Legal opinion on beetle certificates

Deed Of Sales Services (DOSS)

BEETLE-FREE CERTIFICATES – LEGAL

In the Western Cape and KwaZulu-Natal regions it is customary to include a clause in the Deed of Sale that the seller will provide the purchaser with a beetle-free certificate. Usually the beetle certificate is required only in respect of two types of borer beetles. These are the notorious Hylotrupes bajulus and Oxypleuris nodieri that originally found their way to our shores by way of infested timber.

An interesting point to consider regarding the beetle-free certificate is that while the certificate is usually supplied only in respect of the two types of beetle mentioned above, there are other types of borer beetle, particularly Anobium punctatum, or common furniture beetle. This latter beetle is often the most common, but is not covered by the standard wording of the beetle-free certificate.

It is not compulsory to provide for a beetle-free certificate in a deed of sale. However, in most instances financial institutions will require beetle-free certificates prior to approving a home loan. Moreover, since the deed of sale contains all the terms and conditions upon which the seller and the purchaser agree it is wise to reduce the custom of supplying the certificates in writing so as to prevent any confusion or dispute at a later stage. Thus it should be agreed which party will supply the certificates and bear the costs thereof.

Remember also that if the agreement makes no provision for providing a beetle-free certificate, and the seller was aware of beetle infestation at the time of contracting and failed to disclose it, he would not be able to rely on the voetstoots clause to avoid liability.

SUGGESTED BEETLE CLAUSE

“The seller shall arrange at his/her expense to have the accessible timbers on the property, inspected by a qualified wood borer inspector, for infestation by all wood- destroying insects, and for the replacement and/or treatment of any timbers found to be infested, in accordance with the recommendations specified by the inspector.”

Please note: Wooden fences on the property, and “Wendy houses” are generally not inspected.