2 September 2011 by

Plumbing certificates for Cape Town

Under Section 14 of the City of Cape Town Water By-Law, 2010 (By-Law), promulgated on 18 February 2011, a seller is legally obliged to obtain a plumbing certificate from an accredited plumber, confirming that his property (situated within the jurisdiction of the City of Cape Town) conforms to certain requirements. These requirements generally aim to combat, among others, water wastage and water pollution.

Section 14 of the By-law reads as follows:

"Transfer of ownership

  1. The seller must, before transfer of a property, submit a certificate from an accredited plumber certifying that:
    1. the water installation conforms to the national Building Regulations and this By-law;
    2. there are no defects;
    3. the water meter registers; and
    4. there is no discharge of stormwater into the sewer system.
  2. The certificate referred to in subsection (1) must be in the format of the form attached as Schedule 4."

The certificate need only be submitted to the Cape Town municipality (via fax or email), but both seller and buyer's names must be inserted, together with the signature of the accredited plumber.

The parties can clearly agree who is to carry the costs. If you follow the electrical compliance certificate principle, it will probably be for the seller's account, as it will be difficult to estimate if there is any remedial work to be effected before the certificate is issued. The deed of sale needs to highlight this obligation. Failure on the part of the seller to do so, will render him liable to a fine and/or a criminal sanction.

Section 11 of the By-law states that it is the responsibility of the owner to ensure compliance with the By-law in respect of all or any matters relating to the water installation and maintenance thereof and theta the consumer is responsible for compliance with the By-Law in respect of matters relating to wastage or other abuse of any water.

Furthermore, Section 64 of the By-law reads:

"Any person who:
(a) contravenes or fails to comply with any provision of this By-law;
(b) fails to comply with any notice issued, or lawful instruction given, in terms of this By-law; or
(c) obstructs or hinders any authorised representative or employee of the City in the execution of his or her duties under this By-law, is guilty of an offence and is, on conviction, liable to a fine or term of imprisonment not exceeding five years or both such fine and term of imprisonment."

What's more, anyone that contravenes this By-law is liable to compensate the City of Cape Town for any loss or damage suffered as a result of the breach committed. The City may recover costs incurred in taking any measures in terms of the By-law, from anyone who was under a duty to comply with this By-law but failed to do so, including the owner, consumer or anyone on whom a compliance notice was served.

Parties to a property sale agreement are obliged to comply or they will be in contravention of the By-law. It would be prudent to use an accredited plumber, and so ensure all obligations are met.

Simone Franks

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