Get Your Stuff Out of My Garage!
You finally got a contract on the sale of your home. You are elated because you will close in thirty days and shortly move into your new home.
As part of the contract, you agree to allow the buyer to store “things” at your house before the close. This was not part of the contract, the buyer asked you for a simple favor and you gladly obliged under sheer excitement.
Sadly you don’t close. You call the buyer to come and get their things; no answer. You leave voicemails, text messages, you email the buyer’s broker… nothing. What do you do?
You may first think, if the buyer left it here, it must be mine.. This would likely be an incorrect statement. Not only do the buyer’s “things” still still belong to the buyer, you may owe a legal duty to the buyer to safeguard those items.
Speaking of safeguarding, if the buyer’s property happens to be damaged or stolen while in your possession you may be responsible for the loss. In addition, you may not be able to insure against these losses since the damage was done to someone else’s property and not yours.
In other words, this simple favor may leave you holding the bag.
But Can’t I be Nice and Let the Buyer Store Their Stuff?
While the FR/Bar contract contemplates a pre-closing occupancy agreement by the buyer, it does not necessarily address a situation where the buyer wishes to store their items on the property prior to the closing. The buyer should retain the services of a qualified attorney to prepare an addendum to the agreement to precisely cover this situation and to protect the buyer. The buyer should consider the following issues:
- The seller should disclaim any and all liability for any damage caused to the buyer’s possessions;
- The seller should make certain the buyer will not store any illegal or hazardous items on the property;
- The seller should obligate the buyer to insure the items stored on the seller’s property; and
- The seller should articulate the consequences should the buyer fail to remove the property in the event the buyer fails to close.
An addendum prepared by a qualified attorney will protect the seller and the buyer and allow the buyer to peacefully store their items on the seller’s property with minimal worry throughout the closing process.
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