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The certificates you need when selling your house

By Jessica Anne Wood

When selling your home there are a number of administrative duties and responsibilities that you have to complete. Among these is obtaining compliance certificates for your house. The certificates required can vary according to province, however, the main ones are for electrical compliance, plumbing and water installation, and gas compliance. Other certificates that you may also require are electric fence system compliance and a beetle infestation clearance certificate.

According to Adrian Goslett, regional director and CEO of RE/MAX of Southern Africa, when it comes to selling your house, it is important to have all your compliance certificates in order before listing your home on the market.

Craig Hutchison, CEO Engel & Völkers Southern Africa, agrees with Goslett, adding: “You can do this after the offer has been signed, however, if there is an issue with obtaining any specific certificate, it could potentially delay the sale. The onus falls on the seller to ensure that their house is legally fit for sale.”

Electrical Certificate of Compliance

Hutchison stresses that the electrical certificate of compliance (ECOC) must be issued by a qualified and registered electrician. This must confirm that all the electrical installations on the property comply with the prescribed standards of safety.

Goslett notes that the ECOC is valid for two years and confirms that all the electrical work and installations on the property meets with the regulations required by the South African National Standards.

The ECOC covers the following electrical connections: the distribution boards, all wiring, as well as earthing and bonding of all metal components (including antennae and satellite dishes), cover the socket outlets, light switches and all isolators for fixed appliances.

Goslett emphasises that the ECOC does not cover any fixed appliances such as the geyser, stove, motors, fans or underfloor heating.

If any of the electrical installations on the property are found to not meet the required safety standards, the homeowner will be responsible for fixing this and then obtaining the ECOC.

Electric Fence System of Compliance Certificate

You will also be required to get a compliance certificate for your electric fencing.

“It must be noted that an ECOC and Electrical Fence System Compliance Certificate are two different documents. The Electrical Machinery Regulations of 2011 issued under the Occupational Health and Safety Act 85 of 1993, places an obligation on the user of an electric fence system to have an electric fence system certificate of compliance. This requirement does not apply if the system was installed before 1 October 2012. As with an ECOC, this certificate is required where any change to the system has been made or where there is a change of ownership of the premises on which the system exists,” stresses Goslett.

Water and plumbing certificates

The water and plumbing certificate certifies that the water installation on the property is in line with municipal and building guidelines. It must be issued by a qualified plumber.

Goslett highlights that the City of Cape Town has a by-law which states that a Water Installation Certificate must be provided to the municipality by sellers before transfer. He adds that a Water Installation Certificate is an area-specific by-law that only applies to properties sold within Cape Town or where the City of Cape Town holds jurisdiction. 

“The intent of this law is to limit water wastage as much as possible, an important issue especially now with the recent water shortages and restrictions. The by-law also protects buyers from latent defect claims and high water bills due to leakages,” says Goslett.

“Although people may assume that the water installation certificate covers all aspects of the plumbing - it does not. A plumbing certificate and water installation certificate differ. A water installation certificate does not cover any leaks on waste or sewer water or drainage,” Goslett explains.

Gas Compliance Certificate

The gas compliance certificate indicates that any gas installation on the property complies with the Occupational Health & Safety Act. This certificate is only required if there are any gas connections on the property, such as a gas-top stove.

Goslett clarifies: “This certificate is valid for five years and must be issued by an authorised person who is registered with the Liquified Petroleum Gas Safety Association of Southern Africa (LPGAS). The gas certificate ensures that gas components are in a safe, working condition and are leak free. It also certifies that the emergency shut-off valves have been installed in the correct positions.”

Beetle Infestation Clearance Certificate

Not a requirement for all provinces, the beetle infestation clearance certificate is predominantly required in the coastal provinces, like the Western Cape and KwaZulu-Natal.

“Beetle certificates are usually not required for sectional title properties, or where the property is situated inland where beetle/woodborer problems are less common than in coastal areas. Banks and insurance companies will request a certificate on transfer if the home is situated in an area known to be infested,” explains Goslett.

He adds: “The beetle clearance certificate is only issued once the property has been inspected for any visible signs of wood destroying insects and deemed to be free of any such insects. The certificate is valid for three to six months.”

Getting the certificates

With so many certificates required it may be intimidating trying to get them all. However, there are many companies that will be able to do the inspections for all the clearance certificates at once, thus saving time and money as you only need one company to come in.

For example, in KwaZulu-Natal, Pesco carries out inspections for: Electrical Compliance, Electric Fence Compliance, LP Gas Conformity and Wood Destroying Insects Clearance.

In Cape Town, Ridco carries out inspections for beetle, electrical, gas and plumbing.


Source: Ridco. Correct as at 24 July 2017.

When it comes to any form of service, it is always best to shop around and get the best price.

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