What are the seller’s rights when selling a house, especially when it comes to the transfer of property being delayed?
In most cases, a delay in the transfer of property ownership is due to the buyer failing to do something that is required of them in order for the transfer to take place.
In this article, we will be discussing the seller’s right to claim interest for delays in the transfer of property.
Generally speaking, property sale agreements should include a “mora” clause. The word “mora” means “delay” or “default” and the clause is included to prevent buyers from behaving in a way that delays the transfer of the property.
Should the transfer be delayed because of the buyer’s conduct, the seller has the right to claim interest from the buyer for damages caused by the delay.
In 2013, a case was brought to the Supreme Court of Appeal to rule whether or not a seller should be allowed to claim mora interest when there have been no specific provisions made for such a claim in the sale agreement.
The scenario was such that the buyer was provided with instruction to provide certain undertakings within a specified period of time in order for the transfer of property to be successful.
However, the buyer failed to do so and legal proceedings followed causing a delay in the transfer of the property in question.
The sale agreement included a mora clause and it was decided that the buyer would be liable to pay interest on the outstanding amount, unless the purchase price was paid before the due date.
As a result, the buyer was instructed to pay interest from the date the purchase price should have been paid until the date that it was actually paid.
The court ruled that the buyer’s obligation to provide the undertaking and to pay the purchase price are not separate obligations.
In addition, the court decided that it’s possible to claim mora interest even when there is no mora clause included in the sale agreement.
It’s important to understand the seller’s rights when selling a house, especially when it comes to claiming interest on delayed transfers.
The sale agreement places both the purchaser and the seller under certain obligations which must be fulfilled in order for the sale to finalise.
If you would like more information regarding the buyer’s and seller’s rights when selling a house in South Africa, please feel free to contact our property attorneys in Cape Town and Johannesburg.
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