Voetstoots won't save you

Owners are being both short-sighted and dishonest if they neglect to tell prospective buyers of their home about its defects.

“There is in the property market a widespread belief that the seller can hide behind the voetstoots clause,” says Tony Clarke, MD of Rawson Properties.

But, he says, the law on these matters makes it clear that if a buyer can prove that you as the seller knew of the defect — or should have known because it was fairly obvious — you can be taken to court and made to pay for the cost of repairs and the inconvenience caused.

You'll be found out

"The honest and wise course to take, therefore, is to disclose upfront all defects or suspected defects and to put these in writing.”

Lawyers and valuers put defects into two categories — latent and patent, the hidden and the obvious; however, it is sometimes difficult to distinguish between a latent and a patent problem.

Yet "property history has shown that those hiding defects are frequently found out".

For example, the owner of a swimming pool which leaked badly, about which he professed to know nothing, was trapped by evidence that he had consulted a local pool expert on the matter, while damp and leak problems which crop up in winter can usually be proved to have existed for some time.

Reveal the defects

Clarke says that sellers are obliged to reveal not only defects in your home but also any existing or proposed changes to the nearby precinct which could alter the value and appeal of the house.

For example, if a retail complex or taxi rank is to be given the go-ahead nearby or if roads in the area are to be enlarged, closed off or rerouted, this information should form part of the comprehensive legal disclosure requirements.

This is also partly the job of estate agents, who need to be very thorough in their examination of a home and in this way help the seller to comply with the legal disclosure requirement.

Article from: www.iafrica.com