Installation of a Fibre Network Within a Common Property

A Fitzanne estate property agent noted “I was recently confronted by the trustees of various bodies corporate concerning the installation of a fibre network.

Fibre technology is the latest trend as it is designed to push large amounts of data very quickly making it much more attractive for its users than using a telephone, ADSL line or mobile service such as 3G.

However, installing the fibre network normally requires the lifting of paving and the laying of conduits and there is uncertainty amongst trustees as to whether they need consent for the installation.

As well as if the installation of the fibre network amounts to an improvement to common property that is necessary or not.”

He also stated that an improvement to common property is dealt with in the prescribed Management Rule (PMR) 29, Annexure “1” to the Regulations promulgated under the Sectional Titles Schemes Management Act 8 of 2011 (the “STSM Act).

He explained that the installation of the fibre network is paid for by the owner/s requiring the service and not by the body corporate. “This applies in most cases and has applied in all the instances that I have dealt with.

In my view, the question whether or not an improvement to common property is reasonably necessary will only be relevant when the body corporate pays for such improvement, e.g. the installation of a swimming pool or tennis court. Therefore, and in my view, PMR 29 does not apply.”

He gave an example to clarify, “To simplify the situation, it can be compared with Telkom installing a phone or the local council installing an electricity infrastructure on the common property for prepaid services to the residents.

In such instance, the trustees must ensure that any damage to the common property is repaired and the common property is restored to its original state.

Therefore, it is my considered submission that the trustees are able to consent to the installation of a fibre network subject to reasonable conditions, such as the owner accepting liability for any damage caused to the common property by the service provider.”

He added, “Should the service provider fail to repair such damage or fail to restore the common property to its original state, the Body Corporate can attend thereto and keep the owner liable for the reasonable repair costs.”