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Property: Hidden house defects prove costly for seller

Selling a house with defects such as dampness in the walls – without disclosing it and covering it up with paint and filler – can have consequences, as Johannesburg homeowners discovered when the court ordered they had to pay the buyer the costs of the repairs. A Cape Times report says the Gortzen couple were ordered by the Roodepoort Magistrate’s Court to pay the new owner R244 855 – the cost to fix the damp problems. This is after the buyer turned to the lower court to either have the purchase price of the house lowered or to have the sellers pay for the repairs. The court chose the latter option. Aggrieved with this ruling, the Gortzens turned to the Gauteng High Court (Johannesburg) to appeal against the ruling. But the High Court turned down the appeal. It said the finding that there was damp in and around the property cannot be gainsaid. It was agreed between the seller and the buyer’s experts that the interior walls of the garage, the entrance hall, the windows by the water feature, the entire perimeter wall, the west side exterior wall and the columns were affected by damp. This damp qualified as a defect because it affected the use and value of the property, the court said.

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