Author: Matthew Davidse
In a drought-prone country, purchasing a property with an independent source of water in the form of a borehole can be very attractive.
While the focus of this article will briefly relate to the administrative requirements regarding borehole installations in the City of Cape Town (“the City”), any installation of a borehole must comply with notification, registration and safety requirements as embodied within and by the by-laws of each municipality in South Africa.
The purpose of registering a borehole ensures that the usage of any underground water source remains sustainable and safe. Therefore, before buying a property with a borehole, it would be prudent to determine whether the seller has registered the installation of their borehole with the City.
The City requires at least a 14-day notice should an owner wish to install/drill a borehole on their erf. Should permission be received to install same, the borehole must be registered once the installation has been completed. The erf number and municipal account number would be required by the City for registration of the borehole. Once registered, an owner would receive a weatherproof sign from the City, which must be placed on the outside of the property (and be visible from the street). The sign notifies the public that borehole water is being utilised and is not suitable for human consumption. The registration number of the borehole would also be noted on the sign.
Is it a requirement to provide a borehole certificate prior to registration of transfer?
It is not a requirement for an owner to provide a registration certificate for a borehole to either the City or a purchaser in Cape Town prior to registration of transfer. Unless the purchaser requests it and same is noted in the offer to purchase, no obligation exists. Should there not be a certificate of registration, the purchaser could request that the seller register the borehole with the City prior to registration of transfer, at the seller’s own cost. The request must be noted in the offer to purchase accordingly.
Liability to ensure that water from the borehole not be contaminated by any other source lies with the current owner of the property, irrespective of whether a sale is concluded or not.
If the purchaser requires a bond to purchase the property, a bank may require that the borehole be registered prior to registration of transfer and a certificate provided to prove same. It is thus recommended that a seller obtains proof of registration of the borehole from the City prior to placing their property on the market, to avoid potential delays in the transfer process.
What is important to note is that registration certificates from the local municipality do not guarantee that a borehole is in perfect working condition. Rather, a certificate notes that the borehole was correctly and safely installed. It is therefore prudent to include in the offer to purchase which party would be responsible for the issuing of outstanding certificates or should repairs to the borehole be required, which party would be responsible for this prior to registration of transfer. Should you wish to register a borehole with the City, visit the municipality’s website for details.