Owner installing a solar system

More and more owners in our scheme want to install solar panels to assist with the constant loadshedding. What approval is needed for this?

The installation will be an improvement to the common property.

If it is an owner and it is viewed to be a major improvement then that owner will need permission from all the other owners and the improvement will become part of the common property – to be maintained by the BC.

It is advisable in such instances that exclusive use rights be created over the area where the improvement needs to be done.  If it is an EUA where an improvement will be done then the owner only need an ordinary resolution to be passed by the Body Corporate.

The rules creating the EUA will have to be approved by the owners (Conduct rules – special resolution and Management rules – unanimous resolution).  After that it must be submitted to CSOS for approval.  Only once approved by CSOS does it become an EUA and can a meeting be called to pass the ordinary resolution for the improvement.  (An ordinary resolution can only be passed at a meeting)

It is important that the rules creating the EUA also includes a provision for maintenance – who will be responsible for maintenance of that area – will it be the owner?  If no provision is made the responsibility will be that of the BC.

It is also important that standards are set in the Conduct rules for solar installations – covering general practical conditions that the BC wants to set. 

For example – what needs to be done to ensure that the roof structure can carry the weight of the solar panels etc

There are also instances where the owner can do improvements to common property and only need Trustee permission – this is covered in PCR 4 and this is only possible for minor alterations to the common property.  I don’t think a solar installation can be viewed as a minor improvement.

Quotes from the STSM Act:

PCR 4(1)          The owner or occupier of a section must not, without the trustees’ written consent, mark, paint, drive nails, screws or other objects into, or otherwise damage or deface a structure that forms part of the common property 

PMR 30.    The body corporate must take all reasonable steps to ensure that a member or any other occupier of a section or exclusive use area does not—

(d) make alterations to a section or an exclusive use area that are likely to impair the stability of the building or interfere with the use and enjoyment of other sections, the common property or any exclusive use area

(g) construct or place any structure or building improvement on an exclusive use area which in practice constitutes a section or an extension of the boundaries or floor area of a section without complying with the requirements of the Act and the Sectional Titles Act; provided that the body corporate may by ordinary resolution —

  • give consent for such a structure or building improvement, if they are satisfied that it does not require compliance with such requirements;
  • prescribe any reasonable condition in regard to the use or appearance of the structure or building improvement; and
  • withdraw any consent if the member or other occupier of a section breaches any such condition.