Setting up exclusive use areas for solar power harvesting – Prof. Graham Paddock

Now that load shedding has become a regular part of the South African experience, trustees in sectional title schemes are having to deal with an increasing number of applications by owners to install solar panels on ‘their’ roofs. Of course, these areas are common property, owned by all members of the body corporate, so it is necessary to give owners exclusive use rights to rooftop areas before they can be allowed to install solar panels.

In a recent Paddocks Club discussion initiated by André Boersma, we were asked whether it would be possible to set up exclusive use areas for all owners in terms of one rule, so as to avoid the necessity to deal with a stream of individual applications and the risk of having exclusive use areas granted on different terms to different owners in terms of different rules.

The suggestion was that the members of the body corporate at a general meeting pass a special or unanimous resolution to make a rule (under section 10(7) of the Sectional Titles Schemes Management Act of 2011) giving all owners exclusive use of the roof space above their sections and the right to install their own solar panels on these areas, under the supervision and control of the trustees.

We share with you André’s sensible suggestion that such a rule should cover, among other issues:

  1. Specific positioning of the panels on the roof
  2. Maximum number of panels that may be installed (to take account of the size and occupancy of the section)
  3. Generic design of the solar panels (catering for various “models” available from a variety of suppliers and installers)
  4. Installation technique
  5. Certificate of Compliance
  6. Maintenance of the installed panels and the roof area covered by the panels
  7. Accountability and indemnity in respect of body corporate damages, injuries and losses, etc.
  8. Insurance – (owner’s insurance policy or body corporate’s)

In addition, we suggest that the rule should allow the body corporate and its agents to access the exclusive use area for inspection, and give it the right to require that the equipment be removed if it falls into substantial disrepair and the owner refuses or fails to address the problems.

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Graham Paddock is a specialist community schemes attorney, notary and conveyancer. He has been advising clients and teaching students for over 40 years, and was an adjunct professor at UCT for 10 years.

Article reference: Paddocks Press: Volume 18, Issue 1.

This article is published under the Creative Commons Attribution license.

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