DUET HOUSING: What you should know
Duet homes usually comprise of two houses attached to each other and sharing a common wall, erected on one erf. All duet properties are, or at least should be, sectional title units which are administered and regulated by the Sectional Titles Act, the Sectional Titles Schemes Management Act and the Community Schemes Ombud Service Act.
We often have clients who are unaware that a duet home is not a normal freehold property which could lead to unwanted challenges or issues. Some of the issues we have encountered in practice are the following:
- Common property versus exclusive use areas: If the sectional plan does not specify and demarcate the front lawn/garden, for example, as exclusive use area, the front lawn/garden will be common property. This means that all owners in the sectional scheme will own an undivided share in that property and are co-owners. It often happens that an owner of a unit improves the property, by installing a swimming pool for example, only to find out afterwards that the improvement was done on common property.
- Additions, extensions, improvements to a sectional unit: Unlike conventional title where the only requirement is to have your amended plans approved by the local counsel, the amendment of a sectional title unit could be much more complicated and costly. If you increase the boundary or floor area of your unit, the body corporate will have to give its consent, you will have to instruct an architect to amend the building plan and you will have to instruct a land surveyor to amend the sectional plans. The amended sectional plans must also be registered at the relevant deeds office. Also, if the extent of the addition to your unit surpasses a certain size, all mortgagees in that sectional scheme will have to consent thereto.
- Body Corporate: A Body corporate comes into existence, automatically, in terms of the Sectional Titles Act with the first transfer of a unit in the sectional scheme from the developer to a new owner. All owners of units in the scheme are members of the body corporate. The Body Corporate has certain responsibilities prescribed by law, but owners of duet homes rarely realise this, let alone comply with all the legal requirements.
Based on the discussion above, it is evident that dealings with sectional title units is a highly specialised field which is best kept for the professionals. We at Rauch Gertenbach have the necessary legal expertise to assist in all Sectional Title Matters. Kindly contact us with any queries in this regard and avoid any of the above unwanted challenges and/or issues.