When it comes to entomology certificates, there are discrepancies about what is and isn’t required. Dale Caswell of Express Fumigation and Electrical Services says that while not a legal stipulation, in the Western Cape and KwaZulu-Natal, an entomology clearance certificate is a customary requirement in a Deed of Sale. Generally banks require this clearance before transfer can take place. An entomology clearance inspection and any necessary treatments and/or tenting is usually at the seller’s expense and should usually be done before transfer.

The entomology certificate should cover all wood-destroying insects – the species vary in different areas but common ones include woodborer beetles and white ants (termites). Buyers can stipulate on the Deed of Sale which insects they want treated if this isn’t clear. Treatment recommendations will vary for different types of wood-destroying insects – most commonly gassing for borer beetles and large-scale problems, and injecting below slab level for floors infested with white ants.

After an initial inspection the inspector will inform the seller if evidence of infestation or live activity is found. If there are no live wood-destroying insects then subject to certain conditions, a clearance certificate will be issued. If infestation is found, a quote and arrangements for fumigation will follow.

During fumigation residents and all pets are required to vacate the property for 48 hours. In a block of flats, if a whole flat is being gassed, the flats above, below and on either side will need to be vacated too. Spot treatments can alleviate smaller problems.

After fumigation it’s a good idea to vacuum ceilings, accessible basement areas and areas where evidence of borer was found, as any new evidence would mean they have resumed breeding.

A seller could request a pest certificate before putting a residence on the market, but risks having to redo the certificate before transfer, as they are only valid for three months. By law pest control companies have to be registered with the Department of Agriculture. Some choose to join the South African Pest Control Association too.