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Sectional title corner – When trustee approval is enough


Hi, we requested permission to alter the existing steel-framed double door and adjacent window frame in our section. We wish to replace the existing setup with three aluminium stacking doors and a narrower, longer window frame split into three windows. The existing door and window is made up of multiple smaller panes which was the subject of the discussion as the new setup deviated from the existing style.

The request was put to the Trustees together with a rough picture showing the before and after effects (as shown on the manufacturer’s website). The request was agreed to by the trustees with a single dissenting vote by the treasurer.

What happened to the harmonious appearance rule?  

The fact is that aluminium sliding doors had been used in replacing the same doors and window in another unit. The argument was that although it did set a precedent that was done before “we” bought into the complex. The “we” being the existing set of long term owners (mainly the treasurer and an ex-chairman of about 12 – 13 years) and “influencers” of recent trustee bodies.

Nevertheless, armed with permission (noted in minutes), we went ahead with planning, knocking out existing bathrooms, kitchen and carpets. Just before ordering the new door we were advised to stop because after having spoken to the ex-chairman the treasurer said we needed approval of the whole complex because it involved common property (the outer part of the doors and window).

So does that require a special resolution or a unanimous resolution?  He said a special meeting needed to be called. No indication yet of the agenda. The way I read the new act all that’s required is written approval of the trustees. In addition the garden is a walled-in area and registered as an exclusive use area. A casual passer-by would need to be tall and stretch on their toes to look over the wall to observe the different door/window. The added benefits are no painting required, a far better sealing of doors and window virtually eliminating air and dust blowing in, far more light in the lounge, all of which no doubt would increase the market value. If this issue eventually went to the ombudsman, what would the likely outcome be?  Do we in fact need body corporate approval?

I look forward to your views and advice – Claude


Hi Claude, since you are not encroaching on the common property, no resolution is required. If you wanted to enlarge your living area, which would reduce the size of the common property, then the approval of the other owners would be required. A decision by the trustees is sufficient for the intended improvements.

We suggest that you request the board of trustees to put their motivation for their latest decision in writing referencing the part of the act which they based it on.

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

This question was answered by experts from the Central Developments Property Group and facilitated by communications manager Alda Erasmus

central developments

Who is Alda Erasmus?

Alda Erasmus, Cosmopolitan Projects and Central Developments Group communication manager

Alda Erasmus, Cosmopolitan Projects and Central Developments Group communication manager

After obtaining an honours degree in Corporate Communication from UJ, Alda spent 11 years living and working in the USA, the Netherlands and the UK in the financial software industry. She joined the Cosmopolitan Projects and Central Developments Property Group in 2010. Since then Alda has worked with all the divisions in the Group, including human resources, land development, project management, construction, marketing and property management.


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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  • Cristel 15th August 2017

    I just would like to know if you bought a house in a sectional title complex 2 years ago with an aircon already fixed (was done years ago) on the outside wall facing the road where this was approved at that time. Buty now the trustess and managing agent wants to inforce about 9 houses to lower the outside unit at a cost for you, is this seen as fair as the house was bought after the installation and with the transfer into your name can they now make you take the costs and move this aircon outside unit? I do feel that this is unfair as we have a tree there where they want us to lower aircon. Why should we carry the financial burder for Trustees mistakes.