You have reached the big decision to sell your house. You find a Purchaser, but notice in the Deed of Sale that various compliance certificates must be acquired and paid for by you, the Seller. What are these Certificates and do you really need them?

There are five certificates that may have to be supplied to the Purchaser when selling your house, namely, electrical, beetle, gas, water/plumbing and electrical fence. Not only will you have to pay for these certificates but you will also have to pay to fix anything required in order to obtain the certificates. The required certificates must be obtained before transfer can take place and will most likely be required by any bank that is securing a mortgage bond over the property before they will consent to registration.

Let’s have a brief look at what each certificate is:

1. Electrical Certificate

This certificate certifies that the electrical installation on the property complies with the prescribed standards of safety. It is required in terms of the Occupation, Health and Safety Act, and must be issued by a qualified and registered electrician. A certificate is only valid for two years and if any alterations/modifications are undertaken, then the certificate will no longer be valid even if the two year period has not yet lapsed.

2. Beetle Certificate

Although the beetle certificate is not legislated it has become practice firmly embedded in all property transactions in coastal areas, although it is usually not required in sectional title transactions.

The certificate will certify that the wood structures on the property are free from certain beetles that eat and destroy wood.

3. Gas Certificate

If your home is fitted with gas appliances, you will need to obtain a gas certificate that certifies that any gas installation complies with the Occupation, Health and Safety Act. It the property is purely on electricity, this certificate is not required.  The certificate will certify that the installation is in a safe, working condition, that emergency shut-off valves have been correctly installed and that the system is free of leaks.

4. Water/Plumbing Certificate

This certificate is specific to the City of Cape Town municipality and is required in terms of the City’s Water By-laws. The certificate must certify that the water instillation on the property is in line with municipal and building guidelines and must be issued by a registered and qualified plumber. It is designed to limit water wastage and to protect purchasers from both latent defect claims and from high water bills due to leakage.

The certificate covers the water meter, the correct instillation of water cylinders and the correct discharge of storm water. In addition, it ensures that the potable water supply is completely separate from grey water or ground water systems.

5. Electrical Fence Certificate

If your property is surrounded by an electric fence, you will need an Electrical Fence Compliance Certificate certifying that the electric fence installation complies with the Occupational Health and Safety Act. A new certificate only needs to be obtained when alterations or additions are made, or if the property is sold.

When you have used the services of an Estate Agent, they will normally arrange all the necessary certificates as a part of their service to you. However, should you sell your property privately, you will have to arrange for these certificates to be issued.