Question posted in the Property Law category relating to Mpumalanga
We bought a house voetstoots; we signed but we are still in the transfer process, submission at the deeds office. We were allowed occupation before completing transfer, a week ago. We discovered multiple defects, leaks from the roof and shower with resultant damp. We also discovered that the electrical wiring does not appear up to standard so we started doubting the validity of the COC. We hired a home inspector to determine the extent of the defects. The estimated repairs to the roof and shower alone is over R150 000 excluding the damage from the leaks. The seller did not disclose anything. We viewed the house during COVID-19 lockdown so we were limited according to safety protocols. We discovered now that wherever we see the damp is where furniture was positioned. Would it be possible to cancel the sale?
Answer to the Question
Hi there and thank you for your question,
I am a practicing attorney based in South Africa and I will assist you with your question. Please feel free to ask as many follow up questions in order to clarify your question. If you have a new question, you must please open a new thread.
Regarding the roof leaks and shower leaks, if the seller knew about these issues and didn't disclose the issues to you when you saw the house, that's a problem for the seller because it means that you can get the issues fixed and then hold the seller liable for the costs! But, if the seller never knew about the issues, then you can't hold them liable. Also, if the seller knew that there was an issue, and tried to fix it, and thought that he did fix it, then you can't hold him liable. If you want to read more about this it is called latent / patent defects.
Regarding the electrical installation, you should be able to rely on the COC. If you think that there is something wrong, you must call in the company who gave the COC to rectify it, and then charge the seller. Otherwise, you must get your own electrician in to fix it and then hold the seller liable. Just be careful, because just because you think that some wiring is not up to standard doesn't mean that it isn't. Electrical standards have also increased in recent years, so old houses might still have old wiring etc.
The seller only has to disclose if he knows that there is an issue. If he never knew of the roof leaks (doubtful) then he can't / doesn't have to disclose.
If you feel that the leaks in the roof are so serious that it warrants a cancellation of the sale, then you should take all of your documents immediately to a third party conveyancing attorney to look at, to get advice on prospects of cancellation. There are so many more questions which need to be asked and actually looked at. I can give you this advice, but I can't give you formal advice because I have not seen all of your documents and COCs, etc.
I would say that you can't cancel the sale because of the shower leak. That's too minor.
If there is a part of the answer which you need more advice on, or clarity please continue in this same thread instead of opening a new question.
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