Property Subsidence: New Law, Strict Liability and Ubuntu

Property Subsidence: New Law, Strict Liability and Ubuntu

It’s every homeowner’s nightmare – your property starts subsiding and as the tell-tale cracks in the living room widen alarmingly, it begins to dawn on you that your whole house is at risk of collapse. The cause must, you decide, be your neighbour’s excavations for a new house/garage/swimming pool. You approach said neighbour for a friendly chat and a request to do something about it urgently. “Sorry” replies your neighbour, “not my fault, I am building exactly according to approved plans so it’s your problem.” So where do you stand legally? A recent Supreme Court of Appeal (SCA) decision of…
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Property Sales and Trusts: Demand Proof of Trustee Authority

Property Sales and Trusts: Demand Proof of Trustee Authority

Selling property to a trust comes with a particular risk, and it’s one that - although easily avoidable - still seems to catch sellers unawares on a regular basis. Not checking that the trustee/s signing the offer to purchase/deed of sale are fully authorised to do so could leave you with no sale at all! Let's start from the beginning - you are overjoyed at receiving a good offer for your property – not easily achieved in these hard times and of course you certainly don’t want to do anything to jeopardise the sale. But perhaps do that little bit…
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“Seller’s Remorse” and “Subject to Sale of the Buyer’s Property” – Can They Sink the Sale?

“Seller’s Remorse” and “Subject to Sale of the Buyer’s Property” – Can They Sink the Sale?

The upcoming festive season, with its mass migrations of happy holiday-makers to their dream destinations, has always been a busy time for both sellers and buyers. In these hard times however, an increasing number of sellers are feeling pressured to accept offers well under their expectations, so cases of “seller’s remorse” are much more likely now than they have been for many years. The question is, just how easy or difficult is it for a seller to escape a sale agreement signed in haste? Equally common no doubt are sales “subject to the sale of the buyer’s property” - for…
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Property Transfers and Trust Account Theft: A R720,000 Warning

Property Transfers and Trust Account Theft: A R720,000 Warning

A lot of money changes hands in property sales, and for many of us buying or selling a house is the largest single financial transaction of our lives. A recent High Court judgment in the matter of Agu v Krige and Others (20763/2017) [2019] ZAWCHC 46 involving a theft of R720,000 by a dishonest conveyancer (transferring attorney) provides a timely warning to both buyers and sellers to proceed with extreme caution. And as always, the core message to both is this: Sign nothing without your lawyer’s advice! The conveyancer who stole from her trust account A seller sold a sectional…
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Neighbours Building? Know Your Rights Re Plan Approval

Neighbours Building? Know Your Rights Re Plan Approval

Disputes with neighbours take many forms, and they can quickly escalate into costly and expensive litigation. So nipping them in the bud will always be first prize, and when it comes to fights over construction activity – whether it be a whole new building or additions/alterations – a good place to start is with municipal approval of building plans. Without such approval, construction cannot as a general rule proceed. Imagine that your neighbours apply to the municipality for approval of building plans. You object strongly – if allowed, you say, the new building/addition/alteration will seriously impact on your property’s appeal…
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Security Estates:  Are Your Rules Enforceable?

Security Estates: Are Your Rules Enforceable?

“It is well established that contractual provisions are against public policy ‘… if there is a probability that unconscionable, immoral or illegal conduct will result from the implementation of the provisions according to the tenor’” (extract from judgment below) When you choose to buy into a security estate or other community scheme, you will invariably become a member of a Home Owners Association (HOA), a Body Corporate or the like, and you will be bound to comply with all its constitution, rules and/or regulations. It is essential to check that you are happy with them all before you buy because…
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Boundary Wars: What To Do With An Encroaching Neighbour

“Good fences make good neighbours” (wise old proverb) You find out that the fence/wall/house your neighbour is building, or has built, is actually on your land – what can you do about it? No problem of course if you are happy to sell the land in question to your neighbour at an agreed price, or if your neighbour voluntarily removes the encroachment.  But if instead you come to blows and end up in court, what will the outcome be?  Regrettably, as a recent Supreme Court of Appeal (SCA) case shows, there is no easy answer to that question, hence the…
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