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Here’s how to settle sectional title insurance disputes

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I own and live in a flat in a sectional title development. I bought and renovated it approximately three years ago, and every six months I had water oozing through the tiles in my en-suite bathroom. Thinking it was my fault I have had plumbers come and go. Earlier last year I had a leak detector company come in and detect the leak and it was discovered the problem stemmed from an outer body corporate pipe. This leak damaged my wooden floors in my bedroom and the cost of the plumbers was enormous. There was an insurance claim put through via the managing agents (small property administration) once in June and then again in November, and both times my claims were rejected. Please advise me on how I should recover the money I have spent on fixing a problem that was not mine.


On the face of it the unit owner could have a claim against the body corporate but it’s difficult to give a definitive answer without looking at all the facts. The best option (assuming agreement between body corporate and the unit owner can’t be reached) would be to contact the newly formed Community Schemes Ombud Service which has jurisdiction over sectional title disputes. Alternatively, there are attorneys which specialise in these types of matters. One firm in particular is Paddocks in Cape Town which is known to be the leading experts on sectional title law in South Africa.

Generally, leaking pipes are not covered by insurers due to the fact that damage occurs gradually over time and not due to “sudden and unforeseen events occurring at an identifiable time”.

Community Schemes Ombud Service


Words: Douglas Haig is the MD of CIA, a leading underwriter for sectional title properties


David A Steynberg, managing editor and director of HomeTimes, has more than 10 years of experience as both a journalist and editor, having headed up Business Day’s HomeFront supplement, SAPOA’s range of four printed titles, digimags Asset in Africa and the South African Planning Institute’s official title, Planning Africa, as well as B2B titles, Building Africa and Water, Sewage & Effluent magazines. He began his career at Farmer’s Weekly magazine before moving on to People Magazine where he was awarded two Excellence Awards for Best Real Life feature as well as Writer of the Year runner-up. He is also a past fellow of the International Women’s Media Foundation.

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