences between freehold title and sectional title ownership. There have been a number of court cases relating to the “extension of a section” by an owner which highlight another major difference between the two types of ownership.
If the owner of freehold property wishes to do alterations or “extensions” to the buildings on his property, he need not (as a general rule) obtain the consent of his neighbours. Such an owner need only submit building plans to the Municipality for approval. Once the plans have been approved, the owner may proceed with the alterations.
However, the owner of a sectional title unit who wishes to extend his section must obtain the approval of the body corporate.Such approval must be authorised by a special resolution of the members of the body corporate (every owner is a member of the body corporate). A special resolution can be obtained in two ways: 75% of all members of the body corporate (owners) must agree to the extension in writing; or a special general meeting must be held regarding the owner’s application to extend his section. In order for the extension to be approved at such a meeting, the owner requires at least 75% of the votes of all owners voting at the meeting (either personally or by proxy). If the necessary approval is obtained, a sectional plan of extension must be drafted by a land surveyor or architect and submitted to the Surveyor General for approval. The plans can only be submitted to the Surveyor General when construction of the extension has reached an advanced stage.
The owner commences building after approval of the extension by the Body Corporate and the Municipality.
As a general rule, a sectional title owner does not require the consent of the body corporate to do internal alterations in his section; provided the alterations do not extend to the “boundaries or floor area” of the section. The question of what constitutes the extension of a section has also been the subject of litigation. In general terms, the extension of a section takes place when an owner extends the “boundaries or floor area” of the section. In one court case relating to this issue, the owner did alterations which comprised the closing-in of an arch so as to provide a door and window, coupled with the provision of a roof over portion of a previously unroofed courtyard. The court held that this did not amount to an extension. However, each case must be judged on its own facts.
If an owner wants, for example, to build on a garage or an enclosed entertainment area, this would definitely constitute an extension of the section and the approval of the body corporate would have to be obtained.
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