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Body corporate not responsible for everything

I would like to stay on the issue of the responsibilities of body corporates a little longer.

Sectional-title properties are popular with a widespread of the property-owning people.

Many of them buy into this market because they have less direct responsibility for the maintenance and management of their buildings.

But some owners try to stretch this to the limit.

In essence, the body corporate is responsible for the management of the common property.

This includes any areas of the building that do not form part of individual units in the building or complex.

In simple terms, the inside of your flat or townhouse is for you to look after.

But many owners of sectional-title units seem to think that the body corporate should get involved in everything. 

Typical would be a water leak from the flat above that leaks into the flat below.

What is happening is that the water is flowing from the flat above directly into the flat below.

The leak does not involve any part of the common property at all.

What should happen is that the two owners need to get together to sort out their problem.

The damage caused is not an insurance claim because it is a maintenance problem – in this case, the shower pipe was blocked and water found a way between the two units.

Yes, the managing agent will assist by giving the owners each other’s contact details, and maybe recommending a plumber or handyman, but it is not their responsibility to sort the problem out.

Don’t be surprised if the managing agent asks you for a fee for becoming involved in the situation. 

A typical hourly charge for sorting out the problem would be R800. 

For them, getting involved is time consuming and they end up being bad friends with both owners.

The one with the shower outlet does not believe that there is a leak and the one below has a constant flow of water and damage to the ceiling.

Neither party will be happy with the managing agents.

No, apart from bringing the two owners together, they have no further need to get involved – and shouldn’t get involved.

It might sound a bit hash, but recently, I had one owner writing me nasty letters because we had not forced the owner above to fix his leaking shower.

Not only that, when they start with one problem with their neighbours, it quickly escalates to a whole history of complaints about everything and everyone.

Not only that, instead of writing to the portfolio manager, he is now copying me, the office manager, the other portfolio manager, all the trustees and the rest of the world – simply wasting their time when the portfolio manager can manage his problems in a business-like manner.

No, the managing agents and trustees are not responsible for everything.

  • Mike Spencer is the founder and owner of Platinum Global. He is also a professional associated property valuer and consultant with work across the country as well as Eastern Europe and Australia. 

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