The safety and security aspects of sectional title living


With concerns for the safety of one’s person and property increasing, there has been a movement towards expanding communities in the form of sectional title complexes, duet and cluster housing. People moving into sectional title units are willing to sacrifice space and privacy in exchange for improved safety, security and a sense of community that comes with sectional title living.

Accordingly, when considering sectional title living it is important that you carefully weigh the safety elements that different sectional title complexes offer to determine which appropriately meet your relevant needs. Additionally, it is important to be aware of the process for adding or improving security features in a complex and understand that this may not automatically fall to the body corporate to implement.

When considering the purchase of a sectional title unit off the plan from a developer, you have the opportunity of fully acquainting yourself with the location of all proposed safety features such as security gates, electric fencing, barb wire, burglar bars, security lighting, security guard stations etc. and you can pre-determine whether these fulfil your safety requirements as part of your overall purchase consideration.

When considering the purchase of a unit in an existing sectional title complex it is also important that you verify the safety features of the complex which form part of the common property of the development. These may need to be verified physically and require confirmation from the body corporate.

Where you are already living in a sectional title complex, you may wish to review current safety measures available in the complex as well as measures which could enhance or be implemented to improve the safety of the complex. In this regard the following are a few useful tips to reviewing the current safety elements available in the complex:

  • Electric fencing: Review the safety and certification of current equipment and ensure periodic maintenance and testing of the fence and fence energiser.
  • Security gates: Consider upgrading security gates and access control with unique codes/tags for each unit to better monitor access and egress.
  • Pedestrian gate: Ensure that the gate mechanism locks after use by installing a self-closing mechanism.
  • Gate motors: Ensure that the motor and the battery pack are maintained and in proper working condition and gate closing times are not set too slow.
  • Armed response: Ensure that all owners are informed of the necessary emergency response numbers and that armed response notice boards are prominently displayed.
  • Security lights: Ensure that sufficient security lighting is strategically placed around the complex and that lights are regularly maintained and in working condition.
  • Day/night lighting: Ensure that open parking areas and dark spots are appropriately lighted with timers or day/night switches.
  • Safety guard: Ensure that security guards are appropriately trained and certified and that guard shifts, patrol routes and visitor access identification procedures are implemented and routinely monitored.
  • CCTV monitoring: Consider strategic placement of CCTV to monitor complex entrances and perimeter.

Where security features are not up to standard or available or security must be urgently addressed due to a spate of crime in a complex, this cannot unilaterally be implemented by a unit owner.

Unit owners may propose/suggest at a general meeting (or at a special general meeting if circumstances permit) that additional security features be installed.

It is important to note that any resolution taken to implement additional security measures may result in an increase of the levies payable by the owners in order to fund the additional measures, and these additional levy costs should also be carefully considered.

In addition to implemented complex security measures, it remains the responsibility of each resident to ensure the safety of their unit and possessions by being careful and installing such necessary additional security systems as they believe is required if such systems do not form part of the common property or are not installed by the body corporate.

For example, an owner may install a locking device, safety gate, burglar bars or other safety device for the protection of his section, provided that the body corporate has first approved in writing the nature and design of the device and the manner of its installation.

Where security measures and facilities are incorporated into the sectional title complex, it forms part of the common property and remains the responsibility of the body corporate to ensure that it is maintained and kept in a good and proper working order.

With security of increasing importance to each home owner, it is worthwhile to properly consider the security arrangements at a potential complex when buying or even review the existing arrangements at your current complex and whether these are up to standard to ensure the safety of person and property.