Going Solar?

“Greening” a property or building not only seeks to improve sustainability and reduce costs, but also seeks to reduce the property or building’s carbon footprint. However, rules apply when dealing with any addition to the common property of sectional title schemes, of which the roof is part.

Sectional title schemes are not only blocks of flats, but may also include semi-detached as well as detached houses or townhouses.

Either way though, before anything may be installed on the roof, in most cases this is common property, the written approval of the Trustee’s must first be sought.

The Trustees, in turn, whilst they should not unreasonably withhold permission, do have to consider the affect, if any, on the harmonious appearance of the scheme, as well as the future maintenance of the equipment and the potential damages to the roof structure once installed. Other aspects such as weight of the panels, pitch of the roof, waterproofing, insurance, desirability etc., all need to be considered.

Owners who do not obtain written permission, and proceed to installing solar panels may find themselves in front of the Ombud or even faced with an order of court to remove same.

We have found that trustees are more inclined to approve photovoltaic (PV) systems, to that of the older technology, and, for the most part, point blank decline solar geysers.

Once (if) approved, the owner should also be ware that keeping the equipment in good order will then become their responsibility, not that of the body corporate, and that this onus is passed on to his or her successors in title.

Trustees of blocks of flats, i.e. with roofs that are shared and, often, barely visible to the residents, have a similar set of criteria to consider, however, the visual impact is less than in schemes made up of single or double storey houses. Here the trustees need to consider the desirability, maintenance and return on investment, as well as infrastructural requirements.