Educating sellers about compliance certificates

Private Property South Africa
Tahir Desai

When it comes to selling a home there is more to it than just putting the property on the market, says Adrian Goslett, CEO of RE/MAX of Southern Africa, who notes that sellers need to have all of their compliance certificates in order before taking the step of put their home up for sale.

Goslett discuss which certificates sellers will need to have in order to ensure a smooth, hassle-free property transfer process:

Electrical Certificate

It is compulsory for homeowners to be in possession of a valid Electrical Certificate of Compliance (ECOC) when selling their home. ECOC’s are valid for a period of two years. This document verifies that the electrical work and installations that have been completed on the property are up to standard in accordance with the regulations as required by the South African National Standards. Goslett says when a home is sold, a valid ECOC is required before the transfer of ownership can take place.

He notes that an electrical certificate will cover the distribution boards, all wiring as well as earthing and bonding of all metal components, which include antennae’s and satellite dishes. It will also cover the socket outlets, light switches and all isolators for fixed appliances. However, an electrical certificate will not cover any fixed appliances such as the geyser, stove, motors, fans or underfloor heating.

“Sellers should opt to have the home inspected before they put their home on the market,” says Goslett, “as this will give them the opportunity to remove any TV antennae that have been replaced by satellite dishes, as well as remove any incorrectly installed electrical items such as extension leads, temporary lighting, water features or garden lights.”

Electric Fence

In addition to an electrical certificate of compliance, Goslett says that homeowners who’ve had electric fencing installed as a security measure, will require an Electrical Fence System Compliance Certificate. It is vital to note that an ECOC and Electrical Fence System Compliance Certificate are two separate and different documents. The Electrical Machinery Regulations of 2011 issued under the Occupational Health and Safety Act 85 of 1993, places an obligation on the user of an electric fence system to have an electric fence system certificate of compliance. This requirement does not apply to a system that was installed prior to 1 October 2012. As with an ECOC, this certificate will be required where an addition or alteration to the system has been undertaken or where there is a change of ownership of the premises on which the system exists. The electric fence system must be certified by an approved installer and the certification is valid for two years.

Water installation

In 2010 the City of Cape Town introduced a new water by-law, which stipulates that a water installation certificate of compliance must be issued before transfer of a property can take place. According to Goslett, a water installation certificate is an area-specific by-law that only applies to properties sold within Cape Town or where the City of Cape Town is a municipal authority. “The law requires that a new certificate must be issued each time the ownership of the property is transferred,” adds Goslett.

The intent of this law is to limit water wastage as much as possible as well as to protect the buyer from latent defect claims and high water bills due to leakages.

This certification checks that the hot water cylinder installation complies with standards set by SANS 10252 and SANS 10254. It also ensures that the water meter registers when a tap is open and stops completely when no water is drawn. It also ensures that no storm water is discharged into the sewerage system and that there is no cross connection between the potable water supply and any grey water or groundwater system which may be installed among other things.

While it may be assumed that the water installation certificate covers all aspects of the plumbing - it does not. “It is important for buyers to bear in mind that the water installation certificate is not a plumbing certificate and therefore does not fully cover all aspects of the home’s plumbing such as waste water. This certificate also does not cover any leaks on waste or sewer water or drainage,” Goslett explains.

Gas compliance

On 1 October 2009, Regulation 17 (3) of the Pressure Equipment Regulations (OHS ACT of 1993) came into effect, which states that a Gas Certificate of Conformity must be issued when there is a change of ownership. This certificate is valid for a period of five years.

The gas certificate is to ensure that gas components are in a safe, working condition and do not have any leaks. It also certifies that the emergency shut off valves have been installed in the correct positions. “There are several other aspects that the gas certificate covers such as ensuring that gas components are correctly positioned in relation to electrical points and that outside cylinders are the required distance from doors, drains, windows and electrical appliances,” explains Goslett.

Beetle certificate of clearance

While there is no law that requires a seller to provide the buyer with a beetle certificate of clearance, it has become standard practise and is often a condition written into the sale agreement in many coastal areas, says Goslett. In the past many financial institutions refused to provide bonds to buyers without proof that the property had been inspected for these insects and today, many banks and insurance companies still require a beetle clearance certificate when property is transferred to new ownership.

Beetle certificates are not usually required for sectional title properties, or where the property is situated inland where beetle/woodborer problems are less common than in coastal areas.

The beetle clearance certificate is only issued once the property has been inspected for any visible signs of wood destroying insects and deemed to be free of any such insects.

“Sellers should try to be as prepared as possible and get all of the necessary documentation in place before putting their home on the market to ensure that they have less to worry about during the sale process,” Goslett concludes.

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