Homebuyers beware - if the rates and water bills are not paid, you could face a problem

Regular warnings by spokespeople for the real estate industry about the danger of trying to move into a property on which the rates or the water/services bills have not been paid have gone unnoticed by many buyers, says Anton du Plessis, CEO of Vineyard Estates.

“It is legally impossible to take transfer of a property without a rates clearance certificate from Council, but sometimes where the seller cannot afford to do so, the buyer will offer to make these payments on the seller’s behalf provided he can then knock the amount outlaid off the purchase price.

“That apparently logical step can, however, lead to problems because there is always a chance that the seller has already secretly done a preliminary sales deal with another buyer, or ceded it to another member of his family. There are dozens of ways in which he could still duck out of the sale – even though the sale agreement has been signed.”

Du Plessis said that he had known cases where the unpaid rates had been over R100 000. He has recently had a case involving an expensive home where the purchaser moved into the property a month before the anticipated transfer date. Despite being given repeated reminders to pay his R75 000 outstanding rates and water bills and promising to settle them, the seller neglected to do so. In desperation the purchaser then paid the outstanding amounts three days before the occupation date. Despite numerous calls to the water department advising them of the payment, and requesting reconnection, the purchaser still had to spend the first two days in his new home without running water.

“One has to ask what it is that has leads the seller to act in so irresponsible a way. If he had a temporary setback it might be understandable but this behaviour possibly points to an ongoing desire to cheat the world for his own good. The alarm bells should start ringing if one begins to suspect that is the case.”

Article from: www.vineyardestates.co.za