Judge orders a R400 000 damp repair on a ‘voetstoots’ deal

A judge from the Gauteng High Court in Pretoria recently ordered a home seller to pay the new owner R400 000 to repair a damp problem that left the house smelly and unpleasant even though it was a ‘voetstoots’ deal.

“A voetstoots clause is not absolute, and the failure of a seller to disclose factual information about the subject of the sale will not be protected under the voetstoots clause.” – Pieter Steenkamp, SVN Attorneys.

According to IOL, Molatelo Maloka thought she had bought a dream home, but what she found was a damp, smelly house with sagging cupboards and bubbling and cracking paint.

The sellers claimed they were not aware of these problems when they sold the house; that the property was sold “voetstoots” to the plaintiff in any event. Thus, they argued, they were protected by the voetstoots clause against latent defects that were unknown to them. The court found, however, that because the latent defects were known to the defendants, they could not be protected by the voetstoots clause in the offer to purchase.

These included damp on the floors of the main bedroom and two guest bedrooms, as well as rising and lateral damp on all the walls of the property, including the main bedroom, kitchen, dining room, study and spare bedrooms. Maloka said the sellers had a duty to inform her about this when she expressed her interest in buying the house.

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