When Dishonesty Bites Back - Selling Property | Legal Articles


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When Dishonesty Bites Back - Selling Property

Most of us have heard or read about the saying that says “crime does not pay.” What this means in essence is that it robs the offender of personal peace, exposes him/her to numerous risks before, during and after the commission of the crime. The offender will constantly have to sleep with one eye open wondering when the long arm of the law will eventually catch up with him/her. It goes without saying also that crime dents one's image as an upright citizen in society which may prevent one from securing future employment. The arm of the law is long and more often than not, it eventually catches up to settle the scores. In conducting business transactions, honesty is vital and where one acts dishonestly, the aggrieved party may seek legal recourse. In this article we shall discuss the requirement of property sellers to disclose defects when they sell their properties.

latent defects in property

Obligation of Property Sellers Disclosure

In the case of Le Roux v Zietsman and Another (330/202) [2023] ZASCA 102 (15 June 2023), the applicant had sold a property to the respondent, which they intended to use as a lodge. It was put before the Court that when the respondents purchased the property they conducted an inspection (as most buyers would do before they purchase). The respondents noticed some areas of concerns that seemed as if the roof leaks. Upon inquiry the applicant advised that the roof had been repaired and was in good working condition. The purchase and sale transaction consequently proceeded, only for the respondents to realise barely three months later that the entire roof leaks. The respondents then decided to institute legal action against the applicant. A civil engineer was roped in where after it was found that the leaking problems emanated even from the time the property was constructed, underlying structural defects. The respondents allege that this was never disclosed to them when they purchased the property.

The Property Practioners Act 2019

The Property Practitioners Act 22 of 2019 (the PPA) places an obligation on sellers to disclose to prospective buyers whether or not there are defects on the property before the purchaser buys the property. In fact, a disclosure form is now compulsory where the seller must disclose such information. Such disclosure of information regarding defects, especially latent defects, is important as it definitely will guide the purchaser in deciding on whether to proceed with the purchase of the property or not. Therefore, where a seller, fraudulently so, does not divulge such crucial information to the prospective purchaser, it may result in legal action being taken against the seller and the purchaser may claim damages according to their loss.

Van Deventer & Van Deventer Incorporated  - Property Law Attorneys South Africa

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