A Guide on Compliance Certificates | SA Home Loans

15 May 2023

A Guide On Compliance Certificates

Buying a home that previously belonged to someone else can be a leap of faith. Yes, you can visit the potential property multiple times, ask hundreds of questions and examine it from top to bottom, but that won't compare to physically living in it. When you do move in, you could discover minor things that don't meet your expectations, like a sofa that doesn't fit through a doorway or a shower that's a bit tight.

Coming to terms with the reality of a new home takes adjustment, but some elements within it buyers expect to function from the outset. While a small shower or narrow doorway is annoying, it won't impact your lifestyle or pocket as much as a malfunctioning geyser or circuit will.

To protect buyers and sellers, the law requires sellers to certify their home's systems as functional before selling it. If you plan to sell your home soon, here's what you need to know about compliance certificates.

What is a certificate of compliance?

When you sell or renovate your home, national regulations and municipal by-laws require you to get a compliance certificate issued for various systems before you transfer the property to the seller, and they register its new ownership details with the deed's office. Should the person issuing the certificate detect an issue, the buyer will need to pay for necessary repair work and the issuing of a new certificate.

While some certificates are mandatory, others are specific to certain regions. In some cases, both parties can agree to waive certification and have the buyer do this later at their own cost or the seller can transfer an existing certificate to them. This is common when the buyer plans to renovate or alter any systems after the property's purchase. In this case, the buyer may need to issue a certificate when the work is completed, at their own cost. Buyers may also require certifications as a requirement by their lender or for home insurance purposes.

Who needs a certificate of compliance?

In most cases, the person selling the property pays for and acquires the certifications. Not having these certifications could render the seller responsible for issues the system creates should it malfunction with its new owners. For example, if you fail to certify a property's water system leaks and ruins the new owner's walls, you may be responsible for the repairs.

While a seller may provide new owners with updated certificates prior to the sale, the buyer may renovate the home after taking ownership of it, impacting one or more systems in the process. - Failure to get new certifications can mean that their insurance won't pay for any damages sustained if the new system fails. For example, if you buy a home with up-to-date certificates and add extra bedrooms to the structure, it will impact your home's wiring and electrical system. Failure to get this completed electrical work certified means that if the system malfunctions and causes a fire, your insurer won't cover the costs of any required repairs.

What certificate of compliance do I need?

Here are certificates of compliance that can impact your property sale:

  • Electrical Compliance Certificate (ECC): An ECC report states that your home's electrical installations comply with safety standards. You'll need this certificate when selling your home if your existing ECC is older than two years or you've undertaken alterations or installations. An ECC covers your home's distribution boards, wiring, earthing, bonding, antennas, satellite dishes, outlets, switches, and appliance isolators. It excludes fixed appliances like geysers, fans, and motors.
  • Borer Beetle Certificate (BBC): If you live in coastal areas or your home's foundation and structure are wooden, your property could be prone to wood-destroying insect infestations. Getting a BBC isn't legally required, but a buyer can require it as a condition of their sales or loan agreement. Usually, the buyer and seller set a validity period for this certificate. A BBC states that your freestanding property is free from wood-boring beetles. If an infestation is found, you must get a Beetle Infestation Clearance Certificate which is valid for between three to six months.
  • Electrical Fence System Compliance Certificate (EFSCC): An EFSCC applies to fences installed after 1 October 2012, and must be acquired if you're selling your home or have installed, altered, or extended its electrical fencing system. It certifies that your fence complies with safety standards and the certificate is valid for two years.
  • Gas Compliance Certificate (GCC): You'll need this certificate if your property has any liquid gas-powered systems present. if your property passes an inspection you'll get a Gas Certificate of Conformity, which is valid for five years. This certificate proves that your home's gas components and emergency shut-off valves are leak-free; correctly positioned and installed and far enough away from your home's doors, drains, windows, and appliances.
  • Water Installation Certificate (WIC): While a WIC isn't a full plumbing certificate capable of detecting all plumbing defects, it can prove that your home's water installations align with municipal and building guidelines to prevent leakage. It can also prove that your home's sewage system has no rainwater contamination or cross-connection between your home's potable water supply and greywater/groundwater system.

How do I obtain these certificates?

In most cases, an accredited service provider (with a registration number) must issue, sign and date your certificates. Here's who is responsible for each certificate type:

  • Electrical Compliance Certificate (ECC): A registered electrical contractor must issue the certificate.
  • Borer Beetle Certificate (BBC): A qualified and certified wood borer inspector who’s a member of the South African Pest Control Association must issue the certificate.
  • Electrical Fence System Compliance Certificate (EFSCC): Only an electrician that's a member of the South African Electrified Fencing Installers Association, registered with the Department of Labour, and qualified on electric fence laws can issue the certificate.
  • Gas Compliance Certificate (GCC): A registered professional from the Liquified Petroleum Gas Safety Association of South Africa must issue the certificate.
  • Water Installation Certificate (WIC): A registered and accredited plumber must issue the certificate.

Getting a compliance certificate for the home you're selling or the one you've just purchased is only one step in what can be a fairly complex property buying and selling process. For assistance with understanding what your other responsibilities are when selling or buying a home, SA Home Loans can assist you. For more information, contact our team today at 0860 2 4 6 8 10 or complete our Call me back form and we'll be in touch.

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