It’s all about compliance

It’s all about compliance

As a Seller of any property, along with the stress of making sure the Buyer is satisfied enough to consider purchasing the property, there are certain other compliance issues that must be seriously looked at. Sellers must bear in mind that they or their conveyancer may be required to obtain various compliance certificates and other documents before their property can be transferred to a buyer. In a perfect world, these would be relatively expedient processes, however, unfortunately quite a load of administration is to be borne.

For the Seller, the onus is on him to ensure the following compliance requirements are considered and met:

Rates Clearance Certificate

 Before any property is transferred the conveyancer must obtain a rates clearance certificate from the relevant Municipality indicating that all amounts for rates and services for the property have been settled. An application is made by the Conveyancer’s office through an application procedure. The rates clearance certificate must be valid for 60 days and the Municipality will usually require rates to be paid in advance for a few months as well in order to prevent any future complications with the transaction. Sellers must bear this expense in mind, especially if their rates and/or consumption account is in arrears as, one would imagine, this would not bode well for the would be property owner.

 Building Plans

All buildings and structures are required to have approved building plans and some Municipalities actively ensure compliance by sending a building inspector to inspect the property, and will only issue a rates clearance certificate if the plans are in order. In addition to this, sale agreements often require the seller to warrant that structures on the property have approved building plans. Any seller should check that the building plans are current and approved otherwise there could be delays and expenses accrued to the transaction unnecessarily.

Electrical Compliance Certificates

Homeowners are required by law to be in possession of or provide a current valid electrical compliance certificate (“ECC”) issued by a registered electrician. An ECC will certify that the electrical installations on the property meet the prescribed standards in terms of the Electrical Installation Regulations (2009) and it is valid for two years unless any alterations are made to the electrical installations. Before the Seller is able to proceed with the transfer, this certificate must be obtained to ensure that the Electrical connections on the property are in line with the regulations, failing which, the transfer cannot be concluded.

Pest Clearance Certificates

 Pest certificates are not a legal requirement but sale and mortgage agreements in KwaZulu-Natal typically require that the seller obtain a valid pest clearance certificate stating that the property is free from wood-destroying insects. One would imagine that this requirement should be first on the list considering the damning effect such pests could have on a buyer’s investment. For this reason, this compliance certificate must be issued by a person registered under the South African Pest Control Association to be valid.

Electrical Fence Compliance

 There appears to be some uncertainty as to whether this compliance certificate is a legal requirement, nevertheless it does form part of many sale agreements. In terms of the Electrical Machinery Regulations (2011) all electric fences installed after 1 October 2012 shall have an electrical fence system compliance certificate. This is a separate certificate to the electric compliance above since it falls under the provisions of a separate set of regulations.

Water Certificates

 This particular certification covers the water meter and how the readings are to be taken. Further to this, this certificate convers what governs the correct installation of water cylinders as well as the correct discharge of storm water and how this is to be regulated by the property. Importantly for the homeowner, it also ensures that the potable water supply (JoJo Tanks as they’re affectionately known) is completely separate from any grey water or groundwater systems and that safety in respect of water use is covered.

Gas Compliance Certificates

 The Pressure Equipment Regulations (2009) require that anyone selling a property with any gas appliance installed must obtain a compliance certificate in respect of the appliance. The compliance certificate must be issued by a person registered with the Liquid Petroleum Gas Safety Association of South Africa, and will ensure that all gas fittings are safe and working properly.

Sellers must know their obligations in terms of law and conditions in the agreement of sale. They should also bear in mind that compliance certificates may be costly and may take time to obtain. We recommend that the seller work together with their estate agent to ensure compliance with all relevant obligations and also discuss this with their conveyancer if necessary. For more information, you may contact Randles Attorneys for assistance at info@randles.co.za or on 033 392 8000.

By: Shian Heynes – Attorney

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