Seller ad­vice: Sec­tional Ti­tle units need cer­tifi­cates too

Weekend Post (South Africa) - - NEIGHBOURHOOD - www.cha­severitt.co.za

In terms of the Oc­cu­pa­tional Health & Safety Act, all home own­ers are sup­posed to have a valid Elec­tri­cal Cer­tifi­cate of Com­pli­ance (ECOC) – and must cer­tainly be able to pro­duce one when sell­ing their prop­erty, or the trans­fer to a new owner will not be able to be reg­is­tered.

More re­cently, it has also be­come com­pul­sory for home own­ers to hold com­pli­ance cer­tifi­cates for any elec­tric fence or gas in­stal­la­tions on their prop­er­ties, while in the Western Cape, a by-law re­quires a wa­ter in­stal­la­tion cer­tifi­cate to be pro­vided to the lo­cal au­thor­ity when sell­ing a prop­erty, be­fore the owner can ob­tain the mu­nic­i­pal clear­ance cer­tifi­cate re­quired for trans­fer.

How­ever, while all of these cer­tifi­cate re­quire­ments ap­ply to Sec­tional Ti­tle (ST) prop­er­ties as well as free­hold prop­er­ties, the ST home owner is ac­tu­ally only re­spon­si­ble for com­pli­ance within his or her sec­tion.

The body cor­po­rate, rep­re­sented by the trus­tees, is re­spon­si­ble for en­sur­ing the com­pli­ance of any rel­e­vant in­stal­la­tions on the com­mon prop­erty, such as se­cu­rity light­ing, gate mo­tors, elec­tric fences and any ex­ter­nal taps, wa­ter pipes and ir­ri­ga­tion sys­tems, and for ob­tain­ing the nec­es­sary com­pli­ance cer­tifi­cates.

So in prac­tice, ST own­ers who want to sell their prop­er­ties need to ob­tain copies of the body cor­po­rate's ECOC and other cer­tifi­cates and sub­mit them to the trans­fer at­tor­neys along with the orig­i­nals of the cer­tifi­cates that per­tain to their own units.

And this is not al­ways as easy as it sounds. Cer­tifi­cates can get lost, and some­times they are not re­placed when nec­es­sary, or not ob­tained at all. Own­ers who are not sell­ing and don't need copies of valid com­mon prop­erty cer­tifi­cates may ar­gue against the cost of ob­tain­ing new ones.

For­tu­nately, the sit­u­a­tion is likely to im­prove as more and more schemes be­gin to im­ple­ment Reg­u­la­tion 22 of the Sec­tional Ti­tles Schemes Man­age­ment Act, which came into ef­fect a year ago. This reg­u­la­tion pro­vides for ev­ery ST scheme to have a writ­ten 10-year main­te­nance for all ma­jor items or sys­tems on the com­mon prop­erty – in­clud­ing those that will re­quire new or up­dated com­pli­ance cer­tifi­cates when they are re­paired or re­placed. What is more, Reg­u­la­tion 2 of the Act pro­vides for the body cor­po­rate, made up of all the own­ers, to es­tab­lish a re­serve fund to fi­nance the main­te­nance plan – so there should be no more dis­putes about who should pay for which re­pairs or which cer­tifi­cates.

But it is prob­a­bly go­ing to take a while for all the re­serve funds and main­te­nance plans to be put in place, and un­til then, ST own­ers who plan to sell would be well ad­vised to start gath­er­ing up all the com­pli­ance cer­tifi­cates they need as soon as pos­si­ble.

Mean­while, ST own­ers who be­grudge the cost of a new com­pli­ance cer­tifi­cate for a com­mon prop­erty in­stal­la­tion should con­sider what could hap­pen if some­one were to be electrocuted, for ex­am­ple, or there was a fire caused by an elec­tri­cal short, and the in­sur­ance re­jected any claim for dam­ages be­cause the sys­tem was not cer­ti­fied safe.

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