Who is responsible for property damage after the offer is accepted?

There was a major hail storm after a seller accepted my offer to purchase their home, and the house needs a new roof. Who is responsible for it?

Until the deal closes and you take possession of the property, the seller is responsible for the property. Any damage to the property or to the items included in the sale, are the sole responsibility of the seller until your purchase funds are transferred and you take possession of the home.

When you take possession, the property – and its inclusions (appliances, etc.) – should be in the same condition as when you viewed it and submitted your offer to purchase.

Even if the property is vacant, and has been for weeks, it is still the seller’s responsibility to maintain home insurance on the property.
As the buyer, you should make sure you arrange for your home insurance to begin on your possession day, even if you aren’t moving in right away. As soon as you take possession, insuring the property is your responsibility.

If something such as a hail storm damages the property in the time between the seller accepting your offer and possession day, have your agent talk to the seller’s agent to confirm the seller is handling the damage. If the seller confirms they’re handling the repairs, you may wish to add an addendum to your accepted offer to purchase that outlines the seller’s responsibility to replace the roof prior to possession day, or you may ask the seller to agree to you holding back a small portion of the purchase funds until the roof is repaired. Make sure any agreements between you and the seller are in writing.

If there is any resistance on the part of the seller, either to fixing the damage or to putting details and agreements in writing, you need to talk to a lawyer for legal advice.

Likewise, if either party wishes to end the transaction in light of the damage done to the property, or if the seller refuses to repair the roof prior to possession, contact a lawyer for legal advice.

“Ask Charles” is a question and answer column by Charles Stevenson, Registrar of the Real Estate Council of Alberta (RECA), www.reca.ca. RECA is the independent, non-government agency responsible for the regulation of Alberta’s real estate industry. We license, govern, and set the standards of practice for all real estate, mortgage brokerage, and real estate appraisal professionals in Alberta. To submit a question, email askcharles@reca.ca

More Info: