With the announcement in the budget speech of tax benefits for homeowners who install solar energy systems, what are the rules and pitfalls for sectional title property owners? With loadshedding an integral part of South Africans’ lives, the question isn’t so much when to install solar, but rather how? 

Managing agents and trustees within sectional title schemes need to ensure that the rules and regulations governing the scheme cover solar installation, with particular attention to aesthetics, damage to common property and, where applicable, fines.

Aesthetics

Sectional title properties have rules in place to promote uniformity within the scheme and to avoid any aesthetic differences between the exteriors of units.

Before purchasing any renewable/green energy products which are to be installed outside of their units, owners should check with their trustees/managing agents what the procedure is to:

a) Apply for consent to install solar.

b) Determine what the aesthetic guidelines are for such equipment (if guidelines have already been issued).

In the absence of these permissions, a body corporate could through legal means compel the removal of the solar panels at the owner’s cost.

Damage to common property

The outer part of the roof of a section is defined as common property and is managed by the trustees of the body corporate. Fixing solar panels or a solar heating system will obviously cause some damage, even if only drilling into the roof for the bracket that is going to keep the panels in place.

Assuming an owner has obtained the requisite consent prior to installation of solar equipment, in terms of Section 13 of the appropriate legislation, the onus is on him/her to keep the objects in good order and repair.

Fines

Depending on how the rules have been created, fines can be levied against members for non-compliance. The owner in transgression of the conduct rule in question, namely installing solar without permission, must first be warned in writing and given an opportunity to remedy the issue. The issues driving the desire for solar are not going away. Therefore, planning and moving with the times is the only practical solution for owners, trustee members and managing agents of sectional title schemes.

Issue: Installing solar equipment within a sectional title scheme.
Solution: Rules and regulations need to be implemented and communicated so that owners know what is required prior to installation.

Full acknowledgement and thanks go to https://www.golegal.co.za/ for the information in this editorial.

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