Can we be compensated for costs incurred because our house move has been delayed?
Unlike some jurisdictions, our system for agreeing and adhering to closing date deadlines is ad-hoc
A ‘last minute hitch’ can sometimes turn into a fundamental problem leading to significantly longer delays
I just bought a house, and I’m trying with great difficulty to co-ordinate my move from rented accommodation, to my new home. Once the closing date was agreed, I gave notice to my landlord to move out a couple of days after we were to get the keys to move into the house. We are now but two weeks away from the closing date, a tenant for my apartment has been lined up, and we have been notified that there will be a delay, and that the closing date will be pushed out by another month. I cannot afford to pay rent as well as a mortgage, and the hassle of uprooting my family for two months seems terribly unfair. There has been no explanation from the sellers as to why. I will now have the expense and inconvenience of paying for temporary accommodation while I await the keys. Is there any way I can get compensation for this delay?
Unfortunately, there is no easy solution. Unlike some jurisdictions, our system for agreeing and adhering to closing date deadlines is quite ad-hoc and particularly so in chain sales, which I suspect yours is. Most importantly I don’t believe you will have the double expense of rent and mortgage, as your solicitor will not draw down your loan until a day or two before the closing date. You should confirm with your solicitor that there is a binding contract in place before you make any move from your current accommodation, or have alternative accommodation in place.
A “last minute hitch” can sometimes turn into a fundamental problem leading to significantly longer delays. There are some steps that can be taken to enforce a closing date if certain criteria are in place but I doubt very much you are in a position to do this. Furthermore, that process can be somewhat drawn out. The first condition is that the agreed closing date has passed, and if so a 28-day completion can then be served. In your case, you have not yet hit the closing date so this is not an option. I do not believe you are entitled to compensation for the delay.
I think it is a question of dealing with the practicalities. Can you talk to your landlord to see if he can postpone his new tenants? Is there a family member that may have extra room in their house for you for the month? There are short-term let properties available, with many hotels having self-contained apartments available to rent on a weekly basis. You will also need to arrange storage for your belongings, but again, there are many companies providing storage facilities. Revert to the selling agent to fully understand the issue and the time delay, and that the transaction can complete by the year end.
Whilst it is of no comfort to you, the lesson is for both buyers and sellers to ensure with their solicitor that conditions laid down in contracts, including closing dates can be met before making any permanent decisions.
The time delay between “sale agreed” and contract issue is the cause of most problems in property transactions. Our conveyancing system is cumbersome and protracted, with significant delays commonplace in private treaty transactions. I have long been of the view that no property should be offered for sale until a full contract with all necessary documentation is ready for immediate issue by the vendor’s solicitor. This measure would ensure that most of the common delays are dealt with in advance and reduce unnecessary anxiety, stress and expense on the part of buyers and sellers.
Ed Carey is a chartered estate agent and member of the Society of Chartered Surveyors Ireland, scsi.ie