A reader requested to be advised on the issue of maintenance of pipes within the buildings of a Sectional Title Scheme.
Section 37(1)(j) of the Sectional Titles Act, No. 95 of 1986 (hereinafter referred to as “the Act”) requires a Body Corporate to maintain and repair the common property and the trustees are duty bound to ensure that such maintenance and repair work is conducted in a proper and workmanlike manner, failing which they are in breach of their fiduciary duties.
The powers and functions of a Body Corporate, such as the maintenance of common property, are exercised by the trustees. Generally speaking, maintenance to common property normally includes the painting of the building/s, roof repairs, repairs to the perimeter fence, lift/s and entrance gate and every now and then maintenance to the plumbing (pipes) which can be a costly exercise.
I was recently informed by a Chairman of a Body Corporate that the trustees obtained a quotation for the replacement of the pipes in their Body Corporate that are in dire need of replacement, which quotation was in excess of three million rand.
Sections 37(1)(o) and (p) of the Act specifically deals with the issue of maintenance to pipes. If the pipe is part of the section, in other words within the median line, it is the owner’s responsibility, unless the pipe serves more than one section or the common property, in which event the Body Corporate would be liable for the maintenance thereof.
If the pipe is located outside the section, in other words on the common property, the Body Corporate must maintain and repair it, even if it only serves one section.
In terms of the provisions of Section 5(4) of the Act, the common boundary between any section and another section or between a section and common property is defined as the median line of the dividing floor, wall or ceiling as the case might be.
Therefore establish the location of the pipe and whether it forms part of the common property, in which event the Body Corporate would be liable for the maintenance and repair thereof, or whether it forms part of the section. If it forms part of the section and only serves that section, then the owner of that section is responsible for the maintenance and upkeep thereof, but if it forms part of the section and serves more than one section, then the Body Corporate is responsible for the maintenance and repair thereof.
Izak du Pisanie
EY Stuart Attorneys