Welcome amendments to the sectional title act and regulations.

When the Sectional Titles Act 95 of 1986 (“the Act”) amendments came into effect on 7 December 2010, one welcome change to the Act related to how the boundaries of a section are defined that provided clarity for sectional title managers and sectional title owners.

Although the Act has always been clear that the boundary between sections is the median line of the dividing floor, wall or ceiling that separates those sections, there was uncertainty as to the ownership of windows, doors and other structures.

Section 5(5)(a) was amended so that the boundaries of a section were defined

“by reference to the floors, walls and ceilings thereof, or as may be prescribed: Provided that any window door or other structure which divides a section from another section or from common property, shall be considered to form part of such floor wall or ceiling”.

The effect of the amendment was that the inner half of all windows, doors and other structures form part of the section, while the outer half will form part of the common property.

Practically it was a welcome change – it meant that the maintenance of such windows, doors or other structures is shared between the owners of the adjacent sections or between the sectional owner and the body corporate 50/50.

The Sectional Title Regulations issued under the Act (“the Regulations”) were recently amended and came into operation on 28 October 2011.

Another notable and welcome change to the Regulations is Regulation 5 which introduced the median line concept into the definition of an exclusive use area so that the common boundary between an exclusive use area and a section or common property is, in the case of physical features “the median line of the dividing floor, wall, ceiling, fence or other similar feature” unless the boundaries have been described in a different manner on the sectional plan.

Although the amendment clarifies sectional managers and owners as to the maintenance obligations in respect of that exclusive use area, the amendment can also be criticised in that it is not extensive enough – it does not clarify that the median line concept applies to exterior doors, windows and other structures in the exclusive use areas walls and ceilings in the way that section 5(5)(a) has made this change with respect to sections and therefore uncertainty as to this aspect remains.