We bought a house and, between signing the deal and moving day, the eavestroughs were damaged in a storm. Is the seller responsible for fixing them since they still owned the house when it happened?
The winter season is fast approaching, and while the weather may be getting colder, the real estate market is still getting hotter. The last thing a buyer needs on their plate is to worry about storm-damaged eavestroughs — or any kind of damage that did not exist when they bought the home they’re about to take possession of.
However, you don’t officially own the property yet, so who is responsible for addressing the damage?
According to the terms of most agreements of purchase and sale, the seller is responsible for maintaining the condition of the property up until closing, which means any damage done to the home falls to the seller to repair.
It wasn’t damage, but when we bought our home, the roof was covered with leaves and the eavestroughs were chock full of rotting leaves. We asked our representative to make sure the roof and eaves were cleaned before the snow came. We didn’t want to take possession in the middle of winter with frozen leaf-filled eaves, which could have led to damage.
However, depending on how substantial the damage is, you have three options to consider.
- The seller could agree to arrange for the repairs themselves and pay for the damage.
- The seller could provide you with the proceeds of an insurance claim so that you can fix the damage when you take ownership of the home.
- If the damage is substantial, you, the buyer, may be able to terminate your agreement with the seller. You should consult with a real estate lawyer if you are considering this option.
If the seller refuses to make the repairs, you should have a discussion with your lawyer to see if legal action against the seller is a viable option.
In the current real estate market, homes are often swept up quickly. Buyers may be exposing themselves to added risk if they don’t fully consider the additional costs associated with purchasing a home that has some damage needing repairs.
You should also consider negotiating with the seller to have a post-repair inspection conducted on the home. If there is any damage or deterioration of the home or home appliances between the time the first home inspection was conducted and now, you’ll want to know about it.
If you are unsure of how to proceed, discuss the options with your real estate representative and talk to a real estate lawyer to get that expert advice. Don’t be afraid to seek extra help.
If you proceed with the transaction, but a considerable amount of repairs need to be done (from water damage or fire, for example), you can try to make an agreement with the seller to amend the closing date until all repairs are completed.Joseph Richer is Registrar of the Real Estate Council of Ontario (RECO). He is in charge of the administration and enforcement of all rules that govern real estate professionals in Ontario. You can find more tips at reco.on.ca, follow on Twitter @RECOhelps or on YouTube at http://www.youtube.com/RECOhelps.