Voetstoots – What you should know
The word “Voetstoots” is Dutch in origin and means “sold as is” or “sold as it stands”. This legal term is for the protection of the Seller against liability for patent or latent defects.
A patent defect is one which is obvious and easily seen with reasonable inspection, like a broken window or crack in the wall. A latent defect is one which is hidden and not easily seen, like a leaking roof or hidden damp.
Does this mean that the Seller is never liable for defects with the “voetstoots” clause? Not at all, the Seller does have certain responsibilities. There is a duty to disclose any defects which are latent upon the Seller. If the Seller knew about the latent defect and didn’t disclose it or tries to hide the defect in the property, the Seller will not enjoy protection from this clause. The Seller will also not be protected if half-truths are told.
There is a duty on the Purchaser to inspect the property and to be aware of the condition thereof. If there are any defects which the Purchaser wants to be repaired, it has to be included in the deed of sale to ensure that the Seller repairs it before transfer of the property. The acceptance of the deed of sale with these provisions will ensure that the Purchaser has rights of recourse relating thereto in spite of the “voetstoots” clause.