January 10, 2017
Sectional Titles was introduced to the South African legal system in 1971 with the introduction of the first Sectional Titles Act, 66 of 1971, which act was later replaced by the current Sectional Titles Act, 95 of 1986 (STA). The current act stays in place as far as the registration of schemes are concerned and remains under the jurisdiction of the Department Rural Development and Land Reform.
However, the management part of the current act is now repealed and replaced by the Sectional Titles Schemes Management Act, 8 of 2011 (STSMA), which act was proclaimed to commence on 7 October 2016. This act should also be read with the Community Schemes Ombud Service Act, 9 of 2011 (CSOSA). (The latter is applicable to all Community Schemes and not just Sectional Titles.)
Purpose of the act:
To separate the provisions of the STA that pertain to registration and survey matters from those that pertain to governance and administration.
What is new?
Among others, some of the significant or interesting changes that influence the daily lives of Sectional Title owners and occupants can be summarized as follows:
The act distinguishes between the Administrative and Reserve Funds of the Body Corporate. The Body Corporate must establish and maintain an Administrative fund reasonably sufficient to cover the estimated annual operating costs of the scheme and must be used for this purpose in accordance with the approved budget and trustee resolutions.
One of the most significant changes in the STSMA is that a Body Corporate must now establish and maintain a Reserve Fund, reasonably sufficient to cover the costs of future maintenance and repair of common property, but not less as such amounts that may be prescribed by the Minister. At this point it is suggested that it will be required to set aside 25% of the budgeted annual levy figure.
10 year Maintenance, Repair and Replacement Plan:
The Body Corporate must prepare a written maintenance, repair and replacement plan setting out the following:
- Major capital items expected to require maintenance, repair and replacement within the next 10 years.
- The present condition or state of repair of those items.
- The time when those items will need to be maintained, repaired or replaced.
- The estimated costs thereof.
- The expected life of such items before costs is expected to be incurred.
- Any other information that may be relevant.
Payment of levy to the Community Schemes Ombud Service:
In terms of CSOSA all community schemes are now obliged to make a contribution to the Chief Ombud in the form of a levy. The levy is calculated at 2% of the amount by which the monthly levy exceeds R500, but is capped at a maximum of R40 per month. The levies must be collected by the Community Scheme and paid over to the Ombud quarterly as from January 2017.
The making available of rules:
A complete copy of the rules must be filed at the Chief Ombud at all times where it will be available for inspection. The act specifies certain instances where rules must be made available to owners or occupiers of a scheme. A copy of the rules must be handed to each new owner or occupier of a unit. An owner must in this regard also notify the Body Corporate of any change of occupancy of a unit.
Approval of Change in Rules:
Any change in the prescribed management or conduct rules by unanimous or special resolution, must first be approved by the Chief Ombud.
Definition of Primary Section vs Utility Section:
The act distinguishes between a Primary Section, a section designed for human occupation, and a Utility Section, a section which is designed to be used as an accessory to a primary section.T
his definition is relevant in certain provisions in the act, such as voting at meetings, where the act refers to the owners of primary sections or participation quotas of primary sections only.
Proxy not allowed for more than 2 persons:
The act now provides that a person may not hold more than 2 proxies at an Annual General Meeting. The reasoning for this limitation is said to be to make AGM’s more democratic and preventing one person to dominate at such meetings.
Trustees may now attend meetings by electronic means (such as Skype) and are then considered to be personally present. Trustees may also put a matters to the vote, by notice sent to all trustees which trustees may approve the resolution by signing such a notice before the closing date of such notice.
Cognisance must be taken in this regard of the provisions of CSOSA where it provides for the duties of a “Scheme Executive”, which includes the obligation to attend all meetings unless excused in writing by the Chairperson.
Annual General Meetings:
AGM’s must be held within four months from the end of the financial year, which now runs from 1 October to 30 September, unless otherwise resolved.
The obligation to hold an AGM also falls away, in the event that, within at least one month before the end of the financial year, all members in writing waive the right to meet and consent in writing to motions that deal with all the items of business that must be transacted at the AGM.
Insurance policies must cover the buildings and common property and must specify a replacement value for each Unit and Exclusive Use Area. The Body Corporate must obtain a replacement valuation of the all buildings and improvements every three years and present such at the AGM.
The Body Corporate must take out Public Liability Insurance for an amount not less than R10 Million as prescribed.
Executive vs Ordinary Managing Agent:
An ordinary Managing Agent may still be appointed to perform certain specified financial, secretarial, administrative or other management services under the supervision of the Trustees.
The act now provides for the appointment of an Executive Managing Agent to perform the functions and exercise the powers that would otherwise be performed by the trustees, subject to certain conditions.
Appointment of Administrators and rescue provisions:
The act makes provision for instances where a Body Corporate has either fallen into financial trouble or has become ungovernable in which instance an Administrator may be appointed to assist in the rehabilitation of the Body Corporate.
This is by no means a complete list of the changes and innovations of the new act and owners and/or occupiers of Sectional Title Schemes are urged to educate themselves in this regard. The Chief Ombud is said to start implementing training programmes and make material available to the general public which may prove very helpful in this respect.
Mariette van Zyl | Director