Hot water Installations in Sectional Title in terms of the Sectional Titles Schemes Management Act, 2011.
The exception to the general principle that the body corporate is responsible for the maintenance of the common property and the owner is responsible for the maintenance of the section, is the water heating installation. In terms of STSMA Regulations Annexure 1 – PMR 31 the water heating installation forms part of the common property and is insured by the BC, but it is the responsibility of a member to maintain, repair and when necessary replace such an installation which serves the members section or exclusive use area.
For me the use of the term “water heating installation” means the geyser and the water pipe network that provides the hot water pipe network that provides hot water to the unit. Some may argue that the cold water supply to the Geyser is not part of the water heating installation as the pipes are located in the common property, but at the very least the hot water pipes form part of the water heating installation.
In my view the cold water pipes leading up to the Geyser is the responsibility of the Body Corporate ( If one considers the situation where the geyser is inside the section, that Body Corporates responsibility for the hot water installation ends where the cold water feed pipe crosses the median line into the unit side of wall/floor/ceiling of the section. So why should it be different for the owner whose geyser is on common property? ) and the hot water pipes the responsibility of the owner so at the very least the cost should be shared between the owner and the Body Corporate.
Others ( even ST lawyers) do argue that the obligation to maintain the hot water geyser and the cold water pipes supplying water to the geyser, and the hot water pipes from the geyser to the unit, falls on the owner whose unit is being supplied – all pipes forming part of the water heating installation. This is irrespective of whether the geyser is situated in the ceiling or anywhere else on the common property.
Owners and trustees must be guided by PM Rule 31 of the management rules, but there is no clarification as to what defines the “water heating installation”
In practice, the insurance of the buildings should cover the geyser and the resultant damage and the required repairs, and so if there is a claim relating to a hot water installation problem, the claim would be settled by the body corporate’s insurer and the owner would be liable for the excess.
Where are the pipes situated in relation to the median line ?
In the case of many townhouse schemes, the plumbing pipes leading to and from any geysers located on the roof structure are usually chased in the external brickwork and returned through a ninety degree bend from the external brick wall onto the top of the concrete roof slab supported by the external wall. Thereafter the plumbing water pipes that return the hot water to the unit and the cold water supply to the geyser are covered with a light weight insulating vermiculite or foam cement screed laid to falls on the flat concrete slab, to direct the rain water to the rain water outlet pipes. The screed once dry is then waterproofed usually using a torchon product and the plumbing pipes coming up vertically through the screed to and from the geyser are dressed by the waterproof contractor to ensure water tightness.
This screed would appear to be what the plumbers chopped into and broke up as per the photo and the quote. So the pipes are effectively above the median line of the slab ( 200mm thick plus a screed of 50 to 75mm means that the median line for the roof slab structure is at 125 to 140 mm measured from the soffit ( ceiling) of the slab) ie the pipes are on the Common Property side of the roof median line)
In some cases Geysers are located in common property geyser housings on the side of the buildings or in staircase storage areas. In all these cases the cold water supply would be for the Body Corporate to maintain and repair and the geyser itself and all other fittings and pipes leading from the geyser to the unit would be the responsibility of the owner of the section to which the geyser supplies hot water.
Main water supply pipes to units on top of one another usually have a single masterflo valve and shut off valve at the base ( foundation plinth) of the building, with a single 50mm supply pipe running vertically up with 25mm branches off into the units.
Sometimes at the branch the plumber may have installed a separate shut off valve on the external of the unit to isolate just that unit should there be a plumbing problem in the unit.
In both these cases the shut off valves, the pipe and the masterflo valve are the responsibility of the Body Corporate as they located on the common property side of the median line. Once the cold water pipe crosses into the unit it is the responsibility of the owner.
Hot water Installations in Sectional Title in terms of the Sectional Titles Schemes Management Act, 2011