Are your building plans up to date?
Did you know that it is essential to have your house in order before you sell your home and one of the things that can cause massive delays in the transfer process is an issue with building plans.
Adapted from article by Private Property
The Law requires that all homeowners must ensure that buildings on their property are on the building plan. Furthermore, all plans must be approved by the relevant local authorities. When selling your property you need to bear in mind that the seller cannot pass the buck to the buyer (unless prior permission - in writing - has been given).
Never assume that everything is above board, as there have been cases, particularly in years gone by, where the municipality may have overlooked the odd transgression here and there - perhaps plans in your possession are not an accurate reflection of what is actually on the property.
In the past a municipal authority would place a block on issuing a rates clearance certificates if plans were not correct. This would result in extensive delays in the transfer process, since the transfer cannot proceed without rates clearance. This situation has once again re-emerged, and according to Carol Reynolds of Pam Golding, they have had several transfers being held up because plans have not been fully complied with, and the Municipality has therefore refused to issue rates clearance certificates.
One of the recent factors to keep in mind when selling your home, is that energy regulations have changed. This means that buildings that would have been compliant several years ago may not be compliant in terms of today’s regulations. As an example of this, they have had several cases where property sellers inherited a property with old outbuildings. The out buildings were not reflected on the plans and they are now being forced to submit plans for these existing outbuildings, only to find that they do not comply with the new energy saving regulations. In some cases, sellers have had to add extra glazing, and so on, to ensure compliance.
If you should find yourself in this situation, there are certain recommendations that can assist you in resolving a potential crisis before it happens. According to a Smith Tabata Buchanan Boyes (STBB) newsletter seller have three options from which to choose:
1. Obtain approved plans for all unapproved buildings/additions: You will need a site plan of the unapproved buildings and submit the plan with your online application for approval to your local authority.
2. Sell your property subject to obtaining plan approval. You can commence marketing your property immediately, submit your plan and application and, should you receive an offer, make it subject to providing approved plans to the purchaser prior to transfer.
3. Let the purchaser acknowledge the absence of approved plans and accept liability for the risks associated therewith in the sale agreement: This would only be advisable where the purchaser intends to renovate or alter the building in which case new plans would in any event be required.
Sellers who experience problems with municipal plans should contact an attorney to get the issue resolved.