Sectional title corner – your burning questions answered
My question (on behalf of several neighbours) is that we have a particular unit where there have been three previous owners with whom we’ve never had any problems. However, the new owner raised the patio earlier last year quite considerably and now, because his head is over the wall, he wants to raise the wall by three feet.
The wall is NOT a dividing wall, but fronts onto the common area walk/driveway. We are a small sectional title complex of 30 units with walls approximately 10 feet high, so we would have one unit now with walls 13 feet high and some of the residents feel it will spoil the aesthetics of our surroundings.
In fairness, he has advised us of his intentions, but hasn’t actually asked for permission. Please could you perhaps advise what our rights are? – A Cooper
I will have to see the sectional plans of the scheme to be able to answer directly. But in general you get different scenarios. One is where the gardens and the walls are common property with no exclusive use rights given to any owners. In such a case, the wall belongs to all owners (in undivided shares) so in order for the owner to raise a wall he would have to get permission from all owners. If it was an exclusive-use area the trustees would have the authority to give such permission. There is, however, as you mentioned the harmonious appearance rule – it is in Prescribed Management Rule 68(1)(iv):
- (1) In addition to his obligations in terms of section 44 of the Act, an owner
(iv) shall not do anything to his section or exclusive use area which is likely to prejudice the harmonious appearance of the building;
So the trustees will have to take this into consideration before giving permission. I do, however, want to play devil’s advocate: Did he get the proper permission to first raise the patio?
Again we will have to look at the sectional plans – if the patio forms part of his section he could have done so – and again the trustees would have to apply the harmonious appearance rule.
If the patio is, however, common property without any exclusive-use rights linked to it he would have had to get permission from all owners. If it is an exclusive-use area trustee permission should be sought.
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Who is Karien Coetzee?
Karien Coetzee is the national property management consultant at property management company, Trafalgar. She holds qualifications in sectional title schemes management and homeowners association management.