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Sectional Title Security – Body Corporate Responsibility?

Safety and security is always top of mind for South Africans. Secure lifestyle estates have shown huge success in Cape Town and elsewhere. Home robbery (a break-in while people are at home), and burglary (a break-in while people are not at home) are frighteningly common occurrences in all provinces. Stats SA released a report revealing that in 2019/20 an estimated 1,200,000 burglaries occurred representing 5,3% of households. During the same period, 169,000 home robberies took place representing an additional 0,8% of all households. When we throw hijackings into the mix, the picture is even more grim. 265,000 took place in 2019/2020 with the majority taking place in residential driveways according to Richard Brussow, director of the National Hijacking Prevention Academy (NHPA). The need for preventive measures is clear, and sectional title security is no exception.

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Security measures like surveillance cameras at access points are extremely important for sectional title security. 

Body Corporate Responsibility

The Sectional Titles Act, 1986 deals with the functions and powers of Bodies Corporate:
Section 36 states that the Body Corporate’s function includes “in general, to control, manage and administer the common property for the benefit of all owners.” Furthermore, Section 38 goes on to stipulate that Body Corporate may exercise its power “to purchase, hire or otherwise acquire movable property for the use of owners for their enjoyment or protection, or in connection with the enjoyment or protection of the common property.” [Emphasis added]. However, that doesn’t mean that security is the responsibility of Body Corporate. Body Corporate is only responsible for common property and it is each owner’s responsibility to arrange additional security measures for the inside of their property. That being said, there is unfortunately no specific provision in the Act compelling Bodies Corporate to implement security measures. Additional security features are most often implemented once trustees initiate action or after a break-in has already occurred.

Role of Surveillance for Sectional Title Security

According to Melissa Kammies, Leasing Administrator at Faircape Sales & Leasing (sectional title specialist sales and rental management) – security features are one of the most important features tenants look for. She says, “security features can mean the difference between a signed lease and a vacant unit.” But camera surveillance isn’t only beneficial for attracting quality tenants and maintaining occupancy of rental apartments. Monitored CCTV helps to deter criminal activity, and is permissible evidence. Additionally, Body Corporate can use CCTV to help enforce the rules.

CCTV installation

CCTV Technologies has extensive experience with sectional title security having monitored CCTV cameras at very safe Empire in Muizenberg for years.

Where to Start?

Bodies Corporate should first start by consulting with security professionals to help assess the needs, and vulnerabilities of the apartment block. Strategic placement of cameras to cover access points such as pedestrian thoroughfare, and driveways will be carefully assessed. Highly visible signage will be placed to help deter criminal elements from targeting the property as well.

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