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Defect found after voetstoots sale: what can I do?

13 Jul 2015

A Property24 reader asks:

In 2015 I bought a property ‘voetstoots’. On accepting this offer, the seller said that, to his knowledge, the property had no known latent defects.

A Property24 reader found defects in his home after buying voetstoots. He wants to know if legal recourse is available.

Upon moving into the property I took measurements, and found that there were variations of 2cm to 3cm wall to wall, and from floor to ceiling.

When I raised my concerns they referred me to the voetstoots clause, saying that the variations could not have been picked up by an ordinary person, but only by a builder or an inspector. And as the seller did not know about it, he could not disclose it.

I have been living in the house for six weeks. What are my rights? And what can I do, or where can I go for help?

John Graham, Founder of HouseCheck and Principal of SAHITA, responds:

You bought the property voetstoots. I assume you then found slight variations in room measurements when comparing the "as built" structure with the approved plans.

This is highly likely to be an "unknown" latent defect, in other words, a defect of which the seller was unaware. I doubt you have a viable claim, and you should probably not pursue legal action.

If you chose to sue, the onus would be on you to prove in court that the seller knew about the incorrect dimensions and withheld this information from you. That would probably be an impossible challenge.

Buying a property voetstoots leaves a buyer with little legal recourse - read this to learn more.
About the Author
John Graham

John Graham

John Graham is the CEO of national home inspection company HouseCheck. He has a lifetime of property experience as a developer, estate agent and builder. He is also the author of the home inspection course offered by the South African Home Inspection Training Academy (www.sahita.co.za).

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