2020: the danger when dating a contract!

Up until now, it has been a universal trend when signing a contract to shorten the date to just the final two numbers in the year.

Think `99 or `05 … it was quick and it worked. But, not this year.

Shake the habit!

A contract signed on 23 September 2019 could easily have been dated as 23/09/19 without any real risk. This year in particular, you need to shake this habit and write the year out in full.

How come? In 2020, abbreviating the year of your contract to just ‘20’ leaves you vulnerable to an unscrupulous contracting party attempting to either back or forward-date their contract for their own gain and this kind of fraud would be very difficult to detect.

Rental agreements are a real concern

This is a major concern when dealing with a rental contract as a landlord could potentially back-date a contract for the period of a year from ‘14/01/20’ to ‘14/01/2019’ and then either attempt to hold a tenant liable for damages that occurred before they actually took occupation or even attempt to hold them liable for rental from before the actual rental period.

A tenant on the other hand could change the abbreviated date on an agreement to contest a case at the Rental Housing Tribunal, the lease term could be claimed to be shorter or longer than it actually is depending on which better suits the tenant’s desired outcome.

Selling? Watch out for certificate fraud 

The abbreviation of 2020 to`20 also opens the door for fraudsters to manipulate Certificates of Compliance required in the sale of a property, such as:
  • Rates and Taxes Clearance Certificate
  • Electrical Compliance Certificate of Clearance
  • Beetle/Woodborer Clearance Certificate
  • Gas Installation Certificate
  • Electric Fence Certificate
  • Pumbling Certificate if the property falls within the Jurisdiction of the City of Cape Town

Check that these have been dated in full by the service providers!

Employment contracts

Similarly, a dishonest employer could amend the start date on an employment contract back a year which would have drastic effects on statutory benefits such as annual and sick leave due to you.

Worse still, a contract of fixed-term employment that was supposed to extend until 31/12/20 could now theoretically be extended to 31/12/2099 without the ability to prove that fraud has been committed.

Be extremely careful when entering into contracts this year as a simple slip up out of habit can have serious consequences!  

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