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Certificates of compliance: What all buyers & sellers need to know

The home seller is legally obligated to have certificates of compliance, which show that the home is in working order. What are they and how are they obtained?

Certificates of Compliance

Article summary

  • Certificates of compliance serve as proof that the home is in working order.
  • The seller is obligated to have these certificates in possession before the transfer of property can go ahead.
  • Certificates can only be issued by registered professionals following an inspection.

Whether selling or buying a home, you need to know about the certificates of compliance, which serve as proof that a home is in working order.

Note Before buying a house, you should find out what home loan you qualify for. You can use our Bond Calculator to determine this.

Here’s what you need to know about certificates of compliance.

What are certificates of compliance?

These are the five documents that the seller is legally obligated to have in possession before selling a home.

These certificates confirm that the property is in working order. A buyer will definitely want the peace of mind that comes with knowing the seller has these certificates in possession.

The five certificates are:

  • Electrical Certificate of Compliance: Ensures that all electrical work conforms to regulation standards.
  • Electrical Fence Certificate: If there is an electric fence installed, it requires separate certification from the rest of the electrical grid.
  • Water Installation Certificate: Ensures that water regulation conforms to National Building Regulations.
  • Gas Certificate of Compliance: Ensures that all gas installations are in order, such as gas-powered stoves, fires and geysers.
  • Beetle-free certificate: Confirms that there are no beetles eating into the wooden structures.

How do I get a certificate of compliance?

The certificates can only be issued by registered professionals, and are dependent on an inspection being performed to ensure the home qualifies for the said certificate.

For example, the Electrical Certificate of Compliance has to be issued by a registered electrician; the Water Installation Certificate has to be issued by a registered plumber, and so on.

How long are certificates of compliance valid?

This varies depending on the certificate.

The Electrical Certificate of Compliance is valid for two years.

The Gas Certificate of Compliance is valid for five years.

The Water Installation Certificate is valid for six months.

Some certificates, such as the  Electrical Certificate of Compliance and the Water Installation Certificate, need to be renewed after changes are made to the property.

When must the certificate of compliance be obtained?

Before the transfer of property, which will not be allowed without the certificates in possession. However, most sellers will want to obtain them earlier in order to assure the buyer. The buyer may also request that certificates be renewed in the offer to purchase.

How much does a certificate of compliance cost?

There are a number of organisations that offer inspection services. The estimated cost will usually be R500 — R1000 per certificate (R850 — R1500 for the Electrical Certificate of Compliance), depending on the size of the property and the location.

What buyers need to know

Sellers are responsible for acquiring the certificates of compliance, but buyers need to be aware of their significance as well. The certificates provide peace of mind to the buyer, although the buyer should always arrange for a property inspection prior to purchase, regardless of the certificates.

As mentioned, sellers are required by law to have certificates prior to the transfer of property. However, the buyer can request the certificates be obtained earlier in the offer to purchase.

Note The beetle certificate is actually not required by law, but the buyer is advised to request that the seller obtain one in the offer to purchase.

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