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  • Writer's pictureJacques van Rooyen

Breaking down The Steps to get Solar Installation Approval for your Community Scheme

Updated: Jan 19

House with Solar Panels

INTRODUCTION


Many sectional owners are considering alternative and renewable energy solutions like solar panels to minimize the effect that load shedding has on their households. A common question, therefore, being raised by sectional owners is whether they are allowed to install solar panels at their sectional unit.


The Sectional Titles Schemes Management Act 8 of 2011 (“Act”) accompanied by the Sectional Title Schemes Management Regulations (“Regulations”)  regulate the legalities around the powers, rights, responsibilities and obligations of the body corporate of a sectional title scheme and regulate how the common property of the scheme can be dealt with and utilized. As an owner of a unit in a sectional title scheme, you automatically become an owner of an undivided share in the common property of that scheme, such as the driveways, swimming pool, staircases, elevators, and roofs.


The body corporate as the owners of a sectional title scheme elect the trustees of the sectional title scheme and the trustees have a fiduciary duty towards the body corporate to attend to the management of the affairs of the sectional title scheme for and on behalf of the body corporate.


Prescribed Conduct Rule 5(1) as contained in the Regulations provides that an owner or an occupier of a unit cannot without the trustees’ consent in writing, make any changes to the external appearance of their unit or any exclusive use area that has been assigned to that unit unless such change is minor in nature and would not diminish the appearance of the unit or the common property.


Consequently, should an owner of a sectional unit wish to erect solar panels on the roof of their unit, they would be doing so upon the common property of the sectional title scheme. Prescribed Management Rule 29(1) and (2) states that in the event where a non-reasonably necessary (luxurious) improvement is intended to be made to the common property that a unanimous resolution of the body corporate would be required, and where a reasonably necessary improvement is intended to be made to the common property that only a special resolution of the body corporate will be required. Section 1 of the Act defines a unanimous resolution as a resolution passed unanimously by all the members of the body corporate at a meeting at which at least 80% calculated both in value and in number, of the votes of all the members of a body corporate are present or represented; all the members who cast their votes do so in favour of the resolution; or agreed to in writing by all the members of the body corporate, and a special resolution as a resolution passed by at least 75% calculated both in value and in number, of the votes of the members of a body corporate who are represented at a general meeting; or agreed to in writing by members of a body corporate holding at least 75% calculated both in value and in number, of all the votes.


Section 14(1) of the Act, which indicates that an owner may obtain insurance in respect of any damage to their section which can arise from certain risks which may not be covered by the insurance policy of the body corporate. Sectional owners should therefore ensure that should they wish to install solar panels on the roof of their unit and such risk falls outside the current insurance policy of the body corporate, they also insure such solar panels, as they can be expensive to replace in the event of damage.


GET SOLAR INSTALLATION APPROVAL


Plans discussion

APPLICATION


Owners/Tenants must submit their request for a solar installation to the Trustees and/or Managing Agent.

The request will likely be considered on on the following conditions being met:


Before any work is commenced, the owner will provide the trustees with certification that the system’s installation will not negatively impact the:

 

  • Structural integrity of the building;

  • Integrity of waterproofing of the roof or other common property area or walls;

  • Integrity of common property walls;

  • Integrity of fire safety precautions.

 

INSTALLING THE SYSTEM:


The owner will be liable to:

  • Use only the services of suitably licensed and accredited installers, in order to meet all requirements of the Local Council and to comply with any applicable national building codes and standards;

  • Maintain the structural integrity of the building;

  • Maintain the integrity of the building’s waterproofing;

  • Ensure minimal disturbance to other residents;

  • Keep the common property clean and tidy during the installation;

  • Repair any damage caused by the installation, whether that damage is to common property, to any section or that of other residents or owners;

  • Be liable for any increase in the insurance premiums of the Body Corporate.

  • For insurance purposes, submit a copy of the installer’s invoice for the installation as well as a copy of the Certificate of Compliance within seven (7) days of the installation date of the system. It is specifically noted that the owner will only have insurance cover from the date that the installation is noted on the insurance policy of the Body Corporate.

 

MAINTENANCE


The owner will:

  • Maintain the system, in accordance with the manufacturer’s specifications;

  • Use only qualified and licensed tradespeople for maintenance and repair of the system;

  • Maintain any common property at a point of contact between the system’s components

  • and common property;

  • Repair any damage caused by the system, at any time, to common property, other sections or he property of other owners or residents


REMOVAL OF THE SYSTEM


If the system needs to be de-commissioned, or even part or all of it de-installed, in order to undertake emergency repairs or necessary maintenance to any underlying common property, the owner will be required to restore all affected common property to it’s original condition. If the system is removed permanently, the owner will be required to restore all affected common property to it’s original condition.


INDEMNITY & COSTS:


The owner indemnifies the Body Corporate and will be liable to pay the full costs of:

 

Installing the system;

  • Maintaining and repairing the system;

  • Repairing any damage caused to common property;

  • Removing the system and restoring affected common property to its original condition;

  • Any increase in the Body Corporate insurance premium attributable to the system;

  • Removal of the system upon change of ownership of the unit concerned, unless the the purchaser undertakes, in writing, to take over responsibility with associated indemnities to the Body Corporate,

 

The owner also indemnifies the body corporate against any:

  • Loss or damage to common property;

  • Loss or damage to the property of other owners or residents;

  • Injury to any person;

  • Damage to the system as a result of work carried out by the body corporate pursuant to any applicable provision of the rules



BREACH OF CONDUCT RULES


If the owner fails to fulfill the obligations of the conduct rule’s, the body corporate will:

  • Provide notice in writing requesting that the owner complies;

  • Perform any necessary work if the owner fails to do so after receiving written notice;

  • Recover the costs from the owner of performing such work. Rights of the Body Corporate:

 

The Body Corporate retains the right to perform emergency repairs or necessary maintenance on underlying common property, even if that necessitates de-commissioning or de-installing the system, under the terms and conditions clearly stipulated in the rule’s and that the owner will have no claim against the Body Corporate.



Disclaimer: This article is the personal opinion/view of the author(s) and is not necessarily that of the firm. The content is provided for information only and should not be seen as an exact or complete exposition of the law. Accordingly, no reliance should be placed on the content for any reason whatsoever and no action should be taken on the basis thereof unless its application and accuracy have been confirmed by a legal advisor. The firm and author(s) cannot be held liable for any prejudice or damage resulting from action taken on the basis of this content without further written confirmation by the author(s). 

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