There are a whole host of documents and certificates that are required to prepare for your property transfer. Not knowing what they are, how and where you can get them from may delay your transfer significantly!
Conveyancers will generally obtain the regular certificates as part of their service.
Rates Clearance Certificate (“RCC”).
- The seller is responsible for ensuring that all rates and associated services have been paid and that the municipal account is up to date before selling the property.
- The Municipal Systems Act compels a seller to pay rates and all other imposts up to 5 months in advance when making application to the Council for the RCC.
- Following registration, the account is reconciled and your pro- rata excess is refunded to you, by the Council. In the past the council allowed conveyancers to attend to the apportionment; but no longer.
- A Clearance Certificate must be valid for 120 days from issue.
Electrical Compliance Certificate (“ECC”):
- The seller must obtain the ECC from a qualified electrician registered with the Electrical Contractors Board and serves as proof that your electrical installations comply with the rules of SANS.
- From May 2010 your ECC has a validity of 2 years provided that installations are correctly maintained during this period.
- Alterations to installations must be covered by a separate certificate, alternatively the entire system may be rechecked and a new certificate issued.
- Should your property suffer damage as a result of an electrical fault your insurance will require you to produce a valid certificate.
- Not being able to do so may result in the invalidity of your claim.
- Further, should a person be injured as a result of an electrical fault where no valid ECC is in place, the owner could be held liable for medical costs and damages.
Levy Clearance Certificate:
- The seller is to obtain one from the Body Corporate or managing agent acting on their behalf certifying that all levies in respect of a sectional title are paid in full.
- The certificate must be calculated and be valid for a period extending beyond the date of transfer.
- A Body Corporate can request payment of any arrear and future “special levies” as well as any unpaid “non-development penalties” before they will issue a clearance certificate. An appropriate adjustment will be made following transfer.
Gas Conformity Certificate:
- The Occupational Health and Safety Act places a duty on the seller to hold an external inspection and leak test after the installation, alteration or modification of a gas system.
- An authorized person registered with LPGAS is to certify that your gas appliances meet with the New Pressure Equipment Regulations. Appliances fitted before 1 October 2009 also fall within the scope of this Act.
- The situation remains unclear as to period of validity. It is recommended that a new one be obtained when you sell your house. In addition it may be necessary to get a certificate from the Fire Department.
- Insurance companies have be known to avoid liability for damage caused by a defective gas appliance where there is no valid Certificate.
Transfer Duty Receipt:
- This is an acquisition tax, that must be paid by purchaser on the purchase of immovable property enabling transfer of the property into the purchaser’s name.
- If the transfer does not proceed the Transfer Duty should be refunded by the Receiver.
- Payment is made by the attorneys to the Receiver of Revenue, who will issue us with a receipt.
- No transfer may be lodged at the Deeds Office without being accompanied by the Transfer Duty Receipt.
Water and Plumbing Certificates:
- The City of Cape Town has recently passed a By – Law indicating that sellers obtain valid certificates issued by accredited and registered plumbers before a transfer of a property.
- The plumber is to certify that the there are no defects; the water meter is registered and there is no discharge of storm water into the sewerage system.
- Approximately 79 000 million liters of water per year is lost from private homes and the requirement of a valid certificate helps the City of Cape Town to control wastage.
- With our water situation being what it is this is a very responsible and “green” step taken by the Cape Town Municipality to ensure that our natural resources are managed and is likely to follow on in other municipal areas.
Beetle Infestation and Inspection and Certificate of Clearance:
- Required to be produced when selling a home in coastal regions where the woodborer is commonly found and older coastal buildings where wood may not have been pre – treated.
- These beetles may destroy the structure of a building and protects the purchaser from buying into a beautiful old home, and latently finding that the structure is destroyed by woodborer.
Heritage Compliance Certificates and Building Permits:
- A recent sale was delayed because access to the property could not be obtained any way other, than by breaking through a historical and protected wall.
- A permit enabling the access was issued after 6 months by the Provincial Heritage Resources Authority Gauteng.
Bogus and Counterfeit Certificates:
- Buyers and Sellers are warned to be careful about fraudulently issued certificates.
- In the past it is very common for electrical certificates of compliance to be invalid.
- There are many cases of unhappy purchases who unwittingly accepted transfer of the property that they purchased, on the strength of an electrical certificate of compliance that was incorrect, inaccurate or simply fraudulent.
- A recent landmark case illustrates the implications of not complying with the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) Regulations: Frylinck, an environmental consultant, was recently acquitted of fraud but found guilty of misconduct in providing incorrect and misleading information to the Department of Environmental Affairs : a crime that carries a hefty maximum sentence of 2 years imprisonment or a R40 000.00 – R80 000.00 fine. Construction of the Pan African Parliament buildings in Midrand had to be halted when it was found that it had environmentally damaging effects on a wetland.
- Frylink was found to have shown “willful disregard of the required standard of conduct” required of an environmental consultant and should have appointed a wetland specialist to determine the presence of a wetland on the parliament’s building site.
- This case demonstrates that environmental consultants can be held criminally liable if their conduct violates the EIA regulations.
- Similarly, all sellers should be aware of the legal implications that the various certificates carry.
- Non–compliance could result in criminal charges and the financial burden of your insurance company refusing to pay for damage to your home.
There are several more certificates that a seller could be called upon to produce before transfer but are particular to certain transfers, eg. Occupation Certificates; Approved Building Plans and Structural Engineering Certificates. With the guidance of experienced Conveyancers you will be notified of which certificate is needed and where they may obtained from. In conclusion, if one reflects on this article, one is amazed on how many clearance certificates can be required for the sale and transfer of a property, leading to further complication and expense.
Denoon Sampson is the Director at Denoon Sampson Ndlovu Inc, currently ranked the ‘number 1’ top performing conveyancer by First National Bank Limited. He has 30 years of experience as a conveyancer, specialising in the full spectrum of property-related law and is often called upon to give talks or contribute content on related matters.