September 2020 | Property: Don’t Pay Double Commission!
by Bruno Simao Attorneys on 2020-09-01 at 00:00
Property sellers face enough challenges in these tough times without finding themselves liable to pay two full sets of commission to different estate agencies. As a recent High Court case shows, when multiple agencies market your property and more than one agency engages with the eventual buyer on one level or another, confusion and dispute can all too easily arise over which agency was the “effective cause” of the sale. And our courts may award commission to both agencies &ldquo...
August 2020 | Property: Green Shoots, Agent’s Commission and Fidelity Fund Certificates
by Bruno Simao Attorneys on 2020-08-01 at 00:00
If you are thinking of buying property, now might well be the perfect time with the pandemic having pushed down both prices and interest rates. The other side of the coin of course is that both sellers and estate agents will be looking with hope at the first green shoots of a market recovery, so it’s a good time to remember that an agent’s entitlement to commission is dependent on holding a valid and current fidelity fund certificate. What happens though if an agen...
July 2020 | Electronic Signatures in Property and Other Transactions
by Bruno Simao Attorneys on 2020-07-01 at 00:00
Even when the COVID-19 pandemic finally starts easing off and social distancing is no longer the norm in our business and private lives, we will continue to benefit hugely from being able to enter into contracts and to complete important documents remotely. It’s important for us all to understand how our laws enable that, to know when electronic documents are accepted as being “in writing” and when “electronic signatures” are allowed and in what form (in b...
June 2020 | Lockdown! Nuisance Neighbours and How to Handle Them
by Bruno Simao Attorneys on 2020-06-01 at 00:00
Nuisance neighbours have been with us since the dawn of civilization, and nothing has changed in the modern world. All too often even minor disputes turn into bitter and expensive “neighbours-at-war” litigation. With so many of us now confined to our homes in a time of heightened tension and stress, even the smallest irritations from next door may well be escalating out of control. Let’s look at what you can do about it if that happens to you. What are your legal rights?...
May 2020 | Leases, Contracts and COVID-19: What is Force Majeure?
by Bruno Simao Attorneys on 2020-05-01 at 00:00
With many businesses locked into leases but struggling to pay rental as a result of the pandemic and its economic effects, landlords and tenants across the spectrum are wondering what their legal position is with “force majeure” being widely touted as a mechanism for tenants to escape their leases. If it is, a lot of landlords are going to be left high and dry; if it isn’t, many cash-strapped tenants will be staring financial ruin in the face. We discuss what f...
April 2020 | COVID-19: Small Businesses, Employment Laws, and Survival Support
by Bruno Simao Attorneys on 2020-04-01 at 00:00
While the COVID-19 outbreak continues, many businesses will have to be creative in finding ways to sustain profitability, particularly now that we are in National Lockdown. And as employers they will of course be facing some novel challenges. Complying with all our employment laws will remain as important as ever, and proper planning on how to achieve that whilst simultaneously protecting your business’s viability will be key to surviving (and hopefully thriving!) in these exceptional ...
March 2020 | Running a Business in a Residential Area – Check Your Zoning First!
by Bruno Simao Attorneys on 2020-03-01 at 00:00
If you would like to run a business from home or to buy a residential property specifically to convert it into business premises – or indeed on the other side of the coin if you want to object to a new business opening up in your leafy suburb – you should be aware of a recent High Court decision in which a small 8 am – 4.30 pm office was ordered to stop operating in a residential area. The Court addressed questions such as “Who can apply for an interdict?”...
February 2020 | Does an Expired Lease Automatically Continue Month-to-Month? At What Rental?
by Bruno Simao Attorneys on 2020-02-01 at 00:00
What happens if your fixed-term lease expires without an extension agreement? Is there any lease in place at all? If so what terms and conditions apply? What rental is payable? We discuss the answers to those questions with reference to the Rental Housing Act and to a recent High Court judgment in which a landlord, in claiming damages from an ex-tenant, relied on a verbal agreement to increase rental after expiry of a written lease. We end off with some thoughts on what your lease s...
January 2020 | Before You Start a New Small Business in 2020 …
by Bruno Simao Attorneys on 2020-01-01 at 00:00
Whatever 2020 may bring us in the way of opportunities and challenges, starting a new business will always require careful planning. So if you have any thought of embarking on the exciting venture of becoming an entrepreneur for your own account, make sure to map out a comprehensive plan upfront. We share 9 tips on how to get that planning process underway, with hyperlinks to an online “Entrepreneurial potential self-assessment” quiz, to information sources on crowdfunding, an...
December 2019 | Property Sales and Trusts: Demand Proof of Trustee Authority
by Bruno Simao Attorneys on 2019-12-01 at 00:00
Selling property to a trust comes with a particular risk, and it’s one that - although easily avoidable - still seems to catch sellers unawares on a regular basis. Not checking that the trustee/s signing the offer to purchase/deed of sale are fully authorised to do so could leave you with no sale at all. We illustrate the downsides of not checking for trustee authority by discussing a recent Supreme Court of Appeal judgment in which a seller’s R3m claim came to naught, because on...
