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Freddie Lombard
Freddie Lombard, Attorney
Category: South Africa Law
Satisfied Customers: 2461
Experience:  Practicing attorney and conveyancer with 16 years post article experience.
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Latent defects Freddie,need your advise,I purchased a

Customer Question

Latent defects
Hi Freddie,need your advise,I purchased a property via the ALA (Alienation of Land Act).On the first day of occupation I came to realise that some doors inside the house are not catching when you close them and when I investigated further the home inspector said that it is due to cracks hidden via some bonding paint as well a cotton like material sticked on the wall and a paint over it, some cracks are starting to reappear.So many things I discovered days after (blocked drain,exterior cracks,roof leak at outside building,they replaced a burst geyser but didn't remove it from the ceiling. The list is endless.
I sent the Seller a letter immediately after occupation but she denies everything, however she mentioned that she relied on tenants for feedback and also that she fixed the roof two years ago.
I am struggling to seek a property sales and contracts attorney to assist me,perhaps you can shed some light and lower my stress level.
Thanking you in antic
Submitted: 11 months ago.
Category: South Africa Law
Expert:  Freddie Lombard replied 11 months ago.

Hi there

Thank you for your question. I will try to assist you in answering it today but please feel free to ask as many follow up questions as you like until you are 100% satisfied.

Normally most deeds of sale will have a "voetstoots" clause in it protecting the seller from latent defects. This clause will not however protect him/her if they knew about a defect, tried to conceal it from you and failed to mention it to you.

From what you told me of the cracks with the cotton like material and paint, it would seem that the seller most likely knew about this problem, but you will still have to prove that he/she had the knowledge. That should not be to difficult if the previous tenants are contacted and could shed some light on the problems they encountered and notified the owner of.

Having said this, you will not have to decide whether you want to cancel the deal due to this defects or if you would like to claim money from the seller in order to effect the necessary repairs. You can also claim reduction in purchase price under certain conditions.

If the transaction has not registered in the deeds office, I suggest that you get in touch with the conveyancing attorneys and inform them that they need to hold over on registration until you had time to address this issued with the seller. Most attorneys are already closed or will close down soon for the holidays and you will only be able to get assistance after 4 January 2016.

If you cannot get hold of the conveyancers then you should contact the bond attorneys or the bank if there is a bond and ask them to get the conveyancer to hold over on registration.

If the transaction has already registered, then there is no rush and you can wait until after 4 January 2016 to contact an attorney to assist you with this issue.

I hope this answered your question.

I know it will take an extra minute of your time to rate my service, but if you do not rate it, I do not get paid by the website so I would really appreciate it if you would be so kind as to rate my service positively. Feel free to ask further question here on this topic at no extra cost if you need more information.

Regards

Customer: replied 11 months ago.
Thanks Freddie,I hired the inspector after occupation and the report indicated structural defects from the foundation, hence I intend to cancel the deal as I understand they cannot be fixed.I was also advised to get a structural engineer but for now I need attorney to advise further.There's a damp found behind a toilet cistern n the tiles on that specific area of the wall was replaced and luckily the colour of those s correct in stating that, in terms of our common law relating to product liability, it consisted of the law of delict subject to contractual variation.202 The purchaser (in terms of our common law) has to prove that the replaced tiles is different which I would believe that it can mean they knew about the problem.The house needed some general maintainace and right now I can't do any because of the condition.As a result I am staying in a house that is not in good shape.So how does the dispute process work regarding proving that the seller knew about the defects?
Expert:  Freddie Lombard replied 11 months ago.

Your attorney will have to write a letter to the seller canceling the transaction. They will most likely dispute that it is valid cancellation or the seller might accept it and walk away.

If he should choose not to accept it, your only option will be to take formal legal action against the seller for cancellation of the sale.

It is extremely difficult to know how the seller will react but the more proof you can get to include in your letter, the easier he/she might accept the cancellation.

Reports from the inspector and if possible statements from previous tenants etc can help.

Please remember to rate my service positively.

Regards