STORM DAMAGE ON HOMES UNDER OFFER. WHO IS RESPONSIBLE?

With storms and strong winds not uncommon in Perth during winter, have you ever wondered what would happen if you sold your house and it became damaged before it settles? This article considers how to mitigate the risk, who’s responsible and how to deal with the situation should it happen to you.

As we enter into the winter months, icy mornings, hail, thunderstorms and strong winds are not out of the ordinary for Perth.

As a seller, it is important to brace for these conditions and prepare for any damage to properties, fences, gardens and trees caused by rough weather. Depending on the severity of the damage, most homeowners can repair or tidy up themselves. However, what happens if you’re a property owner in the process of selling your home?

How to deal with the situation

If you’ve recently sold your property and it’s currently under contract when the storm damage is caused, Clause 8 of the Joint Form of General Conditions relating to ‘Risk’ comes into play.

Major damage

If the property becomes uninhabitable or any other building or improvement is rendered unusable compared to as at the contract data, the seller is required, under clause 8.3, to give notice to the buyer to that effect.

There are additional contractual elements to this, fortunately rare, occurrence and legal advice is often necessary to ensure both parties to the contract understand their rights and obligations.

Minor damage

If the damage is minor, the seller would refer to Clause 9.1(f) of the Joint Form of General Conditions whereby it’s warranted that the property at settlement will be in the same state and condition it was in immediately prior to the contract date.

Where a fence has been significantly damaged during the contract period, the owner, along with the neighbour, are required to repair or replace the fence within a reasonable time.

Let’s hope you don’t find yourself in this situation this winter, but if you are, call us and we’ll do our best to help you through this matter.

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