Written for Property Poser

This week, the Property Poser experts assist a reader who is struggling to get final approval from the homeowners’ association for his newly built home in a security estate.

Without it, the local council will not issue a certificate of occupancy.

The reason given by the HOA for withholding approval is that landscaping needs to be completed, including putting grass down.

The reader argues that the road in front of his house is still under construction and that he will sort out the landscaping issue once this road has been finalised.

Despite not having the letter of occupancy in hand, the reader still proceeded to move into the property and, shortly thereafter, the electricity was disconnected.

The HOA directed correspondence to the reader, via an attorney, that he must remove all his furniture from the property because he does not have the required occupancy certificate.

In terms of the National Building Regulations and Building Standards Act, an occupation certificate is compulsory for every building before occupation, says Sean Radue of Radue Attorneys in Port Elizabeth.

“This is to ensure that certain relevant building requirements have been met and thereby safeguard the owner and other occupants.”

Radue says the requirements before such a certificate may be issued include approved building plans, a completion certificate from a registered structural or civil engineer, a roof truss certificate, an electrical certificate of compliance and a glazing certificate.

“The list continues, but what is clear is that the most important aspect is whether or not the building complies with basic safety standards, not whether or not the aesthetics of the dwelling are pleasing.”

Radue says the reader has not supplied further information about whether there are any other potential issues with the property.

“However, a requirement that the landscaping and laying of grass be completed doesn’t appear to be proper and sufficient grounds upon which to withhold approval.”

According to Schalk van der Merwe from Rawson Properties in Somerset West, Cape Town, it could be that the HOA would like to ensure that all dwellings in the estate are of similar appearance and in a reasonable state.

“Therefore, they could be using the approval, or lack thereof, as a bit of an enforcement measure.”

Van der Merwe says the reader should perhaps approach the local authority to arrange for an inspection by a building inspector and to check whether all the relevant requirements have been met for an occupation certificate.

“The possible requirements of the HOA are a separate issue and he needs to determine whether these are part of the constitution and rules of the association.”

If so, the reader is still ultimately bound by these requirements, says Van der Merwe.

“He has a number of possible remedies available to him regarding the abrupt disconnection of the electricity supply. But this is obviously a secondary issue to the HOA’s demand that he vacate his home immediately.”

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