Electrical “bug”-bears in the property transaction

Whether beetle and electrical certificates are required or not is usually a stipulation in the Sale Agreement. While an Electrical Certificate is required in most cases, Beetle/Woodborer inspections depend on a number of factors.

Barak Geffen, Executive Director of Sotheby's International Realty South Africa says electrical and beetle certificates are usually not required in the case of a sectional title property, and neither where the property is situated far inland where beetle/woodborer problems are not as common as in coastal areas.


“A seller is not contractually bound to provide a purchaser with an electrical or beetle clearance certificate and an Agreement of Sale is not invalid if the seller has not provided these.”


“However, if a property is mortgaged, banks will generally require a beetle clearance certificate before transfer can take place.”

But whether it's required or not, Geffen says a good agent will insist that a certificate be provided, especially in coastal suburbs, where woodborer is more common, or a property is older, containing wooden structures which may not have been pre-treated.


“Remember that a Beetle/Woodborer Certificate of Clearance is only valid for 3 - 6 months as woodborer can be dormant for a period of time, and then may become active again.”


“In terms of the Occupational Health and Safety Act, every consumer of electricity is legally obliged to be in possession of a valid certificate of compliance. The certificate is transferable from one user to another provided that no new electrical work has been done.”


“If the seller is not in possession of the certificate then that seller is breaking the law as it were, but nothing more. The fact that the seller is breaking the law does not invalidate the contract between seller and purchaser. The purchaser can use the fact that the seller is in contravention of the law to force the seller to furnish him with an electrical clearance certificate.”


“That said, almost every Deed of Sale specifies that the seller provide the purchaser  with an electrical clearance certificate.”

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