Selling or Buying a House? Make sure the Plans are up to date!
I often get asked whether you need a set of plans to sell your house here in South Africa. I also get called a lot to get illegal / 'as built' additions and buildings approved at Council. Fortunately Johannesburg Council is a lot more relaxed than elsewhere in the world and usually will only order demolition if you have built over a servitude or the building/addition is unsafe or poorly built.
Increasingly banks and mortgage lenders are making it a requirement for a seller to have a complete set of up to date plans and often an Occupation Certificate before granting a loan to the buyer.
It is a big risk to go ahead and build without planning permission, not only could this bite you when you want to sell your property, but your Buildings Insurance will only cover the part of your home/building that has Municipal Approval. Noncompliance also effects the banks that finance these buildings since this will severely impact on the income potential of the property, which is in most instances, the banks security. In the case of a Council taking action income can be lost and this situation can be even worse in the case of fire or structural collapse. It is understood that some banks are withholding final payment on new developments until the lender can present the bank with a valid occupation certificate.
Owners of buildings and their tenants will be prosecuted if they don’t have a valid occupation certificate. This is the message that is being sent out by most of the major metropolitan councils and the others are soon to follow. Any person or organization that occupies a building or a portion of a building without a valid occupation certificate is guilty of an offence that is punishable by law. The councils are taking action in terms of section 14 of Act number 103 that was already promulgated in 1977. Action taken against defaulters includes spot fines issued by the Fire Departments, termination of services and legal action that is taken in certain instances. Mr. Jeremy Rossouw, spokesperson for Building Inspection and Certification Services (BICS), said that a number of tenants and landlords that the group consulted with felt that this is, as was stated by some, “the latest money making racket of the councils”. The Metros and Local Councils are obliged to take responsibility for the safety and security of its citizens and to uphold and enforce the laws of