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  • Natalie Smith

What is a Sectional Title, as a form of ownership?

Sectional Title is a form of property ownership described as sections or units that are built within a larger complex. These units can be flats, townhouses, apartments, or semi-detached houses. These units are individually owned and the costs of the maintenance of these individual units is the responsibility of the owner. The common property, however, is the responsibility of all owners and all owners pay a share in the maintenance and upkeep of this common property, of which owners have an undivided share and use of. The Body Corporate is responsible for managing the Sectional Title Scheme and this Body Corporate is made up of all owners of the scheme. Once someone becomes an owner of a section they are immediately and automatically a member of the Body Corporate. However, the Body Corporate elects Trustees and appoints a Managing Agent to manage the scheme on their behalf, which will include budgets, annual financials, ensuring levies are paid, insurance for the Scheme, ensuring all owners abide by the rules of the Body Corporate and ensuring the Scheme is in compliance with the Sectional Titles Act. Advantages of Owning in Sectional Title Living in a Sectional Title complex gives residents a greater sense of community which many people enjoy. The communal life can make owners feel more secure, but the perception of complex life is that it is more secure & this is often the case, as opposed to living in a free-standing home. There is often far better perimeter security in a complex as well as twenty-four hours guards and good entrance security and access procedures. Building maintenance, upkeep of the grounds and maintenance are shared between owners. You do not have to mow your own lawn or clean your own pool as these services are included in what you pay in levies each month. Sectional Title Schemes become a cost-effective option for homeowners and are often a good starting point for first time buyers to get into the property market. Some complexes have added amenities such as gyms, running tracks and on-site restaurants, which are a fantastic addition to owners’ lifestyles and convenience. If a scheme is well run, financially sound and well maintained it would be an excellent investment for any potential home owner; price increases have shown to be more in sectional title schemes than free standing homes and as such make a sound long term investment. Disadvantages of Owning in Sectional Title When owning is a Sectional Title scheme you are not in total control; in other words, you will not have a say over all aspects of the complex as you would if you owned a free standing home. Further, you do not have complete control over your own home. For example, you will need to have permission granted to renovate areas of your unit. And you will need to follow the Body Corporate rules, whether you agree with these or not, in terms of communal areas, the number of pets allowed and movement of young children in the complex. You must be sure that you can abide by these rules and live within the constraints of having these rules enforced. Lastly, all owners are jointly liable for the debt of the Body Corporate, which can be quite daunting. Therefore! When assessing a sectional title complex ensure you look at the following: - Is the complex financially sound - Is the complex well run - What is the insurance cover of the complex? - What are the monthly levies (be sure to understand any added costs or special levies)? All potential (and current owners) need to consider all aspects of the pros and cons of buying and living in a Sectional Title Scheme before making the long-term commitment.

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