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Homebuyers move in to find mess from previous owner

We occasionally get clients who having just purchased a property call us wanting to know what they should do when they realise the property they have just purchased is in a disgusting state.  Just a few weeks back we had a client complain that the flat they had just purchased was left so dirty that they had to spend the best part of 5 days getting it clean.  In addition the same clients complained that the previous owners furniture had been left in the property.  They had asked the previous owners to remove their furniture but the owner has just ignored their requests. Our clients wanted to know if there was anything they could do about this.

Prior to exchange of contracts solicitors receive a completed Property Information Form from the seller’s solicitor in which the seller confirms that all rubbish would be removed and the property would be left clean and tidy on completion.

In general contract for the sale of a residential property provides for vacant possession on completion and the property should be left completely empty of all contents apart from any which both parties have agreed should remain.

In this example,  we contacted the seller’s solicitor and requested the seller removed the items left behind immediately and also explained that if they did not collect these items then our client would arrange to dispose of the items and look to the seller to pay for the cost.  In addition as the property was left in a dirty condition then we requested that the seller pay for the cost of the cleaning.

The seller’s solicitor is obliged to pass correspondence on to their client. If this request failed in a fair result then we recommend our client consider issuing a claim in the small claims court against the seller to try and recover their costs – assuming that they were under £10k.  In order to issue a claim in the small claims court you would need to ask the seller’s solicitor to get permission from their client to divulge their contact details to you.  Sometimes if there were selling agents involved it might be possible to ask the agent to liaise with the seller on these issues in order to resolve the situation.