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Who’s Responsible For Property Defects After Transfer?

One of the things that estate agents in all price categories find very difficult to handle is those situations in which, after taking transfer and moving into a home, the buyer finds something wrong with the home.

Albutt says the buyer must be on his toes when entering into a Deed of Sale, and in order to get some peace of mind, should seriously consider getting a competent inspector to check the home. Alternatively, he should make his offer conditional on such an inspector giving the home his or her approval.

This is according to Wayne Albutt, Regional Sales Manager for the Rawson Property Group in the Western Cape, who says potential changes to various applicable legislation are being tabled, which may aid or complicate these matters further.

[clickToTweet tweet=”It will become mandatory in South Africa to have a home checked and passed by a qualified building inspector.” quote=”It will become mandatory in South Africa to have a home checked and passed by a qualified building inspector.”] At present, Albutt says certain compliance certificates are, or may be, required from registered inspectors regarding electrical, electric fences, water, wood infestation and gas compliance.

Some of these are provincially applicable, some mandatory, and others specifically required prior to a property’s ownership being transferred.

He says the aforementioned is often misunderstood by the general public, and it is often incorrectly believed that when an electrical certificate of compliance, as an example, is issued it then means that everything regarding to the property’s electrics is 100% in order.

The reality is that the certificate of compliance only certifies that the property complies with the safety standards as specified in the Electrical Installation Regulations 1992, and will not necessarily mean that the oven, stove, lights and plug points actually work, he says. The same is true about the plumbing certificate.

The reason for this is quite simple, says Albutt. “The registered certifiers are not there to check every possible feature of the home. Their task is to ensure that the home complies with the regulations, the aim of which is simply to ensure that the home is safe and meets the requirements of the applicable legislation.”

If, therefore, a fault is found later, it will be up to the buyer to rectify it at his own cost, he says.

Albutt says many buyers are not aware of this, and feel aggrieved and permitted to demand that the seller pays for the full cost of any remedial work.

If it is later made mandatory for a building inspector to approve a house, he or she will have to check for a multitude of issues: from foundational stability to compliance of plans, roof defects, boundary pegs, dampness and mould, some of which are more subjective.

It is therefore very important that buyers hire a reputable and well-trained inspector.

Albutt says the buyer must be on his toes when entering into a Deed of Sale, and in order to get some peace of mind, should seriously consider getting a competent inspector to check the home. Alternatively, he should make his offer conditional on such an inspector giving the home his or her approval.

Despite the Consumer Protection Act, which thus far has been very seldom referred to, the principles of the voetstoots still applies. This means that if after living in the home for some time, or in the case of the agent inspecting it, and the owner or agent not being aware of the defect, they cannot be held liable.”

If it can be proven that they did know of it but did not disclose this, Albutt says they could be held liable, but that is usually a very hard thing to prove.

This article “Who’s Responsible For Property Defects After Transfer?” was issued by Rawson Property Group SA.

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