Extending a Section in a Duet Sectional Title Scheme – Property Law Update

By Barbara van Rooyen, Partner in the Property and Conveyancing team

There are a substantial number of “duets” in Richards Bay.  A duet sectional title scheme is normally formed when a property is too small to be subdivided, but is large enough to accommodate two dwellings.  Each dwelling is a free-standing home, set in its own garden with its own access.

What many duet owners don’t realise is that they are part of a sectional title scheme and, accordingly, are bound by the provisions of the Sectional Titles Act and the Sectional Titles Schemes Management Act.  The provisions of these Acts are almost never complied with and many duet owners don’t know what their rights and obligations are.

When an owner of a duet house wishes to extend his/her home, this must be done in accordance with Section 24 of the Sectional Titles Act.  The following is required:

1. Consent by your neighbour as the co-member of the Body Corporate;
2. Building plans which must be approved by the Local Authority/Municipality;
3. Once the extension has been constructed, amending sectional title plans must be drafted by a land surveyor and approved by the Surveyor General’s Office;
4. Thereafter, a conveyancer must be appointed to deal with application to the Deeds Office for the extension of the unit and the amendment of the participation quota, during which process your title deed gets endorsed to reflect the increase in the size of your unit.

Owners of a duet house which has been extended often only realise that they need to comply with items 3 and 4 above once they sell their property and valuer appointed by the purchaser’s financial institution picks up the discrepancy in the actual size of the unit in comparison to the title deed.

The financial institution may decline the purchaser’s loan application for this reason, alternatively the financial institution may insist that the extension of the unit is recorded in the Deeds Office prior to or simultaneously with the transfer of the property and the registration of the mortgage bond.

If the purchaser is prepared to continue with the sale, the process that must be followed can delay the transfer of the property by a few months while waiting for the amending sectional plan to be approved.

Furthermore, if the extension of the section has resulted in a deviation of the participation quota of more than 10%, it is necessary to notify all bondholders in the scheme of the extension, giving them 30 days within which to object to the extension.  This also causes delays with the transfer.

Other complications (for example, if the extension was not built in accordance with the approved plans and the owner had to apply to the Municipality for a relaxation of the building line) can delay the transfer by up to 18 months!

If you are an owner in a duet scheme and you have extended your unit, consult with a conveyancer to ensure that you comply with the Sectional Titles Act.

If you would like more information on the above contact:

Barbara van Rooyen on 035 780 7250 or vanrooyen@wylie.co.za