What is an electric fence compliance certificate?

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An electric fence compliance certificate (EFCC) is required by South African law when selling your house. to ensure that the installation is compliant and safe. An incorrectly installed or faulty installation is hazardous and the homeowner could be held liable in the event of an injury.

The certificate is required where:

- there is a change in ownership of a property after 1 October 2012 at which property there is an electric fence; or

- there was no change of ownership but there has been an alteration or modification to an electric fence after 1 October 2012, even if it was installed before 1 October 2012.

This is only if the electric fence forms part of the property being sold and not a communal system in which case it will be the responsibility of the Body Corporate and not the individual property owner as the electric fence is shared by multiple property owners.

What is the legal requirements of the EFCC?

This is governed by Regulation 12(4) of the Electrical Machinery Regulations which were promulgated in terms of the Occupational Health & Safety Act (No. 181 of 1993).

This is a separate certificate from the Electrical COC since it falls under the provisions of a separate set of regulations and the EFC cannot be issued by an electrician. Only a person accredited by the Department of Labour and issued by the chief inspector as an electrical fence installer, may issue a C.O.C for an electric fence installation.

What is the validity period of the EFCC?

There is no mention in the legislation of the certificate being valid for a fixed time period once issued (unlike electrical certificates) and once obtained it can be transferred from one owner to the next provided of course the agreement of sale does not specify a time period and provided there were no alterations to the installation after the certificate was issued.

It is however accepted practice that the certificate is valid for 2 years from the date of issue.

What does an Electrical Fence Compliance Certificate Cost?

If the installation is compliant, the electrical fence system installer / inspector will issue a certificate at no additional cost to the inspection fee.

If the installation does not meet the regulations and standards, the inspector will report on the items and quote you on any necessary repairs.

If you accept the quotation they will arrange an appointment for the repairs to be done.

What is checked during an Electrical Fence Compliance Inspection?

Fences erected prior to 1 December 2012:

The Electrical Fence Compliance Certificate ensures that the fence:

- Is in good working order

- Cannot be easily touched by accident

- Complies with electric fence legislation at the time the fence was installed

- Electric fence owners can ensure that the fence is in good working order by conducting general maintenance on such electric fences.

The maintenance generally consists of clearing the fence of all vegetation and debris that could cause high-voltage pulses and that could lower the effectiveness of the fence, tightening wires that are visibly slackened and fixing all broken parts of the fence

Fences erected after 1 December 2012:

- Have to comply with the Electrical Security Installations Regulations (SANS 10222-3:2012) which provides for:

Wall Height: Minimum wall height of private property to be secured - 1.5 metres.

Brackets: Upright brackets may be used without any height restriction.

Angled brackets: Brackets can be angled at no more than 45 degrees out and are to be installed on the inside of the boundary wall.

Neighbours: It is not permissible to angle brackets into a neighbour’s property without their knowledge or consent.

Hazard: Electrified fences are to be installed and operated so that they cause no electrical hazard or entanglement to persons or animals.

Barbed wire or razor wire: These shall not be electrified by an energiser.

Warning Signs: Electric fencing installed along a public road or pathway shall be securely identified with YELLOW WARNING SIGNS (100 x 200 cm) at intervals not exceeding 10 meters. All gates and access points to have warning signs.

Electrified Gates: To be capable of being opened/closed without the person receiving a shock.

Distance between posts: Maximum of 3m between posts.

Earth spike: Needs to be installed every 30m. Minimum of 3 is regulatory as is lighting protection at the energiser.

Conductors (wires): Need to be terminated correctly with a ferrule or solder.

What is the procedure in obtaining an EFCC?

The regulations does not stipulate which party (buyer or seller) is responsible to obtain the certificate – and it is up to the parties to negotiate the matter of certification as well as the cost thereof.

In practice it often happens that this obligation falls to the seller in the same way as with electrical and gas certification. However, the Occupational Health and Safety Act does allow this undertaking to be transferred. Therefore a clause can be included in the sale agreement which relieves the seller of his responsibility to get certification and places an obligation on the purchaser to ensure that the system is certified as compliant at the cost of the purchaser. This may be particularly relevant where the seller is exempted from obtaining a certificate and that responsibility falls to the purchaser who wishes to use the electric fence.

Should the seller instructs a company to carry out an inspection, he/she must take care to ensure that the company has liability insurance should something go wrong, otherwise the seller may still be responsible once the buyers have moved in.

Who is responsible for Electrical Fence Compliance Certificates in Sectional Title Schemes and Gated Estates?

With sectional title properties, the electric fence is generally situated on the common property which is deemed to be body corporate property. Every owner of a section within a sectional scheme is also a member of the body corporate and is also therefore an undivided part share owner in the common property. Abrahams & Gross Attorneys is of the opinion that when a sectional unit is transferred there is also a change of ownership (even though only in part share) of the common property, and as a result of the change of ownership of property on which the electric fence is situated it will be necessary to comply with these regulations. Given that the management of common property falls within the duties of the body corporate, they are of the opinion that it is adequate for the body corporate to have a compliance certificate issued for the electric fence of the entire scheme which can be produced as and when called upon to do so. The body corporate should have a new certificate issued every time there are alterations done but it would not be necessary to have a new certificate issued every time there is a transfer within the scheme.

What happens within a gated estate that is not sectional title but free-standing erven where part of the fence is on the erf transferred (commonly referred to as home owners’ associations)?

As discussed above, the compliance with the regulations is triggered when there is a change in ownership of property on which an electric fence installation exists. Technically where there is a change in ownership of property within a home owner’s association on which an electric fence exists (typically your perimeter properties) then a certificate would need to be issued or be in place. It does however seem unfair that all of the members of a home owners association benefit from an electric fence, but only those properties on which the actual fence is built would need to have the certificate issued. As a result, A & G Attorneys view is that as in sectional schemes it would be more practical for the home owner’s association to have a certificate issued for the entire electric fence installation which can be produced as and when required in transfers.

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