In a standard ADLS agreement for sale and purchase, there is no legal requirement for the vendor to provide the purchaser with a property that has been cleaned (and cleared) from head to toe. Notwithstanding this, we have noticed an increasing expectation by purchasers that this is the condition they will find the property in.
A situation recently arose when we acted for vendors who were selling a lifestyle property. On the day of settlement the purchasers refused to settle because of the items that remained on the property. The vendor acknowledged that the property had to be sold with vacant possession (i.e. all personal items cleared from the property prior to settlement) but were of the view that the miscellaneous items that remained on the property, which included scrap metal and wood, would be of use to the purchaser. The vendor had the property cleared and settlement subsequently took place.
The question raised from this case is whether the vendor was actually obliged to have the property cleared of those items on settlement.
In the absence of anything expressly included in the agreement for sale and purchase, the state that purchasers expect to receive on settlement comes down to the questions raised by the purchasers with the vendor and/or agent when viewing the property, and the representations made by the vendor and/or the agent. If the purchasers in the above case had already been given assurances that the miscellaneous items located in the sheds or barns would be cleared prior to settlement, then the purchaser should be able to rely on that representation. Otherwise, the purchasers should expect to take possession of the property as it is, minus the personal possessions.
That might sound like common sense, but it is surprising how often such issues can create last minute delay and stress, as well as extra cost, to the vendor and the purchaser. We sometimes see clauses in agreements prepared by the agent with a list of items that the purchaser requires the vendor to attend to prior to settlement. Such lists include things like having carpets vacuumed, lawns mowed and garden weeded, cupboards, drawers, showers and windows cleaned inside and out, oven to be cleaned, and all rubbish removed from the property if the rubbish removal day is more than 48 hours after settlement.
Our recommendation is that if there are particular items lying about the property that the purchaser expects will be removed from the property, or certain things that the purchaser requires to be done to ensure the property is taken over in a certain condition, then including a clause in the agreement covering those matters may save time, stress and money at settlement time.