Body corporate repairs and maintenance

One of the many benefits of living in a sectional title scheme is the advantage of seeing maintenance and repairs being done without you needing to organise it yourself or even knowing what is being done and why.

Most owners in sectional title schemes purchase their units and know that they will be paying a levy every month to the body corporate. However, most of the time they are totally oblivious of what this levy is or how it will be used. The total annual budget determines the levy payable by each owner and the majority of this budget is made up of maintenance items so majority of levies paid by owners will be used for this purpose.

Who organises the repairs and maintenance and who performs the maintenance?
Each body corporate has a board of trustees. Normally, each trustee on the board of trustees is allocated a specific portfolio that is their responsibility. The most common portfolios are financial, maintenance and communication. The trustee tasked with maintenance will therefore be responsible for overseeing any maintenance and repairs required in the complex.

It is important to note that the Sectional Title Act is very clear that the trustees are responsible for the maintenance and upkeep of the common property of the scheme. Assistance will be provided to the trustees by the body corporate’s managing agent and this may involve obtaining quotations for various projects that need to be completed. The trustee in charge of maintenance will need to assess the quotes and get approval from the other trustees to proceed.

The trustees have an annual budget against which they incur expenses on behalf of the body corporate. Any special or unexpected expenses that were not originally included in the annual budget may have to be referred to the rest of the owners in the scheme depending on any restrictions that have been placed on the trustees. Generally, this is not the case as it may hamper the work of the trustees.

What about maintenance inside the units?
Maintenance inside the units are not included in the responsibilities of the trustees, unless damage has been caused to an owner`s apartment by something in or on the common property. A typical example is damp or a leaking pipe or stack pipe that is causing water ingress in an apartment. Owners are not always aware of this or may not be sure where the problem originates from. The managing agent will normally instigate an investigation and based on a report from an independent contractor, be able to advise an owner if the repairs are their responsibility.

Pick your trustees carefully
Maintenance plays a very big part in the functioning of the body corporate. A lack of ongoing maintenance will lead to increased maintenance costs at the financial expense of all the owners. A strong board of trustees that performs their duties as required in the Sectional Title Act is always advised. Owners need to ensure that they vote for owners as trustees who are capable of performing their duties in this regard. Long term planning with regards to maintenance is essential to extend the building standard owners have invested in.