To extend or offend: Can you extend your sectional title unit?

29 May 2024 159
Owning property in a sectional title scheme requires the sharing of certain spaces with other owners. These shared spaces are typically the common property of the scheme and can be defined as the land or buildings in the scheme which do not form part of any owner’s unit. But what if a unit owner wishes to extend their unit? Can the owner do so and extend their unit onto the common property? In this article, we explore the options available to the unit owner.

Common property represents the shared ownership vested collectively among all sectional title owners in a scheme. This shared ownership in the common property highlights a communal responsibility and mutual interest in the maintenance and preservation of specific areas integral to the sectional title scheme as a whole. 

A body corporate therefore has a responsibility to ensure that an owner does not make alterations to his unit that will likely impair the stability of the building or interfere with the use and enjoyment of the common property by other unit owners. 

Obtaining approval: The process and requirements
For any unit owner to extend their unit, the body corporate must, on application by an owner and upon special resolution by the owners, approve the extension of boundaries or floor area of a section in terms of the Sectional Titles Act. Failure to obtain the required special resolution will render the entire process null and void. 

Once the necessary approval has been obtained from the body corporate, the next step will be to request an architect or land surveyor to submit a draft sectional plan of the extension to the Surveyor-General for approval. Finally, an application will have to be made to the Registrar of Deeds for the registration of the sectional plan of extension. 

Legal considerations and potential implications
It is crucial to note that the body corporate has to control, manage and administer the common property for the benefit of all owners. It also needs to ensure compliance with any law relating to the common property or any improvement of land forming part of the common property. Accordingly, if a proposal is made and meets the necessary requirements, approval may be granted. However, it is not guaranteed or a given that the proposal will be approved, and a body corporate may impose conditions or refuse the request altogether.

In summary, while it is possible to expand your unit onto the communal property, without a specific resolution endorsing such an expansion, any such action would be considered unauthorised. A carefully prepared proposal to the scheme body corporate and which aligns the request with the necessary requirements is therefore vital.

If you're considering such an extension, we recommend reaching out to our Property lawyers for assistance. They can help you discern the applicable requirements and guide you in crafting your request to the body corporate.

Disclaimer: This article is the personal opinion/view of the author(s) and is not necessarily that of the firm. The content is provided for information only and should not be seen as an exact or complete exposition of the law. Accordingly, no reliance should be placed on the content for any reason whatsoever and no action should be taken on the basis thereof unless its application and accuracy have been confirmed by a legal advisor. The firm and author(s) cannot be held liable for any prejudice or damage resulting from action taken on the basis of this content without further written confirmation by the author(s).
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