If there is an after-hours emergency where the geyser has burst or a fallen tree has damaged the roof in a storm, and one has to find the insurance policy on the home, is it in a safe place that is easily accessible?
Will the owners spend endless time hunting for the required documentation? And what would happen if the buyer had taken early occupation and urgent access is needed to the necessary documents in order to get the matter resolved quickly?
These questions were raised by a situation recently encountered by Nelio Mendes, marketing manager at SAproperty.com, who says it is vitally important to know where all the pertinent information relating to your property is, as well as who is responsible for what.
“Saying documents have been emailed to me so I know where they are, is not good, as emails are often erroneously deleted or hard drives of computers can crash,” says Mendes.
What owners of any property should do is have all the documentation pertaining to that property in one place, preferably in hard copy in a central location that is easily remembered.
Mendes says a concertina or box file is probably best, with a pocket or section labelled for each category. While it may seem onerous and unnecessary, it might ‘save’ you one day to have everything at hand quickly.
He says among the items to store in the file are:
- An information sheet with the contact details of regularly used and reliable service providers such as the family attorney, insurance broker, electrician, plumber, gardening service, domestic worker, appliance repairmen, swimming pool company, repair services, and so on.
- A copy or original title deed of the property; this document is important for the sale of a property as well as when plans might need to be drawn up for renovations to the property.
- Mortgage bond details.
- A copy of the Deed of Sale.
- Records of all improvements to the property and clearance certificates or engineers’ reports.
- Invoices detailing any major repairs done to any part of the property.
- Approved building plans.
- The latest version of the owner’s insurance on the building as well as any short-term insurance on the contents of the home.
- The latest beetle, electrical compliance, electric fence and gas compliance certificates.
- Security company contract and contact details of their technical support team as well as the emergency numbers.
In addition to documentation pertaining to the property, Mendes says personal information to be filed includes: copies of identity documents, a copy of the homeowner’s latest will (the original will be kept by the family attorney), marriage certificates, ante nuptial contract, divorce order and settlement agreement (if applicable), any policies that might be needed on the death of the owner of the property, bank account details, investment details, motor vehicle registration documents, television licence, phone contracts, etc.
Details and contracts pertaining to medical cover, tax returns, retail and municipal accounts should also be filed.
Some people do take this one step further by storing scanned copies of all important documentation in a Cloud based system online, which is probably a wise thing to do in case of a fire, says Mendes.
“Unfortunate incidents can happen suddenly and are never predictable, and it is better to eliminate all possible stresses caused by an event that leads to the need for certain documentation to be produced,” he says.