Voetstoots – what does it mean?

Property sales agreements usually include a “voetstoots” clause. In South African law, the term voetstoots means “as is” or “with all faults”. When a property is sold voetstoots, the buyer agrees to accept the property in its present condition, including any defects or issues that may be present at the time of the sale.

This means that the seller is not responsible for any defects or problems that the buyer discovers after the sale is completed unless the seller deliberately concealed them. The buyer is expected to have inspected the property thoroughly before agreeing to purchase it and is responsible for any repairs or improvements needed after the sale.

But the voetstoots clause does not exempt the seller from his legal obligations to disclose any known defects or issues with the property. If the seller knowingly conceals defects or misrepresents the condition of the property, he cannot rely on the voetstoots clause. He may still be held liable for any damages that the buyer incurs as a result. The buyer may elect to cancel the contract or negotiate a reduction in the sale price, or even take legal action to resolve the issue.

A voetstoots clause is important for both parties. If the seller discloses all latent defects, he can avoid claims down the road. The buyer, after a thorough inspection, can make his offer based on the condition of the property, knowing what expenses may come his way in terms of repairs and renovations.