An­gry son to chal­lenge court’s ‘voestoots’ rul­ing

Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition) - - NEWS - FA­TIMA SCHROEDER

A JOBURG man is preparing to chal­lenge a Western Cape High Court rul­ing on be­half of his sick mother, who was held li­able for fail­ing to dis­close in­for­ma­tion about house de­fects to a couple who bought the property from her.

The court found that a clause in the sale agree­ment, which stip­u­lated that she sold the house “voet­stoots” (as it stands), did not pro­tect her.

Now her son, An­dré Cil­liers, is preparing to take the mat­ter fur­ther, say­ing he and his sib­lings felt in­sulted.

“The house was a mon­u­ment to the man that my fa­ther was. It was a beau­ti­ful dwelling that my mother was proud to sell to a young couple who had just be­gun a fam­ily, so much so that she left a lot of fur­ni­ture for them, since she would not be need­ing th­ese in her smaller place in Nel­spruit. This was also thrown back into her face, say­ing that she did this out of guilt,” Cil­liers said.

Ed­ward and Lisa El­lis took trans­fer of the Knysna property in 2011, and be­gan ren­o­va­tions. When they re­moved the kitchen cup­boards, they dis­cov­ered se­ri­ous prob­lems with the struc­ture of the house.

They ap­proached the High Court, where Cil­liers’s mother, Cather­ine, sub­mit­ted that she had no in­ten­tion of de­fraud­ing the couple, and had been un­aware of the prob­lems.

Her lawyers ar­gued that she was, in any event, pro­tected by the “voet­stoots” clause. But the court dis­agreed. Cil­liers re­sponded that his par­ents bought the property in 1994, while they were still liv­ing in Bloem­fontein.

“The house had been de­signed to be a dou­ble-storey dwelling, but the builder ran out of money and only the ground floor liv­ing area had been de­vel­oped,” he said.

His fa­ther, who he de­scribed as a “wood­worker of note”, con­tin­ued work on the house when they moved there in 1996.

It took 14 years for him to trans­form the house, “the con­struc­tion of which was a shoddy job from the be­gin­ning”, so that both floors were de­vel­oped.

“Some of the door frames, for in­stance, were in­stalled in­cor­rectly, caus­ing one door to fall open all the time.

“My fa­ther boxed th­ese in and hung a new door so that this no longer hap­pened. Some of the roof beams had been in­stalled skew by the builder of the house. My fa­ther nailed a beau­ti­ful pine ceil­ing over the beams, sim­ply be­cause the skew beams wor­ried him. He en­joyed wood­work and he had the time to fix the place. Some of the wooden floors of the house were also un­even be­cause of con­struc­tion is­sues from the be­gin­ning. Th­ese were cor­rected and tiled,” Cil­liers said.

His fa­ther died in Septem­ber 2010, and his mother now has can­cer.

She was des­per­ate to sell the house so she could move to Nel­spruit for care and treat­ment.

“She did this and the house was sold way be­low mar­ket value due to the ur­gency of the sale.

“She ended up sell­ing the house via an agent to the El­lis fam­ily, whom she never met. She was in Johannesburg at the time un­der­go­ing a liver op­er­a­tion. The El­lises were al­lowed to visit the house as much and as of­ten as they wanted to, and were free to direct any ques­tions to her via the agent.

“The sale was fi­nalised when she was al­ready liv­ing in Nel­spruit. The El­lises bought a per­fectly func­tional house which had been lived in for 14 years,” Cil­liers said.

He said the “voet­stoots” clause was in­cluded in the sale agree­ment sim­ply be­cause it was a stan­dard phrase in such con­tracts be­fore the law changed.

Cil­liers said he was tak­ing the mat­ter fur­ther on be­half of his mother and the rest of the fam­ily.

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