Property Law – Case Studies of Interest

Private Property South Africa
Karien Hunter

When buying or selling property, it's important to know your rights and obligations in terms of the law. Below are a couple of recent case studies which are important to note should you find yourself in a similar situation:

Agreements of sale of land must be complete before parties sign in order to be valid - non-compliance with the provisions of The Alienation of Land Act

In the recent case of Fraser v Viljoen (621/2006) ZASCA the Supreme Court of Appeal found that a sale agreement for land was invalid where the description of the property was left blank at the time of signature and only inserted by the agent after the parties had signed the agreement.

The purchaser tried to enforce this agreement and contended that the agent was authorised by the seller to complete the missing details in the agreement, after the agreement had been signed.

The court rejected this notion and reiterated that an agreement must be complete and reflect all material terms of the sale agreement, before it is signed.

No Recourse for Unhappy Buyer - Court Rules in Favour of Seller on Voetstoots Clause (Odendaal v Ferraris [2008] 4 All SA 529 (SCA).)

After taking occupation of a property, the purchaser discovered a whole host of defects to the property that were not previously revealed to him. One of these defects included a sewer manhole cover that was situated inside an outbuilding.

At the time of viewing the property, the purchaser did not go into the outbuilding, as the agent had assured him that the outbuilding was in perfect condition.

The manhole was constructed without the approval of the local authority and the court found that the fact that this was constructed without the approval of the local authority, constituted a latent defect to the property.

The court found that the voetstoots clause protected the seller and that the onus was on the purchaser to prove not only that the seller knew of this defect, but that the seller had also deliberately concealed it with the intention to defraud the purchaser.

The purchaser was unable to prove this and he lost the case.


Karien Hunter is a respected property lawyer, and founder of

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