Pretoria - A Limpopo man who knowingly sold a house with a leaking roof to a Mpumalanga couple has been ordered by the Supreme Court of Appeal to pay over R235 000 in damages and loss of earnings suffered.
The couple had purchased the property to run a business.
In July 2011, Christiaan Frederik Zietsman bought his wife Ester Petronella Zietsman a guesthouse in Tzaneen, Limpopo, from Jan Pieter le Roux.
Zietsman bought the property for R1.3 million.
Barely three months after they took occupation of the property, it rained heavily, and there was extensive leaking from the entire roof.
The guesthouse was flooded, leaving the furniture and linen sodden.
The couple sought additional funding of R241 281.76 to repair the roof.
While the house was under repair, the new owners could not conduct any business, and as a result, they lost the income that would have been generated during that period.
The couple approached the Tzaneen Regional Court and sued le Roux for damages of R241 281.76 based on non-disclosure and for R102 725.04 for loss of income.
In their application, the couple said that Le Roux was aware of the defects in the roof. They said he had a duty to disclose the defects to them but failed to do so.
The couple also added that Le Roux had represented to them that the leaking of the roof "had been repaired and attended to and would accordingly no longer occur".
In his response, Le Roux said that the roof leak was disclosed to the couple.
According to him, roof repairs were not necessary.
At the conclusion of the trial, the regional court ruled in favour of the couple.
It was declared that the le Roux was liable to pay for the damages in the amount of R167 480.23 for the repairs of the property and an amount of R68 038.00 in respect of the loss of income.
Disenchanted, Le Roux appealed to the Limpopo High Court, and his application was dismissed. Dissatisfied with the outcome, he approached the SCA, which has also dismissed his appeal.
During the hearing, an expert witness testified that when inspecting the roof, he discovered the cause of the leak was underlying structural defects.
His investigations on site revealed two major problems, inferior design and inferior workmanship.
However, Le Roux denied that the leaking roof had been a problem for a long time, or at least during his occupation.
According to him, only room seven leaked.
He maintained that his handyman fixed the roof.
After listening to all the evidence, SCA Judge Baratang Connie Mocumie said it was disingenuous for Le Roux, who had lived in the property for five years, to say he was not aware of the defects.
“On the established evidence, the appellant (Le Roux) fraudulently misrepresented the true condition of the roof and failed to disclose this to the respondents (couple), as that would have clearly played a crucial role in the respondents’ decision of whether to acquire the property or not,” the judge said.
Judge Mocumie added that the only reasonable inference to be drawn, which was affirmed by both the high court and the regional court, is that the non-disclosure and misrepresentation were deliberate, and this was made to induce the sale of the guesthouse.
Le Roux’s appeal was dismissed with costs.