Did you know? If you’re selling your personal property, you need to ensure that it’s empty on the agreed date no matter what the circumstances. This is known as ‘giving vacant possession’. If vacant possession is not available, it’s not empty or if there is still a legal claim, there is a risk of losing the deposit.
What is vacant possession?
Vacant possession means that the home you are intending to buy is unoccupied on the assigned completion day. This indicates that the sellers and/or the seller’s renters, if applicable, have moved out and removed all of their physical items, leaving only those goods agreed upon with the buyer.
Moreover, making sure that the property is free from all legal claims, for example, in the following circumstances, an old lease or a broken lease without being declared to the Land Registry that might affect your ownership.
If you are purchasing or selling a home with tenants already residing in it, it is the seller’s obligation to give you the tenancy agreement and other applicable tenancy information. If you are the buyer, you can inquire about the existing tenancy, and the specifics of the tenancies will be included in the contract for sale. Rental income would become available from existing tenants at the purchase property.
If you’re an existing tenant under a lawful tenancy contract, you have a legal obligation to give your landlord vacant possession of the property on completion. Failure to do so could result in you being liable for damages and the seller can claim your deposit.
The most important elements of selling a property with vacant possession are:
1) The seller needs to give notice to the tenant/s in the property that he is planning to sell . They will need to give tenants at least 2 months’ notice in writing, and the tenant/s will then have to move out by the expected date. Therefore allowing the property to be available as a vacant possession.
2) If there are any items left in the tenanted property by the previous owner, you will need to remove them. For example any furniture, white goods, or other belongings.
3) You must ensure that all utility bills and Council Tax are up to date. If there are any outstanding payments, the new owner may be liable for these.
4) Obtain an Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) for the property. This is required by law when selling a property.
5) Once you have completed these steps, you will need to provide the new owner with a ‘vacant possession certificate’. This is a document that states that the property subject is empty and all legal claims have been removed. Without this, the new owner may not be able to take ownership of the property.
How to give a vacant possession?
On the day of completion, is it mandatory for every tenant to move out from the house. It is the responsibility of the seller to make sure that all tenants take all personal items and furniture from the house; unless the buyer and seller have come to a mutual agreement of leaving some of the items, as per stated in the contract.
It is also the seller’s obligation to hand over the keys either to the selling agent or directly to the buyer.
What happens if I fail to give vacant possession?
Breaching the terms of the contract can have serious legal consequences, especially if the vacant possession is not adhered to. It is important to take action as soon as you know there may be a problem.
If the seller fails to give vacant possession on completion, the buyer may be able to claim damages on the buying subject and take legal action. This could include the cost of them having to find alternative accommodation, as well as any other losses they incur as a result of not being able to move into the property.
You should make sure that you are able to give vacant possession on the completion date; it is a key part of the contract. If you are unable to do so, you should let the buyer know as soon as possible and try to come to an agreement about what to do next.
What can I do if I fail to give vacant possession?
If you fail to provide vacant possession on completion, you should speak to your mortgage lender and your conveyancer as soon as possible. They may be able to offer some advice on how to proceed. Your estate agent should also be aware of the situation and may be able to help you find alternative accommodation, if necessary.
If you are in this situation, it is important to speak to a conveyancing solicitor who can advise you on your complete rights and options.
Selling a property is never easy, therefore, to consider it vacant possession, it should provide the new owner an undisturbed enjoyment of the property legally and physically. In other terms, the seller has the obligation to make sure the tenants leave before the completion of the expected date, taking all the items and furniture from the house, successfully allowing the vacant possession to proceed without glitches.
If you are selling with vacant possession you must make sure that there are no legal claims related to the house sale.
If the seller fails to give the house on the completion date this will result in legal implications.