ELECTRICAL “BUG”-BEARS IN THE PROPERTY TRANSACTION

Electrical compliance and beetle free certificates are generally required when selling a property, unless the parties contracting agree otherwise.

 

But even if a seller is contractually bound to provide the certificates – but fails to honour his obligations - this does not invalidate the sale.

 

So says Barak Geffen, Executive Director of Sotheby's International Realty South Africa who says a great deal of confusion exists regarding electrical compliance certificates – which are required by law – and beetle-free certificates which are often required by contract.

 

He says generally when a property is mortgaged, banks may require both electrical and beetle clearance certificates before transfer can take place.

But, Geffen says a good agent will insist that a “beetle” certificate be provided, especially in coastal suburbs or in older properties with wooden structures which may not have been pre-treated. However in newer buildings the building regulations stipulate the timber used must be pre-treated, which makes a beetle free certificate less necessary.

 

“Beetle-free certificates are generally only valid for 3 - 6 months as woodborer can be dormant for a period of time, and then may become active again.”

 

He says beetle and electrical certificates are usually stipulated in the sale agreement, but should not be lumped together too loosely as electrical compliance certificates are governed by law and always required (unless the parties expressly agree otherwise) while beetle-free certificates are a contractual obligation.

 

 “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 in respect of properties.

 

“If the seller is not in possession of the certificate then they will be guilty of an offence and be liable, if convicted, to pay a fine or face imprisonment.

 

“But this fact – although the seller might be 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, but it does not invalidate the sales agreement.”

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