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Sectional title corner – Who has to fix my collapsing ceiling boards?

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Q

Hi, I am a single lady and have no knowledge on the law of townhouse complexes. I bought a townhouse in a complex three years ago: At that time, the townhouse was two years old and the ceilings were in a perfect condition.

However, I have noticed that the ceiling in my main bedroom is now collapsing. I asked the managing agent for his help in this regard.ceiling boards

He responded by asking me what caused the ceiling to collapse. I don’t know so I requested him to send out an assessor to assess the damage and then advise accordingly. However, he still ignored my pleas.

At last our managing agent responded yesterday morning by saying he doesn’t “think” it is his responsibility to fix as this is inside my house. The Eskom Finance Company, however, informed me that if you turn your house upside down, everything fixed is insured by the body corporate.

My complex is right next to Fourways Mall where there are major building works happening and blasting of dynamite which (I think) could have been the cause. However, I cannot confirm this.

Is the ceiling in the unit covered by body corporate insurance and, if so, surely I need to be assisted by the body corporate? – Kobie

A

Hi Kobie, with regard to ceiling boards many factors can cause them to warp and/or collapse. Indeed the cause of the damage is the first step to ascertain.

Should the property have been purchased with ceiling boards that were not correctly attached to the rafters, then in most bodies corporate the owners have been advised to take the matter to the NHBRC should the complex still be young enough for recourse against the developer.

With blasting on adjacent property is it likely that the ceiling boards are coming loose, but this is not the fault of the body corporate. You can check this by getting someone into the roof to check that the boards are secured to the roof trusses with long enough nail heads. They may suggest an additional support beam to which to attach the boards.

Should the ceiling boards be warped due to weight caused by water, you would then have to ascertain the cause.

  • Is there a roof leak causing water to collect on the ceiling boards? If so the body corporate must repair the roof leak and put a claim in for the resultant damage to the ceiling boards.
  • Is there a geyser leaking? If this is the case the geyser needs to be repaired and a claim put in for the ceiling boards.

A good start would be for you to get a contractor in to confirm the cause of the damage. Once this is confirmed you can take the relevant action to repair and/or claim from the body corporate, depending on the cause.

For your own protection I would advise that you request a full copy of the insurance policy. Then call the insurance directly and ask for a contact of one of the maintenance providers on its panel.

It would be worth your while to get a professional opinion from one of the approved contractors so that should it be entertained by the insurance you would have already followed procedure.

Usually the managing agent would assist with this process, but it would appear you are not going to get the assistance required.


Got a burning question? Email mariette@hometimes.co.za and we will be sure to assist you


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PetraAnswered by Petra Lewis, portfolio manager at Belmont Property Management

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ungerermariette@gmail.com

Mariette Steynberg is a qualified economist with a post-graduate diploma in financial planning. She has enjoyed working on holistic financial plans for clients in various stages of life, as well as a development economist assessing the socioeconomic impacts of new developments. When she is not working, Mariette enjoys parenting her quirky, delightful toddler girl. Cloth diapering, Eskimo kisses and the importance of reading to your child are all causes close to her heart. Mariette is passionate about financial education and hopes to use the experience she has gained to share knowledge with HomeTimes’ readership. Her goal is to provide information that is implementable by everyone.

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1 COMMENT
  • Louise 4th July 2017

    The Managing Agent’s duties may be restricted in respect of their Contract.

    I agree, it’s the responsibility of the Owner to do the necessary investigation, not the MA. The MA is not in the position to appoint Contractors.

    What-ever is discovered should be reported to the Trustees for a decision. If the Owner appoints someone to investigate and obtains a report, that can then be submitted to the Insurance for a possible claim.

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