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Selling property? Watch your wording!

Selling property?  Watch your wording!When you agree on a sale, ensure that your agreement is both clear and comprehensive – or risk the pitfalls of litigation.

A case recently before the High Court (on appeal from a District Magistrates Court) involved the sale of a furnished apartment, which the buyer intended to let out as holiday accommodation.  A clause in the sale agreement provided that all furniture and crockery in the apartment was included in the sale at a cost of R80,000, but no inventory of the movables was attached to the agreement.

Subsequently the seller prepared an inventory, which the buyer signed under the impression that it listed the entire contents of the apartment at date of sale.  It didn’t – and the seller was found to have removed several items of furniture subsequent to the sale.  

The seller asked the Court to “rectify” the agreement by including reference in it to the inventory, arguing that the buyer had, in signing the inventory, agreed to limit the movables sold to those listed.  Rejecting this argument, the Court instead allowed the buyer’s request for rectification to make it clear that all movables were included in the sale.  The matter was referred back to the magistrate for further consideration of damages claims by the buyer.  

The inventory imperative

Avoid dispute, delay and cost – annex to your sale agreement a detailed inventory of any movables, and all fixtures and fittings to be included in the sale.

Most importantly – take advice before you sign anything!