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WCLawyer, Attorney
Category: South Africa Law
Satisfied Customers: 15603
Experience:  L.LB (UOVS)
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If I buy an old house with the idea of renovating it, is it

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If I buy an old house with the idea of renovating it, is it possible to take ownership without first spending a fortune to obtain a electrical certificate of compliance? I was told that the Electrical Installation Regulations prohibit the change of ownership without this certificate.
Good day and thank you for your question. My name is XXXXX XXXXX I will try and assist you today.

In order to provide you with the most accurate answer, I may have to ask you a lot of questions. This may seem tedious and irrelevant, but trust me, there is a reason for every question. So please be patient throughout the process and if it takes a little long for me to come back to you, it is probably because I am researching your answer. I hope that is okay.

Are you aware of the fact that the seller is responsible for this certificate? Or does your contract state otherwise?
Customer: replied 4 years ago.

Yes, I.m aware of that, but it is an old house and if he first have to spend money to get it at an acceptable level and I will change the total outlay it will just add to the price and further delays. Remember the idea is to totally renovate house and it will include electrical wiring and fittings.

Is someone going to live in the house after transfer?
Customer: replied 4 years ago.
Customer: replied 4 years ago.

Yes, but why is it important?

Customer: replied 4 years ago.

I am still waiting for a response since I've answered your last question. Am I doing something wrong on the system? Hopefully you have received my reply where I indicated the idea is to either let it or sell it at a profit. Also what difference will it make if nobody lives in the house? Maybe use it as an office block.

You are not doing anything wrong, I was just away from the computer. Apologies.

I am researching your answer at the moment. I will be back shortly.
I am sorry that you had to wait so long. I have found an advocates opinion that was obtained through the Law Societies in Gauteng that seems to suggest that the issuing of an electrical electrical certificate is not necessary for transfer. Technically, this is true. I cannot find anything in the Deeds Registry Act that says that a Conveyancer is obligated to get such a certificate in order to present the transfer documentation to be processed.

The Occupational Health and Safety Act, however, says in the regulations that no person may transfer a property without first obtaining such a certificate. The regulations also state that any person who does, is guilty of an offence, penalized by 12 months imprisonment as well as a fine of R 200 per day for every day that the offence is continued. I also cannot find any exceptions to this rule that is applicable here.

A conveyancer, as the agent of the seller, would probably also be charged under that regulation. I am therefore of opinion that no conveyancer will take a chance in giving transfer without such a certificate.

I think you should look at something to be included in the sale agreement whereby the electrical work that is to be done is to be subtracted from the sale price.

I know that this is probably not the answer that you have hoped for, however, I hope that you can still get some value out of it. I try my best to provide you with a legally sound and accurate answer and however much it pains me, it is not always good news. Trust me when I say that I wish I could provide you with a more optimistic answer. If you have follow up questions before you rate, feel free to ask them at no extra cost. If you are satisfied with the service, kindly rate it positively. I do not get anything unless you rate the service.
Customer: replied 4 years ago.
It is difficult to believe there is no way around this. I see the regulations refer to user or lessor, but not owner. What will position be if before transfer the supply of electricity is terminated and owner receive deposit back from Eskom. The property at the time of transfer is not connected and it cannot be reconnected before a certificate is obtained on the new installation.
The definition of user in the act does not, in so many words, include owner, but the regulation is clear that no transfer of ownership (change of ownership) may take place without such a certificate having been obtained in the prescribed manner. This also answers your second question, since the action that necessitate the issue of an electrical certificate is transfer of ownership, not the use or disuse of those electrical installations.

Item 9 of the Regulation says under which circumstances a certified person is allowed to issue a certificate of compliance.

(2) A registered person may issue a certificate of compliance accompanied by the required test report only after having satisfied himself or herself by means of an inspection and test that—
(a)a new electrical installation complies with the provisions of regulation 5 (1) and was carried out under his or her general control; or
(b)an electrical installation which existed prior to the publication of the current edition of the health and safety standard incorporated into these Regulations in terms of regulation 5 (1), complies with the general safety principles of such standard; or
(c)an electrical installation referred to in paragraph (b), to which extensions or alterations have been effected, that—
(i)the existing part of the electrical installation complies with the general safety principles of such standard and is reasonably safe, and
(ii)the extensions or alterations effected comply with the provisions of regulation 5 (1) and were carried out under his or her general control.

The only other thing I can think of that can possibly work is if you remove all electrical installations in the house and the official can certify that there are no electrical installations in the house. I don't know whether this is practical or not, but that is an option.

I know that popular culture dictate that every law has a loophole, but in this case, this does not seem to ring true unfortunately.
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