Useful tips for repairs and maintenance

Please note that this guideline is merely to assist the Trustees when making decisions regarding the repairs and maintenance of the scheme, very often a precedent has been set with regards to some issues, and these, as long as they are both reasonable and within the ambits of the Acts, may be applied in future cases.

Remember that when making decisions the Trustees are setting precedents all the time.

Each case should be based on its merits, and the Trustees are often required to use their discretion when deciding how to go about a particular task, and how the costs thereof will be allocated. There are many 'grey' areas when dealing with Sectional Title schemes and the differences between owner and body corporate costs.

The Body Corporate’s obligations in general:

The body corporate is responsible for the repairs and maintenance and upkeep of common property.

All pipes, ducts, wiring etc. for the common property, or which services more than one unit must be maintained by the body corporate.

The Owner’s obligations in general:

The owner must maintain and keep in good state his section.  He must also keep neat and tidy any part of the common property to which he has a right (i.e. exclusive use areas – such as gardens, patios, balconies, parking areas, garages etc.).

The owner is responsible for the costs and remedy of all damages to his section, however, if the damage is caused as a result of an external factor, then the owner may have a claim against another owner and or the body corporate. 

Note:

Trustees should be wary of involvement in disputes between owners. Such matters should be referred to the Ombud, via CSOS.  The body corporate does however get involved if the costs of repair of the damage of the affected section is claimed via the body corporate insurance policy.

Specifics:

Window Frames:

The costs of replacement/repair is generally split on a 50/50 basis between owner and body corporate.  If the repair/replacement to the frame is as a result of owner’s negligence, then the body corporate could refuse to pay half the costs. By the same token, if the repair/replacement is as a result of the body corporate’s negligence, then the owner could refuse to pay half of the costs.

This is where the question of precedence is very important. Some schemes have resolved that owners replace/repair their windows at their own expense.

Suggestion: It is often best to stick to the 50/50 split, as often negligence is difficult to prove.

Window Panes:

This is almost always a cost for the owner. There are a exceptions, but they are few and far between.

Broken panes as a result of an insured event are often not worth claiming for, as the cost of the excess outweighs the cost of replacement. In many instances where panes are broken as a result of wind, the owner did not properly close or tighten the window.\

Suggestion: It is best to adopt a policy of owners pay for panes and frames are split on a 50/50 basis.

Geysers:

The Act points out that if a hot water installation services only one unit then the maintenance of that installation is for the owners’ account. But having said that geysers are also fixtures.

Geysers are, more often than not, included in the insurance policy as they are fixtures. 

All insurance policies differentiate between burst and leaking geysers (the same rule applies for all water, sewerage and drainage pipes too).  Any consequential damage caused as a result of either a leaking or a burst geyser is covered under the insurance policy.

If a geyser bursts, the owner may claim from the insurer, and will be liable for the excess, which may be determined on the age of the geyser (on a sliding scale).

Arguments often ensue regarding excesses, but the answer is that if a member is claiming, he’s likely due to pay an excess.

Suggestions:

If a geyser bursts:

  1. Get the owner to have a new geyser installed
  2. Claim from the insurer
  3. Claim for any consequential damage, if applicable
  4. Get the owner to pay 100% of the excess in terms of the claim

If a geyser leaks:

  1. Get the owner to have the geyser repaired
  2. Claim for any consequential damage, if applicable
  3. Check if geyser repair is covered by the insurance policy, if not the owner covers the costs of repair
  4. The owner pays the excess of the consequential damage, if applicable

Replacing geysers prior to them bursting or leaking is for the owner’s own account.

Doors:

All internal doors are to be repaired and maintained by the owner.

Doors leading on to the common property from any section forms the median line and thus the cause of the damage/repair must be determined, in order to determine liability and responsibility.  If same cannot be determined, it may be an idea to apply the 50/50 rule and may be attended to on the same basis as windows.

Suggestion: External doors should be replaced/repaired on a 50/50 basis, and this includes doors to common property or to exclusive use areas, unless the rules, specifically, state otherwise.

Trees:

All trees on common property to be maintained/removed by the body corporate.

Trees in exclusive use areas to be maintained by the owner enjoying the rights to that area, but removal (as the roots are actually in common property) should, in effect, be removed by the body corporate.

Remember that removal of trees does interfere with the harmonious appearance of the scheme and should only be done if necessary.

Regular or routine maintenance that should be undertaken by Trustees:

Annual:

  • Rain gutters: Inspect for secure fastening and clean out
  • Roofs and Flashing: Inspect and repair
  • Water Heaters: Inspect, drain and descale
  • Fire Extinguishers: Inspect and recharge
  • Smoke Alarms: Inspect and test battery
  • Storm Drains: Inspect and clean
  • Lawn Sprinklers: Inspect, test, replace heads, and reset timers
  • Exterior Doors: Inspect weather stripping, thresholds, hinges, door closers and locks
  • Parking Lot: Inspect for cracks and potholes
  • Balcony and Stairwell Railings: Inspect for secure fastening
  • Exterior of buildings: Inspect for wood rot, loose or damaged trim, paint deterioration and loose or damaged sidings
  • Audit of the lifts, if applicable, by the service provider
  • Tree trimming
  • Drain/stack pipe cleaning and clearing of roots that may damage the drains

Quarterly:

  • Swimming Pool: Inspect filters and pumps, oil and adjust
  • Exterior, Common Area and Signage Lighting: Inspect and adjust timers or photocells.
  • Pest control
  • Servicing of the electric fence, including removing/cutting back vegetation that may damage the fence

ALWAYS REFER TO THE REGISTERED RULES AND SECTIONAL PLANS IF UNSURE!