One of the fundamental rights of property ownership is the right to control who comes onto your property. But like many other rights, this right is limited. Officials of the local municipality, Telkom technicians and of course the police may enter your property against your will, under the right circumstances. Additionally, in sectional title schemes, the right to control access to your property is limited in two particular ways.
Modern buildings have facilities for the passage of services contained within the building, unlike older buildings, where one can observe water and waste pipes and electrical conduits attached to the outside of the building. The Sectional Titles Act makes provision for the passage of communal service-carrying pipes, wires, cables and ducts through sections as well as the common property.
Every section has servitudes for the passage of pipes, wires, cables and ducts. This means that they can pass through the building inside the boundaries of the sections. All owners benefit from these servitudes and, equally, are not entitled to prevent this passage. Included in these servitudes is the right of section owners to have access to every other section in order to maintain and repair the pipes, wires, cables and ducts when necessary. Fortunately, this right is not to be exercised by the individual owners, but only by the body corporate, through technicians with access that is authorised, in writing, by the trustees. Trustees may only authorise this access for reasonable times and with reasonable notice, unless an emergency situation occurs.
The second limitation on section owners’ right to control access to their sections, is the right of the body corporate, in the form of the trustees or a person authorised by them in writing, to enter a section to make sure that the provisions of the Act and rules are being observed. The same requirement for reasonable times and notice applies.
Life in a sectional title scheme is a continual balance between the benefits of an ordered, convenient and safe environment, and the sometimes intrusive and restrictive obligations that come along with it. It is in everyone’s best interest to make the small sacrifices necessary to maintain this balance.
Written by Anton Kelly (Paddocks)
Article reference: Paddocks Press: Volume 7, Issue 10, Page 1