For most people, their home is their biggest and most important asset. However, unlike other big assets, the sectional title home tends to be the least researched and understood asset prior to purchase. That is, sectional title buyers focus heavily on the bricks and mortar of the property but do little to no prior research on the body corporate and legislation that controls the use, maintenance, management, and finances pertaining to their property.
Currently, there are three main acts that govern sectional title home ownership:
- The Sectional Titles Act
- The Sectional Titles Schemes Management Act
- The Community Schemes Ombud Services Act
In addition to the above, there are various other Acts that also impact sectional title homeowners such as the Protection of Personal Information Act (POPIA), and the Property Practitioners Act (PPA).
A lack of understanding of the complexities and interpretations of the above acts has immense real-life consequences for sectional title homeowners. These consequences are clearly visible in the huge number of home-related court cases; CSOS complaints and adjudications; the resistance of unit owners to act as trustees in their body corporate; the lack of adequate maintenance of the common property; reductions in sectional title property values; and finally, poor levels of body corporate administration. To add to this, the above legislation is also regularly amended.
Given the above real-life consequences, there is an immense need for sectional title education in the homeowner community. But it is also important to consider the type of education needed, the cost of this, and the delivery systems best suited to the information age we find ourselves in.
Tailored education for a complex industry
While there are currently a number of educational resources available, these have not been packaged in a user-friendly way. In my view, this is due to three main reasons:
- Firstly, sectional title education should address each of the main role players within a sectional title scheme separately, namely:
- unit owners
- property practitioners
The reason for this is that not all unit owners will ever be trustees and as such, they may get lost when the education provided includes more complex content. On the other hand, both trustees and property practitioners need different in-depth educational content to be able to provide the best outcomes for their scheme.
- Secondly, good quality education should be offered at no cost. In the current information age, charging for basic adult education is not well supported and only discourages learning.
- Lastly, education must be easily accessible via the internet and through mobile devices.
A good analogy to sum up the importance of sectional title education is that of a family motor vehicle:
- It is generally an expensive asset;
- You cannot just purchase a vehicle and immediately drive it in the absence of some knowledge;
- There is a notable difference between driving a sedan, large truck or sports car. Having knowledge and experience in one does not automatically qualify you to drive the others;
- There are real-life consequences to you as the vehicle owner and to the other road users if your vehicle is not driven responsibly;
- If you do not take care of your vehicle, it will lose value;
- If you hire the wrong people to take care of your vehicle and they do not do it correctly, it will lose value;
- In the absence of knowledge in vehicle use, ownership and maintenance, and for the safety of yourself and those around you, my advice would be to not buy the vehicle.
The same applies to sectional title homes.
Written by Justin Mason – Sectional Title Solutions Chairman