Geysers a recurring problem

Owners and trustees of sectional title schemes can be forgiven if occasionally they have a strong yearning to stick pins into wax effigies of geyser manufacturers, says Michael Bauer, general manager of IHFM, specialists in the sectional title management industry.

“Geysers probably cause more problems in sectional title schemes than any other single item on the list,” says Bauer. “Regrettably, they do require maintenance and they seldom function efficiently after five years. If and when they blow up they can cause huge water damage.”

The big question always asked, says Bauer, is who is responsible for the repair and maintenance of geysers.

“The relevant clause in the Sectional Title Act 95 of 1986 states that the common boundary of any two sections or a section and the common property is the median line of the dividing floor, wall, or ceiling. Geysers are often sited above the median line of the ceiling, which means that they are located in the common property and, therefore, in theory should be part of the body corporate’s responsibility.

“However, this is not the case. The PMR (Prescribed Management Rules) make it absolutely clear that it is the owner’s duty to maintain any hot water installation serving him (and possibly other occupants) even if it is located above the median line and on the common property.”

In practice, says Bauer, the insurance on the geyser will be carried by the body corporate as part of its general building insurance but since November 2008 an owner has to pay the excess on any claim. If he does not do this the insurers are entitled to deduct the excess sum from the payout on any claim. In most cases, the insurance will waive or reduce the excess charge if the owner uses their call centre and notifies them immediately after the problem arises.

Sectional title trustees, says Bauer, should circulate details of the insurance policy to all members in clear, simple language, giving the call centre’s telephone number and insurance policy number for easy reference.

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