The maintenance of windows in sectional title schemes (especially those that are near the sea and prone to rust) has long been a contentious issue. Whether they are the responsibility of the unit owner or the body corporate has always been subject to debate.
Michael Bauer, the sectional title expert and the general manager of the sectional title management company IHFM, said recently that previously the Sectional Title Act specified that any items inside the median line drawn through the middle of the unit’s outer walls was the full responsibility of the owner, while any items outside that line was the full responsibility of the body corporate. If it was placed on the median line the responsibility was shared. Window frames, said Bauer, can be either on the median line, inside it or outside it - “which of course means that the whole matter of their maintenance was bound to lead to controversy”.
Now, said Bauer, the new Sectional Title Amendment Act, about to be promulgated (Provision 5,5 (a)) will make all window maintenance the joint 50/50 responsibility of the owners and the body corporate irrespective of the window’s actual location in relation to the median line.
This new amendment, added Bauer, will be especially helpful in those cases where the responsibility of payment was unclear. For example, window frame deterioration on the weather side of the building far exceeded that on the protected area but where, nevertheless, all members have had to pay for their repair or replacement. Those on the protected side might feel hard done by.
“It has to be admitted,” added Bauer, “that after 50 years’ exposure to a salt-laden atmosphere almost any steel window will need replacement - hence the swing in coastal districts to aluminium.”
The cost of window replacement, he added, can be ‘astronomical’.
Bauer warned trustees that wooden frames, too, need regular maintenance. He recommends re-varnishing all outfacing wood once a year.
Michael Bauer is a regular contributor to www.sectionaltitlesa.co.za. For further information on IHFM’s services go to www.ihfm.co.za or telephone Michael Bauer on 083 255 4442. He can also be emailed on email@example.com.