Who holds clearance certificates of a property that is being sold?

The acts that govern the legal requirements of various aspects of homes such as electrical supply, electric fencing, gas and clearance apply nationwide and only the water clearance is governed by the regional or city laws, says Lanice Steward, managing director of Knight Frank Residential SA.

“There is no law requiring sellers to have beetle clearance certificates, but it has become standard practice for buyers and financial institutions to ask for them,” she says.

“Although the law requires that property sellers have valid clearance certificates for their homes, only the conveyancing attorneys actually need to see these, and they will hold the certificates while the transfer process is going through.”

However, she says, sellers must ensure that all the inspections are done before the home is put on the market and the original certificates given to the conveyancing attorneys so that the transfer process is smooth and without unnecessary delays. On inspection it might be found that repairs are necessary which then entails another inspection once repairs have been carried out.

Electrical certificates of compliance are valid for two years and verify that all electrical work has been completed according to the South African National Standards’ regulations. This certificate covers the distribution boards, wiring, earthing and bonding of any metal components, sockets, light switches, and isolators of fixed appliances. The certificate does not, as many believe, cover geysers, stoves, air-conditioning or underfloor heating installations.

Electrical fence clearance certificates are a fairly new addition to the list of required CoCs and it is only systems that were installed after 2012 that need to have them, unless additions or alterations have been made since 2012.

Gas compliance is regulated by the Pressure Equipment Regulations and must be issued when equipment changes ownership. This certificate is to ensure that all gas components in a home have been safely installed and are in good working condition and it’s valid for five years, says Steward.

The City of Cape Town introduced its water by-law in 2010, whereby all water installations have to be cleared before transfer of the property can go ahead and a new certificate must be issued each time ownership of the property changes.

The water by-law was put in place to eliminate water wastage through leaks and latent defects in the water installations in the home. This also certifies that the hot water cylinder is fitted correctly, that there is no storm water discharge into the sewerage system and that there is no cross contamination of grey water and any potable water supply on the property.

The buyer should ask the transferring attorney for the original certificates so that a record is kept of what was cleared, in case of any disputes that might question the validity of the clearance or any problems that might occur, says Steward.

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