deadline looms for sectional title owners

Mary Papayya

Mary Papayya

The deadline is looming for sectional title homeowners to pay rates directly to the municipality, says legal property expert Sifiso Msomi, of Shepstone & Wylie Attorneys.

"It's critical to obtain your property's final valuation and to know the exact amount you need to pay as failure to pay rates can result in the forced sale of your property by the municipality to recover the money owed," he says.

"Previously, rates were included in the levy payment and were collected by the body corporate. However, as of July 1, it will be the responsibility of the municipality to collect the rates."

As a sectional title owner, you not only buy a unit but also an interest in the common property, such as stairways, foyers, lifts, driveways, gardens, swimming pools and security.

"You are responsible for maintaining your own unit, while control, management, administration, maintenance of the complex and common property are the responsibility of the body corporate."

He said all registered owners become automatic members of the body corporate, which is the collective name given to all the owners of units in a particular complex.

Owners of a house have to pay rates and taxes, insurance, electricity, water and maintenance. In a sectional title scheme, these costs of maintaining the common property are paid out of a pooled fund to which all owners contribute by paying usually a monthly (or annual fee) called a levy, to the body corporate to cover the immediate and anticipated future costs incurred in running the complex, he said.