The responsibility for managing and maintaining the under health and safety laws in sectional title schemes and Homeowners Associations (HOA’s) falls on the various owners collectively. The body corporate is responsible for maintaining the shared areas such as entrances, pools, recreational areas, and the owners are responsible for their own units. So this collective responsibility is crucial to adhere to health and safety standards.
If for some reason you fail to meet the safety standards and someone gets hurt, or something happens, you may potentially be held responsible in your personal capacity. This is why it is important to know what the regulations are and to ensure that you keep track of the various items in your schemes that need to be maintained and maybe even certified.
Several areas absolutely need to be adhered to comply with health and safety regulations; they are the following:
The scheme must have clear disclaimer signage wherever there are common property and signage that communicates the evacuation procedure. The location of firefighting equipment, all emergency numbers, and the procedure at lifts, stairs and handrails in the event of an emergency, and potential hazards like slippery walkways.
Building regulations state that property owners must control access to swimming pools, however, you should do much more than that to ensure the safety of tenants and their guests. Pool areas must be enclosed with a fence, and the pool must be covered with a suitable net or solid cover to prevent drowning. The pool gate should also have a spring-activated lock mechanism that ensures that it is self-closing. Disclaimer signage should also be easily visible at all entrances to the pool area.
3. Wheelchair ramps and driveways
Wheelchair access and driveways have to be designed so that they are deemed safe when used for their designed purpose. There are a number of guidelines according to the building regulations for ramps that are in use by groups of people, especially in semi-public buildings such as in complexes. The guidelines are as follows:
- ramps and driveways used by cars and similar vehicles should have a gradient of no more than 1:25 within a distance of 5m from street boundaries the driveway crosses,
- those used by pedestrians may be considerably steeper than this: a maximum gradient of 1:8 is permitted,
- if ramps and driveways are going to be used by pedestrians and vehicles, there should be a walkway at least 1,2m wide, with a kerb that is at least 150mm high.
4. Firefighting equipment
Firefighting equipment such as hydrants, hoses, and extinguishers should be kept on a register when in a complex so that all equipment can be serviced annually. All services should be displayed on a sticker on the equipment that clearly states the last service dates and upcoming ones. Firefighting equipment that falls out of maintenance endangers all who live there, and you will be liable for damages in the event of a fire and something malfunctions.
All elevators in use in a building must have emergency contact numbers and evacuation procedures clearly displayed at each landing. Elevators must also undergo monthly maintenance inspections and an Annexure B inspection every 2 years to certify that the lift is safe for use and comply with OHSA (the Occupational Health and Safety Act). It is best to set up a monthly contract with an elevator maintenance company, that is certified, to ensure that you never miss an inspection.
6. Public liability cover
Trustees should make sure that they have adequate financial cover for any potential claims that might be made against the body corporate should someone become injured on the common property. Public liability cover is an insurance policy to protect the scheme and starts at a minimum cover of R10 million. This insurance is a must and is well worth it.
Using project loans to perform maintenance upgrades
When a sectional title scheme or homeowners association doesn’t have the necessary funds available to perform upgrades and maintain certain areas, they can utilize project loans. Project Loans are the fastest, most efficient and cost-effective way to get maintenance and renovation projects completed.
To take advantage of the current market, you need to move fast. Propell provides unsecured revolving loan facilities (Project Loans) to sectional title schemes and homeowners associations so that they can access funds immediately to complete projects like maintenance, upgrades, repairs and energy-saving solutions.