Voetstoots Clauses: Know your rights


Like many other Items, properties in South Africa can be sold “voetstoots” - but what does this mean, and does it still apply?

Before you sign a sale agreement - whether as a buyer or seller - it’s crucial to understand the concept of voetstoots. Here’s what you need to know.

Voetstoots explained

Legally speaking, voetstoots simply means that when you buy something, you buy it as is - with faults and all. More specifically, a sale agreement that contains a voetstoots clause limits the seller’s responsibility to repair damage that can't be seen during a reasonable inspection.

This is called latent damage.

By contrast, damage that is clearly visible will need to be repaired by the buyer after the sale goes through.

If you're buying a home and notice visible damage, you also have the option of asking the seller to repair it as a condition of the sale.

Voetstoots doesn't excuse dishonesty

Since the voetstoots concept relies on the seller playing open cards with potential buyers, there are times when it has been exploited by less-than-honest homeowners.

Fortunately, the law doesn't allow voetstoots to be used as a loophole to hide property damage.

  • If a seller conceals damage to the property that they are aware of before the sale, there could be legal consequences.
  • These include a partial refund of the sale price or a cancelation of the entire transaction.

In addition, the Consumer Protection Act offers buyers an additional level of protection. Since 2011, any goods sold in South Africa are expected to be in good working order - and that includes property.

This requirement makes it very difficult for sellers to avoid their responsibilities, even if a voetstoots clause is included in the sale agreement.

To avoid disputes and legal headaches, it’s essential to carry out a thorough home inspection before you make an offer to purchase.

Inspecting a property for defects

Like any important decision involving a large investment, a structural inspection is usually best left to the pros.

Before you buy a home, a full structural inspection of the main building, out buildings, walls and fences and other structures is essential. A professional home inspection company will be able to pick up signs of latent damage that may not be visible with the naked eye, giving you peace of mind when you sign your offer to purchase.

If you’re house hunting in the Cape Town area, let us take the hassle out of finding your ideal home.

Cape Realty team is on hand to assist you to find the home that suits your needs and to negotiate with sellers on your behalf. Contact us today.

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