Horrors of buying a house

Uraeus

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May 26, 2010
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270
Hey Folks,

Was wondering if some of you folks have any advise on my situation.

My wife and I bought our first house in June of this year, and moved into the property
in October. When we first viewed the property we were made aware of some damages
to house, such as water damage to one of the rooms.

After moving into the property, we noticed there was so much more wrong with the place
that we were aware of when viewing. The Offer to Purchase did not indicate that there was any
damages. When ever it rains we can hear dripping on the ceilings, as well as the ceilings are getting
discolored. We also have to have buckets handy.

I contacted the Transfer attorneys and we had feedback from the seller, and they are only willing
to accept to pay about 20% of the total damages, as there are claiming that did not know of the
damages to the roof.

Another problem added to this, is that the sellers have moved overseas.

I have contacted a lawyer about the prospects of suing the sellers but they have indicated that the
chances of winning the case are slim in that the Offer to Purchase had a Voetstoets clause in it, as well that
the sellers are overseas.

I have been reading similar cases online where the seller knew of the defects when selling and did not disclose them, and the courts instructed the sellers to fund the repairs.

I am in a position where I need to decide whether to proceed with suing, or to fund the repair of the damages myself. The damages are on the order of R80k, and the lawyers have advised me that their fees will amount to approximately R30k.

Compounded to this, in the case I loose the case, I would have to pay the sellers lawyers fees, as well as travel and accommodation expenses, i.e. I could end up paying R100k just on lawyers fees and travel costs if I loose the case, then i would still have to fund the repair of the damages.

And as for the Consumer Protection Act, as far as I am aware it does not apply to my case, as the house was sold through an estate agent.

Any feedback would be appreciated
 

thisgeek

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Apr 22, 2005
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It sounds like you're boned, unless you want to spend a crap load of money, with the risk of not coming out on top.
The problem is the voetstoots clause. You're fortunate that the sellers are even agreeing to the 20%, as by the sounds of it, they don't really have to. But then, I'm not a lawyer, just offering my personal opinion, which has no bearing on anything anyway :p

What about your buildings insurance? Wouldn't that cover some of the problems? Although maybe not, since they may consider the problems to be "existing".
 

xrapidx

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Feb 16, 2007
Messages
39,588
Suck it up - and remember for next time.

I had the exact same problem - I'm still fixing things two years on.

(my seller was also overseas)
 

ice_cubes

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Mar 24, 2011
Messages
5,138
Fix the mess, take it as a lesson learnt.

If the seller is overseas, chances of getting anything out of them (even if you win the case) are very slim. Unless you want to fly the cops there to arrest them & drag them back to SA.
 

wetkit

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Oct 27, 2003
Messages
1,122
If you not happy, give it back and ask for a refund, estate agent or not.
You might still be liable for the transfer fees, but if you can not afford the repairs, get out now, before your 30 days is up.
 

deweyzeph

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It's almost impossible to prove that the seller knew about a problem and deliberately didn't tell you.
 

ToxicBunny

Oi! Leave me out of this...
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In such a short time frame, its actually quite easy to prove the seller knew about the issue....

When I bought my house and moved in... I found a problem with the geyser that was absolutely evident that the owner had covered up whenever someone visited, the vacuum breakers had gone so the geyser couldn't maintain pressure at all and would just GUSH water out the overflow....
 

Uraeus

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Joined
May 26, 2010
Messages
270
It sounds like you're boned, unless you want to spend a crap load of money, with the risk of not coming out on top.
The problem is the voetstoots clause. You're fortunate that the sellers are even agreeing to the 20%, as by the sounds of it, they don't really have to. But then, I'm not a lawyer, just offering my personal opinion, which has no bearing on anything anyway :p

What about your buildings insurance? Wouldn't that cover some of the problems? Although maybe not, since they may consider the problems to be "existing".


I have learnt one lesson quite well. Dont sign anything that can screw you over if things go bad.. problem is, you aint going to be signing much. I contacted the insurance promptly after we moved in, they wont cover anything as it was "pre-existing" as well as is maintenance related.

Suck it up - and remember for next time.

I had the exact same problem - I'm still fixing things two years on.

(my seller was also overseas)

I'm sorry to hear of your situation aswell. I never envisioned that I would have to spend so much fixing things on the house, last thing I want to do is end up paying the house over 20 years.

If the insurance company can successfully prove it as existing... then you can hand that to the seller :D

They did prove it is existing, then the question will be asked "Why didnt you see it?".

Fix the mess, take it as a lesson learnt.

If the seller is overseas, chances of getting anything out of them (even if you win the case) are very slim. Unless you want to fly the cops there to arrest them & drag them back to SA.

This is my fear aswell. If they receive a summons demanding payment for damages, they can packup and move somewhere else. If they ignore the summons, other steps can be taken such as court orders to pay for the damages.. although then jurisdiction becomes an issue.

If you not happy, give it back and ask for a refund, estate agent or not.
You might still be liable for the transfer fees, but if you can not afford the repairs, get out now, before your 30 days is up.