November 2019 | "Seller’s Remorse" and "Subject to Sale of the Buyer’s Property" – Can They Sink the Sale?
by Bruno Simao Attorneys on 2019-11-01 at 00:00
Holiday Season can be an ideal time to buy and sell residential property, and if you are in the market for a house – or about to put yours up for sale – be mindful of the fact that both “seller’s remorse” and sales with suspensive conditions (like “subject to sale of the buyer’s property”) are much more likely now than they have been for some time. So both buyers and sellers need to understand whether it is easy or difficult for a seller to esc...
October 2019 | Landlord vs Tenant: When Can You Cut Electricity or Change the Locks?
by Bruno Simao Attorneys on 2019-10-01 at 00:00
Landlord vs tenant disputes can quickly escalate into protracted and expensive litigation, and as a landlord you may be tempted to take the law into your own hands by changing locks, cutting electricity etc. We analyse our law in that regard, explain what a “spoliation order” is and what a tenant must prove to obtain one, and discuss a recent High Court case in which an internet café owner in a shopping centre disputed her landlord’s method of billing for electricity...
September 2019 | Your Will: What You Can and Can’t Do
by Bruno Simao Attorneys on 2019-09-01 at 00:00
A properly drawn and executed will (your “Last Will and Testament”) is the only way for you to ensure that your loved ones are properly looked after once you are gone. Perhaps most importantly, only by making your own will can you specify who is to inherit what from you. But is your “Freedom of Testation” limited in any way? Can you disinherit your spouse, or your children? Who chooses who will benefit from your pension and retirement funds? These...
August 2019 | Beware of Property Cyber Scammers
by Bruno Simao Attorneys on 2019-08-01 at 00:00
Forewarned is forearmed! Here’s another warning about cyber-scams in the property industry because the more they increase, and the cleverer they become, the more vital it becomes for you to be aware of them and to protect yourself from them. Remember that you become a prime target when you buy or sell property – the rich pickings on offer when property is involved make sure of that. So we’ll have a look at how these cyber-scams work, at how you can protect yourself...
July 2019 | Property Transfers and Trust Account Theft: A R720,000 Warning
by Bruno Simao Attorneys on 2019-07-01 at 00:00
Buying a property, whether to live in, work in or just as an investment, invariably involves a substantial amount of money changing hands. Whether you are the seller or the buyer, the last thing you want is for the money to be stolen by a dishonest transferring attorney. If it happens, who carries the loss? Must transfer still be passed to the buyer? Who must lodge a claim with the Legal Practitioners Fidelity Fund and hope that it pays out without delay? A recent High Court case involvin...
June 2019 | You Signed a Property Sale Agreement, Can You Still Accept a Better Offer?
by Bruno Simao Attorneys on 2019-06-01 at 00:00
Selling property, particularly your own home, is one of the more stressful events in life. Will you get the right buyer? The best price? What if it all goes wrong? Then an offer comes in that is acceptable, but not perfect. If for example there is a bond clause and the buyer’s bond application fails a month down the line you’ve lost all that valuable marketing time. You’ll never know whether you just missed the “perfect offer” while your buyer filled out bank fo...
May 2019 | Security Estates: Can You Fine Speedsters?
by Bruno Simao Attorneys on 2019-05-01 at 00:00
Buying property in security estates and other community schemes comes with a range of benefits, but it’s important to be aware of all the rules and regulations you are agreeing to - our courts will almost always hold you to them! For example, Home Owners Associations and Bodies Corporate will welcome a recent Supreme Court of Appeal decision upholding the rights of a golf estate to impose a 40km/h speed limit (and penalties for breaching it) on all homeowners, tenants and guests using ...
April 2019 | Your Dog, Cat or Cow (Even Your Bees) Could Cost You Millions
by Bruno Simao Attorneys on 2019-04-01 at 00:00
We all know that causing someone else loss either negligently or intentionally lays us open to being sued for damages. What is less well known – and in this case ignorance is extremely dangerous – is that animal owners can be held liable for loss or damage caused by their animals on a “no fault” or “strict liability basis”. You can be sued for millions when you are in no way at fault. On what basis can you be held liable? Are there any defences you can ...
March 2019 | Property Buyers: Beware Unlawful Occupiers!
by Bruno Simao Attorneys on 2019-03-01 at 00:00
If you plan to buy a house before the property market starts to recover from its present doldrums, be aware of the risks you face if anyone is currently in the property. A recent High Court decision illustrates the danger of your being unable to evict unwelcome occupiers who point-blank refuse to leave. We’ll analyse that decision, and the lessons to be learned from it, after summarising the two things that PIE (the Prevention of Illegal Eviction From and Unlawful Occupation of Land Ac...
February 2019 | Property Owners, Buyers and Agents: Check for the Title Deeds Before 25 February!
by Bruno Simao Attorneys on 2019-02-01 at 00:00
UPDATE: Relax, the 25 February deadline has fallen away! Since publication of this article on 1 February, the Chief Registrar of Deeds has advised that “… the Deeds Registries Regulations Board at a meeting on 19 February 2019, resolved to suspend the implementation of the amendments to regulation 68, as referred to above, until further notice.” The amendments as they affect you will now be re-drafted, and we wi...