Is a compliance certificate required when solar energy is used?

As more homeowners withdraw from the grid and install alternative or renewable energy systems in their homes such as solar panels, there is a bit of confusion about electrical certificates and whether they are required for these systems when buying or selling property.

Electrical Fence and Gas Compliance Certificates

According to the Conveyancing and Property Law team at Abrahams & Gross, electrical certificates are regulated by the Electrical Installation Regulations. The Regulations provide that every user or lessor of an electrical installation must have a valid certificate. When a property is sold, the owner must provide the buyer with an electrical certificate that is not older than two years.

These certificates are always required before lodgement in the Deeds Office. “Some of the banks have experts who will scrutinize Certificate of Compliance before they allow bank guarantees to be issued,”says Conveyancing Attorney Denoon Sampson, Denoon Sampson Ndlovu Inc. “

“It is therefore vitally important to avoid invalid Certificates because inevitably, the Purchaser and/or his prospective Home Loan Bank will detect an invalid or bogus Certificate. In such instances, costly delays will be incurred, because the Purchaser will request a second electrician to query and dispute the first Certificate.”

How does solar fit into electrical certificate regulations?

The Regulations explicitly make provision for electrical certificates, however, what happens in instances where property is powered by solar panels? Does solar energy fall within the ambit of the definition of “electrical installation”? Is an electrical certificate still required?

The legal definitions of an electrical installation are as follows

Abrahams & Gross says the Regulations define “electrical installation” as any machinery, in or on any premises, used for the transmission of electricity from a point of control to a point of consumption anywhere on the premises, including any article forming part of such an electrical installation irrespective of whether or not it is part of the electrical circuit, but excluding –

(a) any machinery of the supplier related to the supply of electricity on the premises;

(b) any machinery which transmits electrical energy in communication,

(c) control circuits, television or radio circuits;

(d) an electrical installation on a vehicle, vessel, train or aircraft; and

(e) control circuits of 50 V or less between different parts of machinery or system components, forming a unit, that are separately installed and derived from an independent source or an isolating transformer.

Solar is not precluded in the electrical installation definition

For purposes of this article, it is only important to note that there is nothing in this definition that will preclude solar panel control circuits from being an “electrical installation”. Therefore, it would appear that a compliance certificate will still be a requirement in instances where solar power is used.

Furthermore, the prescribed certificate of compliance as provided in the Regulations generally include solar panel installations.

Obtain a certificate of compliance for your alternative energy installation

Without much certainty in this regard, it would be beneficial for the Regulations to be updated accordingly. In the interim, however, a reasonable inference may be drawn that compliance certificates should be obtained in instances of solar power being used.

Additional certificates required include:

Beetle Certificate: Beetle certificates are no longer required by law but are standard in Western Cape and KwaZulu-Natal sale agreements. 

Electrical Fence Certificate: This is governed by the Electrical Machinery Regulations which were promulgated in terms of the Occupational Health & Safety Act. The overriding purpose of requiring an Electrical Fence Certificate is to ensure that the installation is safe. Electrical fence certificates can prove tricky with sectional title transfers. The purpose of the Electrical Fence Certificate is to ensure safety.

The Water Certificate is a City of Cape Town by-law: City of Cape Town requires all property sellers to furnish a Water Certificate.

Water Installation Certificate: In 2011, the City of Cape Town Municipality passed a new water by-law which requires that, with effect from 18 February 2011 onwards, all sellers of properties within its jurisdiction must furnish a Water Certificate or Plumbing Certificate to the municipality before transfer of ownership.

Gas Certificate: Pressure Equipment Regulations were also promulgated under the Occupational Health and Safety Act (effective October 2009), which brought gas appliances installed in properties more or less in line with electrical installations.

Speak to a conveyancing expert that has considerable expertise and experience with all matters related to buying or selling your property, including what compliance certificates are required for homeowners, or when considering leasing commercial or industrial property. 

* Disclaimer: The articles on these web pages are provided for general information purposes only. Whilst care has been taken to ensure accuracy, the content provided is not intended to stand alone as legal advice. Always consult a suitably qualified attorney on any specific legal problem or matter.

Article courtesy of property24