Duet sectional title schemes need clear rules

Many owners in sectional title want to exploit the potential of their properties by adding a second dwelling or by subdividing if the property is large enough.

You could raise the building by one or more storeys, depending on what the municipality will approve.

“You can rent out the additions, or, if the property is too small for subdivision or the extension is vertical, you can create a duet sectional title scheme and sell the new portion off as a section,” said Anton Kelly of Paddocks, Rondebosch.

Mr Kelly is not a lawyer but he has had 11 years’ experience in the sectional title industry and is the course leader for Paddocks.

A sectional title scheme is one with only two sections, the minimum allowed by the Sectional Titles Act (STA).

But there are some important points to consider when developing a property as a duet sectional title scheme.

“The new duet scheme will be subject to the STA and the Sectional Titles Schemes Management Act, (STSMA), and its prescribed rules.

The problem is that sectional title schemes and the management provisions in the legislation are designed for shared use, shared responsibility, and democratic decision-making by many owners.

“However, the two owners in duet schemes invariably want to be independent of each other. Some conflict is almost unavoidable.

Fortunately, most of the problem areas are provisions of the management rules, which can be changed,” Mr Kelly said.

The second point is the physical layout of the duet scheme.

Views from the windows, access to the property, parking, water and electricity reticulation, and entertainment areas need to be as separate as possible, both to accommodate the owners’ desire to be independent and the application of the necessary rule changes.

“There are some provisions of the STSMA, such as the requirement that the body corporate insure the building, and some practical realities, such as municipal supply of only one water and sewerage connection per property, that are unavoidable restrictions on separating the management processes of duet schemes so that the individual owners can take care of their own affairs, but a suitably tailored set of management rules can take care of most potential problems,” Mr Kelly explained.

Property owners considering extending their properties and developing a duet scheme should obtain the advice of an architect who has some experience of designing sectional title buildings in the area.

That professional will know the local municipality restrictions and regulations that apply to sectional title schemes, and understand how to design the building to avoid sharing of infrastructure.

They should also instruct a sectional title specialist attorney to draft rules that suit the specific requirements of the duet scheme.

The attorney will also be able to give valuable advice on how to set up the scheme, both physically and from a management and administrative point of view, based on their experience in advising other duet scheme owners.

Visit www.paddocks.co.za for more information.

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