Sale con­di­tion rules de­fined

Pilbara News - - Pilbara Property - Hay­den Groves Hay­den Groves Real Es­tate In­dus­try of Western Aus­tralia pres­i­dent.

One of the most widely mis­un­der­stood el­e­ments of real es­tate is what con­di­tion a prop­erty should be in at set­tle­ment or pos­ses­sion.

What does ‘as in­spected’ re­ally mean?

In short, a prop­erty is sold “as in­spected”. If there was dust on a ceil­ing fan when you first in­spected be­fore con­tract­ing to buy then the fan can be dusty at set­tle­ment.

The same goes for a dirty oven, a blown light globe or a squeaky laun­dry door. If it was dirty, blown or squeaky at in­spec­tion be­fore pur­chase then so it should be at set­tle­ment. Typ­i­cally, buy­ers an­tic­i­pate the prop­erty will be handed over spot­less and thank­fully most house-proud sell­ers leave their homes in an ap­pro­pri­ate con­di­tion when mov­ing out but buy­ers should note there is no obli­ga­tion on them to do so.

Un­less oth­er­wise spec­i­fied in the con­tract, the seller is un­der no obli­ga­tion to have the prop­erty pro­fes­sion­ally cleaned for set­tle­ment and it is sur­pris­ing how few buy­ers ask that such a con­di­tion be in­cluded.

The seller’s only obli­ga­tion un­der the con­tract (Clause 6.1(b) 2 of the Gen­eral Con­di­tions) is to “… re­move from the Prop­erty, be­fore pos­ses­sion, all ve­hi­cles, rub­bish and chat­tels, other than the Prop­erty Chat­tels”. Many mod­ern con­tracts to pur­chase in­clude pro­vi­sion for es­sen­tial plumb­ing, gas and elec­tri­cal com­po­nents to be work­ing at set­tle­ment.

The grey area

It is trick­ier when, for ex­am­ple, a tele­phone jack does not work at set­tle­ment.

It is not strictly elec­tri­cal but it is prob­a­bly rea­son­able for a buyer to as­sume that it was func­tion­ing at in­spec­tion.

This is partly be­cause, caveat emp­tor — buyer be­ware — has all but dis­ap­peared ac­cord­ing to some le­gal prac­ti­tion­ers. The onus is prob­a­bly on the seller to dis­close (in this case) that the tele­phone jack didn’t work. My view is buy­ers need to take rea­son­able steps to en­sure the prop­erty they have bought will be pre­sented to them in a con­di­tion they are sat­is­fied with.

This can be achieved by ei­ther con­tract­ing with the seller to guar­an­tee it or be­ing more thor­ough when in­spect­ing the prop­erty in the first in­stance.

Buy­ers ought to have a re­al­is­tic ex­pec­ta­tion of what to ex­pect at set­tle­ment when buy­ing an es­tab­lished home and ac­knowl­edge opin­ions of pre­sen­ta­tion are sub­jec­tive.

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