After purchasing a plot in 2015, a reader recently discovered that the developer had sold the same plot to a second purchaser and she would like to know her rights in this situation.
Further complicating the matter is that the other purchaser has built a house on the plot.
See the reader’s question here.
While the terms of her sale are not available, the reader should consider getting legal advice before taking any steps against the developer.
This is advisable to ensure that, while our reader thought that she may have fully complied with her obligations, it may not be the case.
This could have resulted in her having failed to fulfil, for example, a suspensive condition.
It is possible the reader moved from the address she provided in the contract as her domicilium citandi et executandi address to another and failed to advise the seller of such a move.
This could have resulted in correspondence or registered post being delivered to an address with which she no longer had any connection.
Typically, contracts make provision for a party to change a domicilium address by way of notice to the other party, but the onus lies on the party who makes the change to ensure the information is received.
The reader does not indicate what steps she’s taken subsequent to discovering the situation in respect of the land she thought belonged to her.
Presumably she has spoken to the developer and, if so, his response could provide the reason for the ostensible cancellation or hint at some impropriety, if any.
If the land was formally transferred to the reader, she would have knowledge of the subsequent transfer.
In that instance, she would have been involved in the process as she would be the party selling or transferring the land to the new purchaser.
Assuming that there was no issue in respect of the contract, the developer may have set out to conduct a scam in respect of the proposed development and may have had no rights to sell the land in the first instance.
A little amateur sleuthing may shed some light on the true position.
If the reader has good reason to believe that something untoward or criminal took place, she could consider approaching the local police to lay a charge of fraud or theft.
The elements of fraud include an unlawful misrepresentation, with the intent to defraud the other person, causing actual or potential prejudice.
The developer may have misrepresented his authority to sell the land and put forward a structure that appeared legitimate enough for the reader not to question its legality.
In good faith, she may have complied with her payment obligations, assuming that everything was in order.
It is quite possible that, on this basis, the second ‘sale’ was also unlawful, but that the purchaser went a step further by building on the land. He may well be in for a nasty surprise.
There are several considerations valid to this query and the reader should consider professional advice regarding the avenues available to her.
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