Advice to estate agents: How to protect yourself from the Consumer Protection Act

It has to be admitted that in the absence of a body of case law on the subject, many estate agents still have no clear ideas on how the courts will interpret the newly legislated Consumer Protection Act when it is applied to property matters.

Many agencies, including my own, are now "playing it safe" and taking precautions not to find themselves on the wrong side of the Act.

But what does playing it safe involve?

It means that the agent has to go through the house with the seller and list, in writing, every defect that they are aware of. Then this has to be shown to the buyer and discussed with him. This "defect list" should be used as an addendum to the agreement and signed by both the buyer and seller.

Any hidden or undisclosed problems, for example, damp patches that might not be that evident in a dry period - and then revealed later - could result in the seller having to pay compensation.

It is important to note that the agent, being part of the "supply chain" in legal terms, could be legally culpable in cases of inadequate disclosure, whereas the seller, home selling not being his daily occupation, could be exonerated.

What happens, however, if a defect was not evident at the time of the inspection or at any stage during the seller's occupation of the home?

In these cases, the old "voetstoots" clause would still apply; however the courts may disagree on this issue, especially if property comes to be seen in the same light as items such as machinery, where latent defects, once detected, will definitely become the responsibility of the distributor and the manufacturer.

The really important point to grasp is that agents must list all the known defects and this list must not only be comprehensive, but completely honest too.

  Comment on this Article

  Please login to post comments

Post to my facebook wall
Characters remaining

    Latest Property News
    • 21 Jun 2018
      Anyone who’s ever been involved in a building project that’s gone wrong will appreciate the importance of adequate insurance cover in the construction industry.
    • 21 Jun 2018
      A recent news story about a blind tenant caught in a legal battle with his body corporate over letters and notices he was unable to read and consequently comply with has raised the question: what are the legal obligations for landlords with disabled tenants?
    • 21 Jun 2018
      A trend that’s taken the world by storm in recent years is that of hygge (pronounced: hue-guh), a Danish concept that is about creating intimacy, connecting with loved ones and taking pleasure in small, ordinary things.
    • 20 Jun 2018
      Buying or selling real estate isn’t as easy as it is portrayed sometimes, especially if there is a death of a party during the transaction which can make it awkward, tricky and inconvenient.
    • 20 Jun 2018
      With interest rates remaining at historic lows and banks continuing to compete for mortgage finance business, first-time buyers with funds at their disposal are currently well-placed to gain that initial foothold on the property ladder, particularly in the light of the slightly lower growth rates currently experienced in residential property values.
    • 20 Jun 2018
      The average size of bond granted in SA has grown 7,7% in the past 12 months to R934 000, according to BetterBond, the country’s biggest bond originator.
    • 19 Jun 2018
      In the current market, letting out a property can be a good option as rental demand remains strong, especially in the northern suburbs of Johannesburg. This is according to Chris Renecle, MD of Renprop. However he says that before homeowners let their property out, there are five key points they should make sure are covered before they market the property for rent and sign any lease agreements.
    • 19 Jun 2018
      The Capetonian dream is to live by the ocean with the iconic mountain making an appearance somewhere in the horizon. But, that dream comes with a hefty price tag that many simply cannot afford. But, should you venture some kilometres out of the city centre, entirely new realms of beachside bliss await you …
    Subscribe to the MyProperty Newsletter

    Last Name  
    Email Address  
    Email Frequency
    Share this Page

    For Sale Property
    Rental Property
    More Options
    Connect with us