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Aston Lawyer
Aston Lawyer, Solicitor
Category: Law
Satisfied Customers: 10773
Experience:  Solicitor LLB (Hons) 23 years of experience in Conveyancing and Property Law
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Ref sale of my mothers house: My mother recently sold her house,

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Ref sale of my mothers house: My mother recently sold her house, I had to carry out the clearance of the property. I removed all the furniture and took away 8 van loads of junk.
But some stuff was left, the new owners have asked that my mother either clears the remainder of the property or pay for skips.
My mothers solicitors have simply passed on the demand.
What do I do? Am I obliged to pay for clearance or - now that contracts are exchanged and keys handed over - can I just ignore the buyers demands?
I did not totally clear the shed or the greenhouse, both were left untidy and with a fair amount of stuff in. Also behind the she we collections of old garden furniture.
One loft was left with boxes at one end as the clearance firm said they could not get to them.
Hope you can help
Simon Richardson
Hi Simon and thanks for using Just Answer.
My name is ***** ***** am happy to assist you with your enquiry.
Legally, your Mother has breached the terms of the Contract, by not granting the Buyers "vacant possession" of the property.
Normally, in your circumstances, a letter is written by the Buyers Solicitors asking for the remaining items to be removed or that the Seller pays for the cost of a skip, which I note is what has happened. A Buyers Solicitor would normally tell their client that such a letter can be sent free of charge, but if no favourable response is received from the Seller, then any further work undertaken by the Buyers Solicitor will be charged.
50% of the time, the Seller will agree to remove the remaining items/pay for a skip,as legally it is their responsibility to have cleared the property.
However, if you decide not to pay or remove the items, this leaves the Buyer with an awkward decision- they can either take no further action (which is the usual decision) or they can issue Court proceedings. Most Buyers don't want the hassle of taking any such Court action as it is not financially viable for them to instruct a Solicitor to act and don't feel they want to go it alone at Court.
Sadly for a Buyer,and luckily for you, Court action is the only option available to them if the Seller does not co-operate.
I therefore have to leave it you to decide what you want to do, if anything. I doubt very much that the Buyer would take Court action against your Mother, but by the same token, you may feel that you should perhaps pay towards the cost of a skip.
I hope this assists you and sets out the legal position.
Kind Regards
Customer: replied 2 years ago.
I thought vacant possession referred only to people being in the building, such as tenants. furter research has shown me that it is defined by the Court of Appeal as quoted below. If it is only the green house, shed and a portion of the loft, is that "substantial" as per the final sentence below?“Vacant possession means that at the moment that ‘vacant possession’ is required to be given, the property is empty of people and chattels and that the purchaser is able to assume and enjoy immediate and exclusive possession, occupation and control of it. It must also be empty of chattels, although the obligation in this respect is likely only to be breached if any chattels left in the property substantially prevent or interfere with the enjoyment of the right of possession of a substantial part of the property”.
When I said your Mother is in breach of Contract, I normally explain to Seller clients that they under a duty to grant vacant possession, and this includes clearing the property of all items, other than those items as being shown as included in the Sale in the Fittings and Contents list. Otherwise, the Seller is in breach of Contract.
I don't know from which case you have quoted the definition of vacant possession, but I can assure you that even if the above definition is correct, your Mother is clearly in breach of Contract, I'm afraid, as the items to be cleared would not have been included in the Fittings and Contents list.
Kind Regards
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