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Duet houses: Sectional Title or not?

Many of our clients live in Duet Houses, but are under the impression that they are not bound by the Sectional Titles Act.  This is not the case.  Duet Houses, as any Sectional Title Scheme, are strictly administered by the Sectional Titles Act, Act No. 95 of 1986.

We encounter serious delays in Property Transfers, as a result of owners not being aware of this fact and not being aware of the effect it has on their ownership.  In some instances, we even find that the wrong Units are registered in the name of the wrong owner, or, alternatively, that the Local Authority is charging the one owner for the Rates and Taxes of the other.  When purchasing a Duet House, or even a Sectional Title Unit, it is therefore imperative to check that your “Unit” is correctly described in terms of the Sectional Plan for the Scheme (even if the Scheme only exists of two Units).

duet houses

A second delay that is regularly encountered is where owners of a Duet House proceeded to extend their buildings, without also changing the Sectional Title Plans and therefore the description in the Deeds Office.  What is important to note here is that, should you reside in a Duet House, then, and in that event, when building onto your Unit, the following will be needed:

1.       Consent by your neighbour as co-member of the Body Corporate;

2.       Building Plans, duly approved by the Local Authority;

3.       Revised Sectional Title Plans, once the building is constructed; and

4.       An Application at the Deeds Office for the extension of your Unit and the changing of Participation Quotas.

The Sectional Plan of extension of the extended Unit will then be filed at the Deeds Office and reflects the correct position.  If this was not done, and you intend selling your Unit, you will run the risk that the Valuer of your Purchaser’s Financial Institution will pick up the discrepancy in the size of the Unit and decline such Loan Application.

With a Duet House all of the areas outside your section (living space) comprise common property (garden, drive ways, security fencing, access gate, etc.) according to the Sectional Plan.  Accordingly, both unit owners have joint liability, responsibility and use of these common property areas.  It is necessary to receive clarity as to your rights and responsibilities concerning the use, maintenance and/or upkeep of these common property areas and/or amenities and it is advisable to approach your neighbour and to amend the Management Rules of your Scheme in order to create exclusive use areas in terms whereof you agree to the exclusive use of certain areas of the common property and to individual or joint maintenance responsibility of these areas.

Article by Ona Nell

EY Stuart Attorneys

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