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The provisions of the Property Practitioners Act (No 22 of 2019) (PPA) that were published in December last year, are effective from 1 February this year. This law repeals the entire Estate Agency Affairs Act (No 112 of 1976 (EAA Act).
The PPA brings a number of changes to the industry including more consumer protection. This includes the need to disclose defects in both sales and rentals. Although this has been in practice for some time, it is now a legal requirement. The document must be signed by all parties and annexed to the respective sale or lease agreement.
According to Tiaan Pretorius, manager for Seeff Centurion, sellers should not try to cover or conceal defects because this could land a seller in hot water as they could be sued by the purchaser. However, should a seller fail to disclose a fault that they were unaware of, they would obviously not have been able to declare it, hence it is unlikely to pose a problem for the seller.
The Seeff property group, however, strongly recommends that prospective buyers get a home inspection done to safeguard against any issues down the line.
Patent and latent effects
There are generally two types of defects, namely patent defects which are those that are visible to the naked eye, and latent defects which usually relate to structural issues and are more difficult to spot.
“The property practitioner must undertake a thorough inspection and the seller must point out all defects, regardless of whether they are patent or latent,” says Pretorius.
Patent defects are usually easily identifiable. These would include aspects such as cracks in the walls, sagging gutters, cracked or broken windows, damaged light switches, cracks around the swimming pool, deteriorated woodwork, damaged cupboards, cracking paint work, cracked tiles and damage to carpets, laminate or wooden flooring.
Latent defects include structural issues such as unsteady walls, leaking roofs, faulty geysers and swimming pool pumps, rising damp and so on. These are more difficult to spot, hence our recommendation that the buyer gets an inspection done, says Pretorius.
Call in the home inspection experts
“It’s important to choose a reputable home inspector with the relevant expertise to inspect and discover defects in the property. The cost of the inspection is for the buyer’s account, but this is money well spent,” he says.
“An inspection can ensure that there are no surprises before payments are made. Buyers should be mindful that once the contract is signed it becomes more difficult to act, and it can be more costly if legal action is required. It will also put the buyer in a position to request repairs or negotiate reparations as part of the conditions of sale.”
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