The meaning of the word VOETSTOOTS is “as it stands”.
The VOETSTOOTS CLAUSE firstly places an obligation on the estate agent to explain the meaning to the parties as well as the difference between a patent and a latent defect.
A patent defect is something you can or should see when you walk through a property ie a broken window, sagging ceiling, etc. The seller is covered against patent defects in terms of the VOETSTOOTS CLAUSE.
A latent defect is one that can only be identified by an expert and would not be apparent to a reasonable person when inspecting the property. Examples of latent defects can include a leaking roof, rising damp, faulty pool pump, rusted internal pipes, etc.
The responsibility on the shoulders of the estate agent goes further in that the agent must inform the seller to disclose all known defects.
That being said there is a duty on the purchaser to conduct a reasonable inspection of the property noting all defects prior to signing the offer to purchase. The purchaser is also entitled to move furniture, check that doors and windows open, open taps to check for hot water, test the flushing of toilets, open cupboards and smell for dampness, get up into the roof and see that the geyser isn’t leaking, etc.
Once the offer to purchase has been accepted by the seller it is too late for the purchaser to add any further patent defects to be fixed by the seller.
Both parties will also sign a disclosure form disclosing all known defects. This is done in terms of the Property Practitioners Act.
For further information gladly contact BLC Attorneys.