Don’t let your house move become a house of horrors
In an ideal world when you buy a home, you expect to be able to move straight into a clean and empty property with everything as you hoped it would be, but what happens if this isn’t the case?
Here is our guide to avoiding some of the issues which can turn a house move into a house of horrors.
The house still has furniture, belongings and rubbish left in it, what should I do?
During the conveyancing process the seller will have provided a fittings and contents form which details what is included in the sale and if anything else has been agreed as part of the sale and will be left behind. This forms part of the contract and if items have been left that were not listed, then you should inform your solicitor and they will ask the seller to remove them at their own cost.
Sometimes people genuinely forget items stored in lofts, garages, and outbuildings, but other times it is intentional. Legally, any items left by the seller still belong to them. Confirm to them in writing what has been left, where the items will be stored safely for a period of time and if they are not removed what will happen to them.
You may be able to claim for the cost of disposing of their property if they don’t collect it. This could include hotel costs if the property was uninhabitable when you arrived, to travel costs to dispose of items, storage or skip hire costs. A specialist litigation solicitor can advise you on this, but it is important to document it and keep as much evidence as possible both of the property state, possessions, and receipts for any expenditure.
If you are concerned that the seller will leave items behind or leave it in a dirty condition then ask your conveyancing solicitor to organise a final inspection of the property for you before completion. If the property isn’t clean or empty then completion will be delayed until items are removed. If the seller doesn’t comply with this then they will face the costs of failing to complete.
You can ask your conveyancing solicitor to specify in the contract that the property should be cleaned to a specific standard. It might be better however for you to arrange for a professional cleaner to clean the property before you move in to ensure your expectations are met.
The seller information wasn’t correct, what should I do?
Sometimes a seller will unintentionally or deliberately mislead a buyer with the answers they have provided on a seller’s property information form or during discussions about the property. This could include disputes with neighbours, issues around flooding, boundaries in the wrong position or planning applications nearby which could affect the property.
If you have specific concerns about any of these issues then you could ask your conveyancing solicitor to ask for more details, to check the boundaries with the land registry or you could arrange a full building survey to check on the specific condition of the property. Ask your solicitor to ensure the seller provides information which is accurate up to the date of the exchange of contracts. In this way, if anything were to change, the seller would be obliged to update you.
Remember the basic position is caveat emptor or buyer beware, so ask as many questions as you can think of as the seller is obliged to answer them or explain why they will not.
In some cases, the buyer could have a claim for misrepresentation if despite all of these investigations the seller still deliberately misled them.
Remember most house moves do go well and using an experienced conveyancing solicitor will help to guide you through the process to ensure a happy outcome.
Natalie Skinner can be contacted at email@example.com