Keep your home sales ready and compliant with the current safety standards

Selling one’s home is not the simplest of transactions, as it takes months to conclude from decision to transfer.  It is, therefore, essential to ensure that all the potential stumbling blocks are dealt with as early on as possible to minimise stress and avoid delays and additional expense.

Your home should look its best when you put it on the market and a lick of paint and tidy garden are important. However, what is more important and often left until the last minute when the property is ready for transfer, are the required Certificates of Compliance (COCs) and this could not only jeopardise the sale, but also prove costly.

Jill Lloyd, Area Specialist for Lew Geffen Sotheby’s International Realty in Claremont and Lynfrae in Cape Town, says: “Property owners are required by law to ensure that the property is legally fit for sale and before the transfer can take place, the transfer attorney must be in possession of the relevant COCs.”

In previous years only Occupancy, Electrical and Beetle Certificates were required, but new laws now stipulate that sellers also need to obtain a Gas Certificate, Electric Fencing Certificate as well as Plumbing and Water Certificates.

These each cost between R300 and R500 and take only a few days to acquire if all is in order, but if problems are discovered then you also have bear the costs of the necessary work to be done before the certificate can be issued, which can delay transfer if left to the last minute.

Michael Mtshula, a veteran building inspector for the City of Cape Town, advises that the home owners begin the compliance process before they even put their home on the market, or even earlier if they want to protect their families and allow them to benefit from the stringent safety standards that are now in place.

Mtshula adds that most banks now also insist on these certificates before they will approve a mortgage bond which could further scupper a smooth sale and cause unnecessary stress for both buyer and seller.

He also reminds home owners that the onus is on them to ensure that their Occupancy Certificate is current and that the building they are selling is still as per the original council approved plans.

Jack Bartlett, an electrical contractor who inspects sales properties and is authorised to issue electrical compliance certificates, says that beginning the compliance process early is especially recommended for older homes, where faults, such as worn wiring, eroded conductors and faulty wall plugs may need to be repaired.

“Having the required work done over a period of time will also alleviate the strain on your pocket, because depending on how much remedial work needs to be carried out, this can quickly add up to thousands of Rands, which are seldom budgeted for.”

Lloyd advises that the best way to avoid the potential frustration and additional costs of this process is through regular home maintenance which will also, most importantly, safeguard your family.

“Most of us ensure that our vehicles are regularly serviced, but forget that our homes also suffer wear and tear and have hard-working components that eventually erode, leaving us at risk in our own homes.

“I am often amazed at the type of repair work that needs to be done when a property is sold, especially potentially hazardous elements like faulty wall plugs, frayed wiring and badly wired distribution boards.”

Lloyd strongly advises home owners to test components such as the earth leakage regularly and to attend to any electrical faults and wear and tear immediately.

Lew Geffen, Chairman of Lew Geffen Sotheby’s International Realty says: “Whilst the Compliance Certificates add another layer of complexity to the sales process, these legal requirements are designed to indemnify the seller, safeguard the purchaser’s investment and, most importantly, to ensure the safety of the occupants.” 

However Lloyd cautions that people should do a little homework first to familiarise themselves with the regulations and what is required, as there are unfortunately some companies that will take advantage of a seller’s ignorance and rush to get the job done by including adjustments or repairs that are unnecessary.

“If you feel that a quote is excessive, or that unnecessary work has been included, make a point of getting a second opinion. It’s your right and could save you thousands of Rands.”

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