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Property: Are Verbal Agreements Valid?

“A verbal contract isn’t worth the paper it’s written on” (Samuel Goldwyn) Verbal agreements in South Africa are generally as binding and valid as written ones. Of course not recording your agreements in writing is a bad idea – oral agreements are a recipe for doubt and dispute, and proving the exact terms agreed on will be challenging if not impossible. Moreover certain types of contract have to be in writing, and signed by all parties, to be valid at all. For

Home Builders – Your Contractor Must Register with the NHBRC

“…the Act is consumer-protection legislation designed to offer protection against incompetent builders and the construction of homes having structural defects” (extract from judgment below) In order to promote housing consumer rights, home builders (including residential property developers and builder/contractors – an “owner builder” may apply for exemption) must, in terms of the Housing Consumers Protection Measures Act (“the Act”) register with the NHBRC (National Home Builders Registration Council). They must also enrol houses they build with the Council, and pay an

Warning: Property Email Scams Surging

“Forewarned is Forearmed!” (Wise old saying) Why yet another warning about cyber-scams in the property industry? It’s because the hard fact is that the criminals are winning this war. In fact we are now reportedly the “second most targeted country in the world with regard to cyber-attacks” (Law Society of South Africa). Hence, no doubt, the Legal Practitioners Indemnity Insurance Fund report of “over 110 cybercrime related claims with a total value of R70 million” in the period July 2016 to August

Unlawful Occupiers: Eviction Is Possible, but Neither Quick nor Easy

“It is only once the court concludes that there is no defence to the claim for eviction and that it would be just and equitable to grant an eviction order that it is obliged to grant that order” (Extract from judgment below) “Buy land” said Mark Twain, “they’re not making it anymore.” With the first green shoots of a property market recovery supposedly now showing through perhaps this is indeed the time to take his advice. Just be sure, if the property

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

“The issue of whether a conveyancing attorney receives the money as the agent of the seller, or of the purchaser, or of both, or as trustee for both to await the event, is a somewhat vexed question … and each case must be considered in the light of its own facts and the particular contractual terms under which the conveyancer received payment” (Extract from judgment below) A lot of money changes hands in property sales, and for many of us buying

Airbnb Owners and Buyers – Should You Be Worried About the New Regulations?

“While travel on our platform accounts for less than 1 in 8 visitors to South Africa, those guests boosted the economy by R8.7 billion and helped create 22,000 jobs last year alone” and “Regulation is a useful and necessary tool of good policy, but policy comes first. Sadly, the current wording of the draft Bill is very vague and unclear. It indicates the creation of specific regulatory approaches without any explanation of what they are trying to encourage or solve.” (Airbnb) Firstly,

You Signed a Property Sale Agreement, Can You Still Accept a Better Offer?

You put your property on the market and an acceptable but not-perfect offer comes in. On the “a bird in the hand is worth two in the bush” principle you want to accept the offer even though it’s not ideal. Perhaps it’s not perfect because it’s subject to a suspensive condition – common ones give the buyer time to sell his/her current house or to obtain a bond. In both scenarios your sale will fall through if the buyer is unsuccessful

Security Estates: Can You Fine Speedsters?

“When the [property owners] chose to purchase property within the estate and become members of the Association, they agreed to be bound by its rules” (extract from judgment below) There are many advantages to buying in a security estate or other community scheme, including quality of life and increased potential for growth in your property’s value. As a buyer just be aware that you will almost certainly be binding yourself to a set of rules and regulations imposed by the Homeowners Association (HOA)

Estate Agents: Securing Your Trade Secrets (and Your Commission)

“In short, it [a Fidelity Fund Certificate] is a licence to practice without which you cannot practice.” (Extract from judgment below) As an estate agent you will know that without a valid Fidelity Fund Certificate (FFC) you are not entitled to any commission for the successful sales or leases you put together. All your hard work in fulfilling your mandate will come to naught. Your client need pay you nothing.  As a recent High Court case warns, you will also be unable

Property Buyers: There’s a New Deduction from Interest Earned on Your Deposit

When you buy property, the sale agreement often provides for you to pay a deposit (normally 10% of the sale price) to the conveyancer (the attorney transferring the property into your name), to be kept in trust until transfer. Don’t lose out on earning interest on your deposit money – check that the sale agreement’s deposit clause says that the deposit must be invested in an interest-bearing trust account with interest to accrue to you. Also an instruction to the conveyancer