Consumer Protection Act will affect property marketers

Another senior member of the Cape estate agency fraternity has found it necessary to warn staff that when the Consumer Protection Act comes into full force on 25th October this year, property marketers will find themselves “in a new ballpark”.

Talking to all Greeff Properties agents, Simon Raab, Southern Suburbs manager, warned them that, as the aim of the new Act is to promote a fairer, more accessible and more sustainable marketplace in which the less well informed and less educated clients are better protected, they (the agent) will have to take it upon themselves to ensure that sellers and, more particularly, buyers, have fully understood the meaning of the wording and legal effect of such wording contained within all mandate agreements and contracts into which they have entered.

Furthermore, said Raab, if in any way the quality of the product or the service rendered falls short of generally accepted high standards, the customer will from November onwards, be entitled to claims, replacements or even to a total cancellation of the agreement. Consumers will also have an opportunity to approach the National Consumer Commission instead of the Magistrate's or High Courts, which in itself will encourage more action being taken when damages can be proven.

“The wording of the Act,” said Raab, “makes it clear that all in the ‘supply chain’ can be held responsible. This, as I read it, implicates the agent as well as the manufacturer or, in the property world, the seller and/or valuer.”

Exactly how the new Act will impact on the voetstoots clause (which offers protection in favour of the seller against frivolous claims made by purchasers), said Raab, will have to be worked out but it is absolutely clear that full and total disclosure of the fittings, fixtures, operational systems and defects of a property, both obvious and latent, will now be necessary and that it will soon be essential not just to put these in writing but to explain them carefully to the clients. It might even be necessary for all sellers of property to disclose whether properties are compliant with building plan and zoning restrictions.

“Ultimately,” said Raab, “this legislation will work to the benefit of all concerned because it will result in more transparent, open dealings coupled to strong deterrents against any form of misrepresentation.”

Raab added that the Act does not in any way do away with the basic stipulation that all property deals have to be in writing – but it will make it necessary to ensure that the wording of these deals is clearer and simpler than in the past. Greeff Properties, he said, would be consulting with their lawyers on this matter.

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