Back to the future 29 July 2014 Regular checks and maintenance needed to prevent water damage

For sectional title properties body corporate insurance will cover damage to the building caused suddenly, unforeseeably and directly by wind, hail, storm, snow, lightning and sudden water ingress due to flooding.

However, damage or losses caused over a long time would ordinarily not be covered. For instance, damage or loss resulting from water penetration over time by failing waterproofing, water damage occurring whenever it rains due to leaking balconies from the flat above, rain damage when a windowsill is not waterproofed properly, and resultant damp will seldom be covered by body corporate insurance.

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Section 37(1)(j) of the Sectional Titles Act 95 of 1986 states that the body corporate has the duty to properly maintain the common property and to keep it in a state of good and serviceable repair. If rising damp is caused by a failure or defect in the common property then the body corporate will be responsible for the cost of repairing the consequential damage.

It is therefore important that the body corporate take good care that certain areas of the building are regularly checked for wear and tear that could result in water damage after heavy rains. These areas should include the roof, windows, doors, and balconies.

In addition, the drains and gutters should be cleared of any leaves or other debris that could cause blockages and result in water damage.

According to painting, waterproofing and construction company, Indawo, buildings in Cape Town are also at risk from high winds and sea spray, especially those on the coast.

Indawo managing director, Geoffrey Jäck, says building owners need to establish maintenance plans and funds to ensure that timeous repairs are done to avoid larger costs arising from neglect.

Carryn Melissa Durham is a sectional title lawyer at Paddocks, a specialist sectional title and home owners’ association firm that provides a range of products and services throughout South Africa. Visit

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