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Help - my mum (seller) has damaged house between exchange and completion who is liable

(60 Posts)
Loujalou Thu 09-Sep-10 15:41:26

Sorry for the long title but basically my mum left the tap on in her bathroom over night and it dripped all the way into the kitchen below.

This was yesterday. She was due to complete tomorrow and this happened yesterday.

She is being made to pay the cost of fixing it but it was my understanding that you need buildings insurance at the point of exchange (buyer) and the buyer is responsible. The buyers solicitor is threatening to cancel the completion if my mum doesn't pay £600.


ditavonteesed Thu 09-Sep-10 15:45:09

I know nothing about legally but morally surely your mum is responsible.

Lauriefairycake Thu 09-Sep-10 15:48:32

Yes, she should pay. I had a leak and had it fixed between exchange and completion.

If you think about it - if there was an acrimonious sale then the seller could deliberately damage it and say 'it's not my problem'

Your mums insurance is also still in place surely - so she should claim on her insurance to pay and she will only have to pay the excess.

1234ThumbWar Thu 09-Sep-10 15:49:10

what ditavonteesed said and I'd agree with the buyers solicitor.

bruxeur Thu 09-Sep-10 15:51:52

Christ almighty. Who is liable? The person who left the tap on - or the person who doesn't even have the keys to the place yet?


Loujalou Thu 09-Sep-10 15:52:17

On the cab website it says the seller is legally responsible. Morally my mum is responsible.

Loujalou Thu 09-Sep-10 15:53:44

It doesn't make sense but I have read that it is actually the seller. The law doesn't always follow common sense.

BreevandercampLGJ Thu 09-Sep-10 15:53:55

Your mother is responsble, end of story.

cece Thu 09-Sep-10 15:55:37

You definitely need to insure from date of exchange but not sure technically who is liable for the damage.

Surely the solitors handling the sale can tell her?

LIZS Thu 09-Sep-10 15:57:49

Seller ie. your mum, or rather her insurer. £600 sounds a lot though.

JudgeJudithSheindlin Thu 09-Sep-10 15:57:58

Your mother is the seller. She is responsible. Can she not claim on buildings insurance? Many have accidental damage as standard these days

ANTagony Thu 09-Sep-10 16:01:27

Something similar happened to me when buying a house. The sellers paid the excess and claimed on their insurance policy. Their solicitor arranged a transfer of benefit for the work to be done into my name. Therefore the work was done to my specification at my convenience but at no cost to me not delaying the purchase. Nor did it affect my no claims on household insurance.

It did take a bit of emailing, faxing and phoning to get the paper work in place quickly though.

Loujalou Thu 09-Sep-10 16:05:11

Click here CAB advice Its near the bottom of the page. My mum was quite happy to claim against her insurance but they claimed that would be too slow and didn't want that - she was willing to pay the excess of £350. Now they want her to pay £600 so they get it done.

ANTagony Thu 09-Sep-10 16:07:07

If they are getting a morgage it can cause complications to vary the sales price hence an insurance claim. This was my situation.

Loujalou Thu 09-Sep-10 16:09:36

As I say my mum was more than happy to pay the insurance excess to get it fixed its just now they want her to pay the price of the remedial works which is more.

ConnorTraceptive Thu 09-Sep-10 16:09:45

Oh well in that case I'm guessing she's within her rights to claim through her insurance. Obviously in any house buying situation the buyer can make demands but you don't have to comply I'm guessing they won't pull out before completion

Lulumaam Thu 09-Sep-10 16:09:54

why would she not be liable? i don't understand why you think the law is not following common sense

she still owns the house, although exchanging contracts binds her to sell the house, she owns it still. she lives there, left the tap on, caused damage

why woudl the buyers who don't yet own it, have to pay?

legally she is the owner therefore liable, no?

sorrento56 Thu 09-Sep-10 16:12:45

Morally - your mother.
If it is the seller as per your post - your mother.
Legally - surely your mother.

Perhaps your mother needs to think if it is worth losing a sale if she insists on going through the insurance and therefore taking longer.

Loujalou Thu 09-Sep-10 16:13:22

Once you exchange contracts according to an article from the Independant:

Mark Harris, managing director at mortgage broker Savills Private Finance, warns that some vendors cancel their buildings cover once they have exchanged contracts. "Many properties end up being dual insured, but this is not always the case," he says. "The buyer is contractually obliged to buy the property once contracts are exchanged even if the property burns down before they complete."

goingbacktowork Thu 09-Sep-10 16:16:19

The buyer must always insure the building from the point of exchange

ConnorTraceptive Thu 09-Sep-10 16:16:37

Mind you paying it might be the fairer thing to do. I'd be pretty pissed off moving into a house that suddenly had water damage that needed fixing.

Loujalou Thu 09-Sep-10 16:18:49

I agree she should pay and she is happy to do so. She just wanted me to check the legal position.

lal123 Thu 09-Sep-10 16:19:35

I don't understand why you would think it would be the buyer who would be liable? Until completion the house is your mum's responsibility? We had this when we were selling a flat years ago - had to take £500 off selling price

nameymcnamechange Thu 09-Sep-10 16:24:06

Doesn't seem fair that the solicitor can insist your mum pays the full cost of repair (£600) without claiming on her insurance (£350). I can see what you're saying - not everyone has read the whole thread.

goingbacktowork Thu 09-Sep-10 16:25:32

I think legally it is a moot point as there should be double insurance in place.

In any event I don't think your mum should be forced to pay with her own money when she is insured and happy to put it through on her insurance. Chances are buyer will take the money and put it through on their own insurance anyway!

Can your mum's solicitor advise?

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