T

he dirty secret about buying a home in the Vancouver area; most sellers don’t clean.

As a tenant

As a tenant, there's a specific list of what must be cleaned before moving out, or the landlord may hold back your damage deposit to cover the costs of cleaning. But in the case of a home purchase, buyers are required to pay the seller before they receive the keys to the home. Many times, buyers have no idea what the condition of the property will be like once they move in. Also, there is no damage deposit in trust if things are not cleaned.

As a buyer

In general, a seller is obligated to deliver the property to the buyers in substantially the same condition as the date the buyer viewed the property, but there's no mention of cleaning in the standard purchase contract drafted by the BC real estate council.

In most cases, cleaning before a buyer takes possession is not considered fundamental to the contract. The term "substantially the same condition" is what sellers rely on - especially when they don’t want to or are unable to leave the property in tidy condition. Some sellers even take "substantially the same condition" to mean it's the buyer’s responsibility to clean when they move in, while other sellers may have made an honest effort to clean up. But their standards could be vastly different from the buyer's.

Dirty home or good intentions?

So what happens if the day you get the keys to your new home, it's dirty? In most cases, besides starting a small claims action, there's little to nothing a buyer can do.

Whatever happens on moving day, it’s important to keep everything in perspective. Moving can be very stressful for both buyers and sellers. We may never know a person’s reasons for leaving rubbish or unwashed floors behind. But one thing is for sure; we always hope people are passing a home on to the next owner with good intentions.

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