The risks of allowing your purchaser early occupation of your property before it has been transferred into their name can be far-reaching and severe. The following are just some of the things that can go wrong:
- One of the parties can die;
- The purchaser may find a defect and refuse to proceed until it is remedied (the seller will then be at a disadvantage because the purchaser is in possession of the property);
- The purchaser may not pay occupational rental;
- The purchaser’s financial circumstances may deteriorate and the bank may withdraw the bond;
- The purchaser may make structural changes to the property without your permission;
- Something in the property (like a pool pump) may break and the parties will argue about who is responsible to repair it.
If your sale agreement is not worded clearly, the solution to the above issues may not be clear and this will cause a delay and possibly destroy the deal.
If you are considering allowing your purchaser early occupation into the property before transfer, you can mitigate your risks by paying careful attention to the specific wording of your sale agreement to ensure that it is clear with regard to the passing of risk, the duty to maintain the property, the apportionment of expenses, alterations/renovations and occupational rental. The agreement must be clear (or amended) before you let go of your keys.