If I could, I would. Too bad it is not that easy, there is NO WAY how to get out of signing an Offer to purchase. The fees where all paid up before we even moved in, everyone has got their money. I have read cases stating that if knowing about the damages made you not buy the property, then there may be some standing in court.. but that is 3 years down the line, and 30-100k later. :/
 

TJ99

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The "voetstoots" clause does not apply in cases where the seller willfully lied about hidden defects in the property. So if they knew about the problems and lied, you could have a case there. Proving that would be a bit difficult though...
 

Avenue

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okay- in normal circumstances you would get hold of the public protector and file for cancellation of the sale, or for the seller to be liable for the repairs but with the people moving overseas, unless they have assets here that you can attach, you should just move on.

is it a flat roof, or pitched? If flat, fixing it is going to be a big problem as those are notoriously bad. If pitched, you may be able to seal it yourself, quite easily.
 

Uraeus

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May 26, 2010
Messages
270
The "voetstoots" clause does not apply in cases where the seller willfully lied about hidden defects in the property. So if they knew about the problems and lied, you could have a case there. Proving that would be a bit difficult though...

This is what I have heard too, but then the onus is on the purchaser to prove they knew. Surely the fact that within 1 week of us moving in, we could hear dripping and had to put buckets to catch the dripping. Also the ceilings are getting discoloured, and it can be seen if looking at the ceiling in a certain direction that they have been painted over. I dont understand how they can argue that they didnt know about it, as the dripping is loud enough to wake us at night.

If you heard dripping in the ceiling, surely you are going to want to clime into the ceiling to check it out. What man out there wouldnt?

okay- in normal circumstances you would get hold of the public protector and file for cancellation of the sale, or for the seller to be liable for the repairs but with the people moving overseas, unless they have assets here that you can attach, you should just move on.

is it a flat roof, or pitched? If flat, fixing it is going to be a big problem as those are notoriously bad. If pitched, you may be able to seal it yourself, quite easily.

It is a pitched roof, unfortunately it is not going to be an easy fix. I have received on the order of 10 quotes to fix it, and it alone is R40k average.
 

Mike Hoxbig

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Apr 25, 2010
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It happens. Make a note of everything that's wrong so that you know about what to look out for next time.

After moving into my place, I noticed that there was no geyser tray installed, so I was fscked if the geyser burst. Sorted that out immediately. There was also a tiny moisture problem on one of the walls - I couldn't see it when we viewed the place because the curtains were obstructing it, so next time I'm going to look behind the curtains in case they're trying to hide something.
 

Ryanbighead

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Jan 25, 2010
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159
It depends on when the contract was signed on weather the new CPA will apply. Also if your bought the house from a natural person then it does not apply. If the owner had the property in the name of a cc etc. then it will apply. Everything is still up in the air at this point in time as there is 0 case history to base a case on.

With all of this said, if the defect was discovered within a certain time period then the seller can be held liable, I am not sure of the exact amount of time here though.

In my opinion, take the R30k and write the rest off as school fee's.

Estate agents are commission driven sharks, I can say this because I am one!(I do however have morals and it shows in my small pay-checks) But owners will not always disclose defects to agents, we are the middleman and are abused as such more often than not.

Next time you buy, don't accept the agents offer to purchase as is, put in what you need in the special conditions clause, and check it twice with your attorneys.

Sorry to hear about your situation though :(
 

rrh

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The CPA only covers businesses, and not one-time sellers. So, unless the sellers of the house were property developers. the CPA doesn't apply.

If the sales was 'VOETSTOOTS' - and it was unless you specifically deleted the clause - you have very little chance of getting the seller to admit that they knew of the defect. They will simply argue that they repaired the cause of the original water damage, and that the current leaks are caused by situations arising after the sale of the house. It will then be up to you to prove otherwise.

So, unfortunately, this is one of those situations where the lessons learnt have been very expensive - much like anything associated with property :(

A minor suggestion: get another quote (or two) from waterproofing companies - not builders - on repairing the leaks. I recently had some water damage repairs done that cost considerably less that the price that you mentioned.
 
F

Fudzy

Guest
I was very thankful that my MIL works for an attorneys firm that went over our OTP, they said I should stipulate that a condition was a report by a professional home inspector. It saved me about R30,000.

Sorry for you though, seems like you are paying school fees.
 

MickZA

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Jan 19, 2007
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A minor suggestion: get another quote (or two) from waterproofing companies - not builders - on repairing the leaks. I recently had some water damage repairs done that cost considerably less that the price that you mentioned.

Agreed, ask for a tile lift and plastic sheeting replacement quote if you want the job done properly.
 

Uraeus

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May 26, 2010
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270
Thank you for the feedback folks, this is a pro/cons game which needs to be weighed up.

Just grates me knowing how they going to get away with it. I strongly feel "taken for a ride" on this one, although there is not much I can do about it, besides the chance of loosing a ton of money on it. :(

What stops me from selling the house knowing all these problem, as long as there is a voetstoets clause I'l be OK. Hell, I can even move overseas as the OTP is signed. Hmm.
 

Pynet

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Sep 12, 2007
Messages
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After the CPA was passed there is no voetstoets clause in the purchase agreement. They now have a disclosure document where the seller has to list every defect he is aware of.

If a defect arises and is not on the list and can prove it is something the seller was aware of, he in K*K.
 
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