Geysers in Sectional Title Schemes

Article courtesy of Michael Bauer

Problems with geysers are very common in the day to day running of sectional title schemes. But who is responsible to pay for the repairs and maintenance of geysers?

Section 5(4) of the Sectional Titles Act 95 of 1986 states that the common boundary of any section and another section or the common property is the median line of the dividing floor, wall, or ceiling. Geysers are often situated above the median line of the ceiling in a section. An object or structure built or placed on common property becomes common property and therefore it is the duty of the body corporate as per section 37 to repair and maintain such object.

However, geysers are an exception to the above rule. Prescribed management rule 68 (vii) states that an owner in addition to section 44 of the Act “shall maintain the hot water installation which serves his section, or, where such installation serves more than one section, the owners concerned shall maintain such installations pro-rata, notwithstanding that such appliance is situated in part of the common property and is insured in terms of the policy taken out by the bodycorporate.” 

The owner of a section is therefore responsible for repairs and maintenance (including replacement) irrespective where the geyser is situated.

In practice, geysers are insured through the general building insurance cover of the body corporate. Since November 2008, the owner has to pay the excess to the body corporate or the insurance company will deduct the excess from the insurance claim before the claim will be paid out.

Most insurance companies have call centers which have been set up to deal with for instance geyser claims. In most cases, no or a reduced excess is payable if the owner contacts the call center and reports the claim directly through their hotline.

It is advisable for sectional title trustees to circulate the information of the insurance policy including the name of insurance, policy number, information about the excess, and contact no of the call center to all owners.

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