Heightened security, a great sense of community, lower insurance costs and shared maintenance costs are a few of the advantages associated with Sectional Title developments. Property trends indicate a significant surge in sectional title homes across the country, with many analysts attributing this popularity to some of the aforementioned advantages. Whilst each sectional title owner enjoys undisturbed use of their unit(s), a Body Corporate ensures the effective maintenance of the communal property as well as regulating the standards of the complex at large to facilitate harmonious living and quality life for all residents.
On 22 January 2023, Eskom announced permanent load-shedding for the next two years. Whilst this is a crisis for which the greater population has no solution to, solar panels are a good renewable energy alternative for typically the middle class and above. Then, on 22 February 2023, the finance minister announced that as of 1 April 2023, the National Treasury will provide tax incentives (rebates) and relief for up to R15,000 to households to encourage a move to renewable energy.
Sectional title expert Marina Constas, in her dialogue with John Perlman from 702 radio station, shed some light on how owners can go about installing solar panels on their properties in sectional title schemes. Owners cannot make the decision to install solar panels by themselves, seeing that the solar panels will typically be installed on the common property. The Body Corporate is essentially at the centre of this decision, not only through liaison with the owners but then by way of special resolution if there are any objections by one or more of the owners.
The trustees of the Body Corporate should send out a letter/proposal to the owners to kick the process off. The letter should expand on details such as the associated costs, plan of the scheme, where the solar panels will be placed, the increase in levies, any interest payable as well as the structure of the ownership and the maintenance of the solar panels. The Body Corporate should afford owners a 30-day period in which owners can object to the letter/proposal. If there is an objection, a subsequent meeting should follow where a special resolution is entertained. Needless to mention, if the proposal passes, owners will be responsible for the payment and maintenance of the solar panels. However, should the Body Corporate be the ones to put up the panels at their expense, irrespective of where the panels are put up, the Body Corporate will be liable for its maintenance.
Given the tax rebate that was just announced, it could be to the benefit of the owners to be given the necessary consent from the trustees and other owners to put the solar panels up themselves, so that they can then be in a position to claim the tax rebates when they submit their annual tax returns.
By Johan du Toit and Noluthando Ndala