Legislation regarding electrical compliance certificates applies to community housing schemes as well as to individual freehold properties - and prospective buyers in estates and Sectional Title complexes should not allow themselves to be told otherwise by home sellers or estate agents keen to close a deal.
“In terms of the Occupational Health and Safety Act, every homeowner must have a Certificate of Compliance (CoC) for the property’s complete electrical system, which will be needed before transfer can take place to a new owner,” says Andrew Schaefer, MD of leading property management company Trafalgar.
“Only a certified electrician may issue the certificate and there is a strict code of practice, according to SANS 10142, which all electrical installations must adhere to, in order to protect the home and its occupants from electricity-related risks such as shock from metal appliances, plug point faults, inadequate insulation, the risk of fire when faulty wires overheat and extreme voltage fluctuations which damage electronic and other appliances.”
An electrical CoC is only valid for two years, he notes, so most home sellers will need to get a new one before the property can be transferred to a new owner. “They should in fact also get a new one every time that they make any changes or repairs to the property’s electrical installation - and it is really worth doing so because a current, valid COC will also be required should they need to claim any insurance relating to an electrical system malfunction.”
In the case of Sectional Title schemes, says Schaefer, electrical CoCs are required for both the individual sections and for the common property, with unit owners being responsible for compliance within their own sections and the body corporate being responsible for any electrical installations on the common property, such as the outdoor lighting, gate motors, a CCTV system, and any other security apparatus.
“In many community housing schemes, there will also be a requirement for a separate CoC for the electric perimeter fencing, and this will also need to be obtained and held by the body corporate in a Sectional Title scheme, or the homeowners’ association (HOA) in an estate.”
This seems straightforward enough but, he says, home sellers in community housing schemes who need to obtain copies of the CoCs for the common property installations and the electric fencing to give to their buyers quite often find that these have been lost, not replaced as required or perhaps not obtained at all. “In addition, other owners who are not selling and don’t currently need copies of valid common property CoCs may argue against the cost of obtaining new ones.
“However, the fact is that their scheme could be held liable and have to pay substantial damages if someone is shocked or electrocuted on the common property, for example, or there is a fire caused by an electrical short, and the electrical system or electric fencing has not been certified safe.
“This is why we urge all trustees of Sectional Title complexes and the directors of HOAs to ensure that their schemes have the correct CoCs at all times, and to encourage any person who purchases or rents a home to insist on seeing valid CoCs before signing a sale or lease agreement.”