Homeowners in South Africa need to beware these compliance surprises

If you ask sellers about the biggest annoyances of selling a home, chances are, compliance certificates would feature high up on the list. These government-mandated documents (certifying electrical, water/plumbing, gas, beetle and electric fences) are often thought of as meaningless bureaucratic hurdles.

Just another unnecessary property “tax” – pay a fee, get a certificate, right? Wrong.

According to Roger Lotz, franchisee for the Rawson Properties Helderberg Group, this perception is not just inaccurate, it can also cause real problems for unsuspecting sellers. “It’s becoming increasingly common for homeowners to be caught by surprise when they book a compliance inspection and find out they have a number of issues to fix,” he said.

“These remediations can involve significant expense, which is hard to stomach when the item you’re supposedly fixing didn’t appear to be broken.”

While this confusion is understandable, Lotz said the problem isn’t that unethical inspectors are taking advantage, as many assume. The reality is that compliance professionals are not there to simply check that everything is working. Their job is to ensure your home complies with essential safety regulations – and those regulations evolve over time.

“Just because your home was compliant a short while ago doesn’t mean it’s up to standard now,” said Lotz.

“Plumbing regulations, in particular, have been recently amended and even newer homes are having to make changes in order to comply. It’s obviously not ideal, as a seller, to have to foot the bill for these changes, but it’s a lot easier to handle when they don’t catch you completely by surprise.”

While Lotz notes that real estate agents are not qualified inspectors, he said they should keep tabs on the latest compliance regulations, nonetheless. As such, any good agent should be able to give homeowners some idea of what to expect from the compliance process, based on the age and condition of their home.

“We also work with a lot of compliance professionals,” he added, “and can connect sellers with companies we know deliver the best service in the best time, and at the best price. If you’re worried about being taken for a ride during the compliance process, it’s a good idea to go with a word-of-mouth recommendation.”

Above all, Lotz urges sellers to approach compliance certificates with their eyes wide open, and budget for more than just the inspection fee.

“That said, don’t be shy to ask questions,” he said. “If you’re not convinced a repair or change is necessary, you have every right to ask to see the regulations behind it. Your real estate agent should have your back if necessary, helping you get through the whole process with as little hassle – and expense – as possible.”

Read: More middle-class and wealthy people are selling their homes to leave South Africa

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Homeowners in South Africa need to beware these compliance surprises