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Compliance and Caveat Emptor

Caveat Emptor means “Let the buyer beware” and even though there are legal protections for buyers in South Africa, such as the Consumer Protection Act, you will still be a much happier property owner if you take certain precautions before buying a property. Once the sale has gone through you might have to pay for repairs out of your own pocket, or you might end up in a long and difficult battle with the previous owner to make good on the condition of the property.

Here is a list of items to carefully inspect before making an offer to purchase.

  • Are the house electrics in good condition?
  • Is the electrical fence in good condition? (Only: If there is one)
  • Are there any damaging insects?
  • Is the gas installation in good condition? (Only: If there is gas)
  • Is the plumbing in good condition?

The seller is required to provide a certificate of compliance for the electrical installation, the electrical fence, the gas installation, and a beetle certificate. In Cape Town, the seller is also required to provide a certificate of compliance for the plumbing installation.

Basically, this means that they are not allowed to sell you a home that is about to become dangerous, burn down, fall down explode, or cause a problem.

If you purchase a home and any of these things become an immediate problem, you have the right to force the previous owner to make good according to the sales contract, but it will take time and can be a difficult fight, so it is better to buy a property that is already in good condition so that everything goes well from day 1.

Here is another list of things that you should check in order to make buying a new property a good experience.

1) Drainage.

This includes gutters, the roof and so forth – you want to be sure that in heavy rain, all the water will flow away from your structure. You also need to be sure that water from the surrounding area (including other properties) will not cause problems – if it does flow over your land, there is a drainage plan (ditch, gutter, etc) in place to receive it.

2) Roof, doors and windows.

The roof is important for drainage but also for protection. Inspect the roof carefully for leaks, and to see if any pieces could fly off during a storm. If there are signs of water leakage around doors and windows, this will have to be fixed as water can be very destructive over time and the problem will only get worse.

3) Bad or missing insulation and ventilation.

Electricity to heat or cool a home can be expensive, so a well insulated home in winter and a well ventilated home in summer can provide long term cost savings. Poor insulation can also be a health risk, especially old insulation that gives off tiny fibers.

4) Maintenance and structural damage.

Any poor quality repairs could come undone, requiring more money to fix old problems. In the worst case, the structure of the building could be at risk (walls, foundation, support beams) and these are very expensive to fix.

5) All wooden installations.

If there are water problems, wood can rot. Wood is also targeted by insects. Where wood forms an important part of the home, such as door and window frames, walls, support beams or the roof, inspect the wood very carefully before agreeing to purchase.

6) Other hazards

Especially in older homes, there may be hazardous materials such as asbestos or lead paint present. These types of homes do not make for good long term residences without major fixes.

It is much easier and safer to work with experienced estate agents who know where to look for problems so that you don’t end up having to deal with them down the line. That is why ZAkasi is the #No.1 township property portal – we will connect you to the people you need in order to quickly find the right property for you, no problems.

Speak to ZAkasi today!



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