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Confusion regarding utility billing within a sectional title

In reference to the article ‘Sectional title owners' water, power rip-off’, It is true that sectional title owners are on the short end of the stick and do not receive what they are paying for. In some cases they will be charged a percentage of the utilities consumed by the scheme as a whole. As a scheme has one bulk supply also know as the primary supply, registered to the Scheme as a whole, it is up to the Body Corporate to correctly allocate the correct usage to each unit.

This can only be done if the Body Corporate or Managing Agent has individual meters or sub-meter for every unit and if they have a utilities management system in place which can accurately reconcile bills for each unit. This falls down to the Body Corporate/ Managing agent then. Although City Power and Johannesburg Water do charge sectional title schemes on an inclining block tariff it is up to the Body Corporate or Managing Agent to correctly reconcile the utility bills for each unit. This also means that the Managing Agent / Body Corporate needs to meter all units residing under the bulk supply identically as the bulk supply. If there is IBT (Inclining Block Tariff) on the bulk supply, then sub-meters should also be metered on an IBT Tariff.

Primary metering gives all management and decision making powers to the local authority who decide factors such as tariffs, service fees and events such as connection and disconnection of service. Where a meter is a sub-meter to a primary or bulk supply, the customer is billed by a body corporate. The customer is therefore directly liable to the body corporate that is, in turn, liable to the local authority.

Sub-metering gives, within legal reason, all management and decision making powers to the body corporate who decide factors such as tariffs, service fees and events such as connection and disconnection of service.

In addition to these differences in perspective there is the responsibility of meter reading.

In the event that a body corporate is unable to settle service bills there is a risk that the local authority will order disconnection of the bulk supply service. This disconnection affects everyone in the body corporate as the property has in effect been disconnected from the supply grid. The service interruption impacts all sections within the scheme, regardless of whether a section holder did or did not settle their body corporate bills.