Who holds the clearance certificates of a property that is being sold?

29 May 2015

The Acts that govern the legal requirements of various aspects of homes such as electrical supply, electric fencing, gas and clearance are national acts, it is only the water clearance that is governed by the regional or city laws, says Lanice Steward, managing director of Knight Frank Residential SA. 

It is interesting that there is no law that requires a seller to have a beetle clearance certificate but it has become standard practice for buyers and financial institutions to ask for one, she said. 

While law requires that sellers of properties have valid clearance certificates for their home, it is only the conveyancing attorney who actually has to have physical sight of these, and he will hold these while the transfer process is going through. 

Sellers must, however, ensure that all the inspections are done before the home is put on the market and the original certificates given to the conveyancing attorney so that the transfer process is smooth and without unnecessary delays. On inspection it might be found that repairs are necessary which then entails another inspection once repairs have been carried out, said Steward. 

The Electrical Certificate of Compliance is valid for two years and verifies that all electrical work has been completed according to the South African National Standards’ regulations. This certificate will cover the distribution boards, wiring, earthing and bonding of any metal components, sockets, light switches, and isolators of fixed appliances. The certificate does not, as many believe, cover the geyser, stove, air-conditioning or underfloor heating installations, said Steward.

Electrical fence clearance certificates are a fairly new addition to the list of required items and it is only systems that were installed after 2012 that need to have clearance certificates, unless additions or alterations have been made to the system in the interim.

Gas compliance is regulated by the Pressure Equipment Regulations and this must be issued where there is a change of ownership of the equipment. This certificate is to ensure that all gas components in a home have been safely installed and are in good working condition and this certificate is valid for five years, said Steward.

The City of Cape Town introduced their water by-law in 2010, whereby all water installations have to be cleared before transfer of the property can go ahead and a new certificate must be issued every time ownership of the property changes, she said. The water by-law was put in place to eliminate water wastage through leaks and latent defects in the water installations in the home. This also certifies that the hot water cylinder is fitted correctly, that there is no storm water discharge into the sewerage system and that there is no cross contamination of grey water and any potable water supply on the property

The buyer should ask the transferring attorney for the original certificates so that record is kept of what was cleared (in case of any disputes which might question the validity of the clearance or any problems that might occur), said Steward.