The seller, compliance certificates and a defects disclosure document
Prior to the sale, the seller must obtain relevant compliance certificates. This involves accredited service providers performing inspections and then certifying that a particular aspect of the property meets the required safety standards. The following are compliance certificates that may be required depending on the type of property being sold:
- Electrical Compliance Certificate: This sets out that all the electrical installations in and around the property are in good working condition. This certificate is valid for two years after issue, however, a new certificate will be required if any changes / additions are made.
- Electric Fence Certificate: Separate to the Electrical Compliance Certificate, an Electric Fence Certificate is required if there is an electric fence completely or partially surrounding the property, and certifies that the fence is in good working order and meets the required safety standards.
- Gas Certificate: Where relevant, a Gas Certificate will be required to show that all gas appliances / installations are in good working order and leak free. The certificate will also ensure that all gas components are correctly positioned a safe distance from doors and electrical points.
- Water / Plumbing Installation Certificate: This certificate confirms that all water installations conform to the National Building Regulations and that there is no water wastage due to leaks. (Note: only applicable for transfers within the jurisdiction of the City of Cape Town Municipality)
- Beetle Infestation Clearance Certificate: This certificate ensures that there are no wood-destroying beetles affecting wooden structures on the premises. While this certificate is not required by law, it has become standard practice to include this in the sale conditions, particularly in coastal areas.
It is good practice for any seller to start the process of obtaining the relevant certificates once all conditions in the Offer to Purchase have been met and the sale is secured. This will ensure that there are a few delays if any major work needs to be attended to in order for the certificate to be issued.
In addition to these compliance certificates, it is also best practice for the seller to compose a comprehensive Defects Disclosure Document. The document will outline all property defects that are known to the seller at the time of the sale. These defects may not affect the overall integrity of the building, however, they may affect the buyer’s decision to purchase the property or the negotiations between the two parties in terms of purchase price. Failing to disclose any known defect would constitute a breach of contract on the seller’s part and would result in the sale agreement being void.
Home inspection tips for buyers
While the compliance certificates and defects disclosure document will provide the buyer with a good overview of the property being purchased, it remains essential to conduct one’s own thorough inspections.
A property report from a reputable professional is a helpful factor to consider before making an offer to purchase. A property might tick all the right boxes, but there may be things beneath the surface that might affect whether the purchase is a good investment.
It will help determine any repairs, maintenance or alterations that might be needed in order to ensure the house is in the correct condition and this can then be negotiated as part of the sale agreement between the buyer and seller.
Whether you are selling or purchasing, remember that the responsibility lies with both parties to ensure that there aren’t any unwelcome surprises later on.
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