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Certificates of Compliance

Certificates of Compliance

If you are selling your house, flat or building then you are going to most certainly need a number of certificates of compliance (“compliance certificates“) before transfer can be registered. You’ll be well-advised to get them sooner rather than later if you don’t want to delay the transfer.

Some of these compliance certificates are required under national regulations (e.g. your electrical certificate and your electrical fence certificate) while others are required in terms of municipal by-laws (e.g. Cape Town’s water certificate requirement), and others still are required either by banks before providing finance of have become standard practice (e.g. your beetle certificate).

Electrical Certificate

In terms of the provisions of the Electrical Installation Regulations which came into effect in 2009 under the Occupational Health And Safety Act (No. 85 of 1993), it is compulsory for the seller of a property to be in possession of a valid Electrical Certificate of Compliance (ECOC).

The good news is that the ECOC is valid for a period of two years (you can sell your house within 2 years of buying it and won’t need to get a new ECOC) and it’s only necessary to have the property inspected again for a new ECOC when you sell your property.   In other words, if you’re going to keep your property for a number of years you don’t need to keep renewing the ECOC.

The purpose of the ECOC is to verify 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.

The ECOC covers distribution boards, wiring, earthing and bonding of all metal components (include antennae and satellite dishes), as well as wall sockets, light switches and the isolators of fixed appliances, it doesn’t cover the fixed appliances themselves (geysers, stoves, motors, fans, under-floor heating).

Your electrician might require certain remedial work to be done at the property prior to issuing the ECOC. e.g. fix some wiring; change certain plugs; earth the geyser and stove. All of those charges will be for the seller’s account.

Electric Fence Certificate

If you’ve installed electric fencing as a security measure around your property, you’ll need an Electrical Fence System Compliance Certificate when you sell your property. This is a separate certificate from the electrical certificate mentioned above since it falls under the provisions of a separate set of regulations: The Electrical Machinery Regulations of 2011 (also issued under the Occupational Health and Safety Amendment Act, No. 181 of 1993.).

If you are not intending to sell your house and your electric fences which was installed prior to 1 October 2012 then you don’t need to obtain an electric fence certificate. If your electric fence was installed after 1 October 2012 then you SHOULD already have such a certificate.

Either way, if you have an electric fence and you want to sell your house you’ll need a compliance certificate. As with ECOCs, your electric fence certificate is valid for 2 years.

Water Installation Certificate

If your property is situated within Cape Town’s municipal area, you’ll need to know that the City’s Water By-law (which came into effect in 2010) requires you to be in possession of a Certificate of Compliance of Water Installation before transfer of your property can take place.

The purpose of the water installation certificate is to ensure that water wastage is limited (e.g. check washers on taps to stop leaks); to protect buyers both from latent defect claims and from high water bills due to leakages.

Amongst others, certification covers the water meter (does it start registering when a tap is open, and stop completely when all taps are closed?); the correct installation of water cylinders; and the correct discharge of storm water (which mustn’t go into the sewerage system). It also ensures that the potable water supply is completely separate from any grey water or groundwater systems.

It is important for buyers to bear in mind that a water installation certificate is not a plumbing certificate, and that it doesn’t cover all aspects of the home’s plumbing – nor does it cover any leaks from waste or sewer water or drainage.

Gas Compliance Certificate

If your home is fitted with any gas appliances (e.g. gas stove, gas fire place), you are  going to need a Gas Certificate of Conformity in order to comply with the Pressure Equipment Regulations of the Occupational Health and Safety Amendment Act (the regulations came into effect on 1 October 2009).

This certificate is valid for a period of five years. It certifies that your gas installation is in a safe, working condition, that emergency shut-off valves have been correctly installed, and that the system is free of leaks.

Beetle Certificate

The beetle certificate has become standard practice and it is often a condition written into the sale agreement for properties in coastal areas – although it isn’t usually required for sectional title properties or where the property is situated inland where beetle and woodborer problems are less common. The beetle certificate shows that your property has been inspected and found to be free of the bettles or woodborer that attack structural timber.

Even if the seller decides that this requirement should be waived in the sale agreement, the seller’s bank or insurance company will often require a beetle clearance certificate for a property prior to providing finance or insurance for the property.

It is therefore important that the purchaser finds out if their bank / insurance company requires such a certificate, and if so, then provision for it should be included in the sale agreement.

Legally, there is no law or regulation which requires a beetle certificate.

By Andrew Goldschmidt

A Partner at Ashersons, Andrew has been with the firm since 2007. He has experience in contentious as well as non-contentious corporate and commercial matters ranging from the drafting of commercial contracts to commercial litigation, with particular regard to corporate and contractual disputes.

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