Don't delay getting compliance certificates

When selling a home, sellers should get the electrical, plumbing, borer beetle and gas compliance certificates in hand before entering into any sales agreement, says Bill Rawson, chairman of the Rawson Property Group.

'The sellers may have lived comfortably for many years with a situation that is noncompliant. They may, for example, have grown used to having lengthy electrical extension cords in certain rooms, rusted and leaking piping or several disconnected plugs.

'But these have to be put right before compliance certificates can be issued. Often, however, sellers will go ahead with the sale and then try to get these certificates in the few days or weeks before they move out.

'This can cause difficulties because sellers may have to pay out far more cash than they had budgeted for to rectify faulty installations. These can also take far longer than expected.'

Sellers reluctant to fund remedial measures upfront, says Rawson, can sometimes sell a home with a list of defects openly stated in the sales agreement and therefore in a sense accepted by the buyer. They can also promise to pay the first few thousand rand towards achieving compliance and the award of the necessary certificates. However, the sale is invalid until all certificates have been achieved.

'Good estate agents will do more than ensure that a home is compliant before any agreement of sale is signed. They will also check all other aspects of the home to ensure that when the buyers take over there are no rotting window frames, doors that will not swing on their hinges, or swimming pool equipment that is faulty. Although it is often possible for sellers to hide behind the voetstoots clause provided, if they can prove that they were not aware of the defects, agents are no longer able to do so.

'The Consumer Protection Act assumes the agent, as a member of the supply chain, will have thoroughly inspected the products they sell and will hold them liable for these faults,' says Rawson.

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