Heated debate rages around solar installations in sectional title homes | Everything Property
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Heated debate rages around solar installations in sectional title homes

solar systems

More and more South Africans are rushing to get solar systems for their homes, to get off the grid and escape loadshedding and the country’s ongoing electricity crisis. If you live in a sectional title complex, however, harnessing the power of the sun has become a heated issue and getting the necessary approval to go solar can be a lengthy process, says specialist sectional title attorney and BBM Law director Marina Constas.

“Solar panels generally need to be installed on the roofs of units or carports, and these are common property in a sectional title development,” Constas explains. “This means that they are not part of any owner’s exclusive use area or section, according to the Sectional Titles Schemes Management Act. Common property is owned by all members of the body corporate, which is all the owners in the scheme. You simply cannot make decisions about installing solar panels on your own when you live in a sectional title property,” she stresses.

According to the legislation, reasonable improvements may be made to common property, but the owner would have to first get consent from the body corporate by way of a Special Resolution, Constas explains.

The first step for an owner considering a solar system for their sectional title home is to ask the managing agent or trustees to call a special general meeting of the body corporate, to propose the passing of a special resolution. Constas recommends that the owner goes to this meeting well prepared, with all the supporting documentation needed to justify their solar system. “Before the special general meeting, I would recommend that the owner wanting the solar system conduct a public relations exercise and discuss the project with all his neighbours.

There are aesthetic considerations in a complex. In many cases, other owners object just because they feel they were not consulted,” Constas says. On a practical level, instead of providing permission to one individual owner, the trustees should word the resolution in such a way as to create a policy on solar for all owners, she advises. “In my experience, body corporates are generally allowing individuals to install their own solar panels on condition that the sectional title property owner pays for them and also for the maintenance thereof,” Constas notes.

Another option for the installation of a solar system in a sectional title complex is for the project to be initiated by the trustees, for the benefit of all owners. “If the trustees decide that the complex should go solar, they would need to send a letter to all owners with details of the project, including the cost, how it will be funded and how it will look. Which roofs will the panels be installed on, for example? Will a special levy need to be raised? Would there be any issues with the weight of the panels? If the body corporate plans to install a system using reserve funds, it will also be responsible for maintenance. Once the trustees have sent out the letter outlining their solar project, owners would have 30 days in which to object.

“Installing solar power in a sectional title home is not a quick or simple solution to the electricity crisis. There are tricky issues to unravel around relationships, money and aesthetics,” Constas states. “With the one-year tax rebate now available to residents, solar systems have become even more attractive, however, sectional title schemes and role players like managing agents, trustees and bodies corporate need to arm themselves with the facts and be prepared for an influx of applications from owners,” she concludes.


Marina Constas is a specialist sectional title attorney and a director at BBM Law, which has branches in Houghton, Bedfordview, Pretoria, Umhlanga Rocks and Cape Town. Marina is the co-author of the best-selling book, “Demystifying Sectional Title”, which is the definitive guide for anyone living, buying or leasing property in a sectional title complex, or anyone who deals with sectional title in any manner.

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