What if you inherit items when you purchase a property?

We regularly receive cards and calls from happy clients after they have moved into their new properties in Southend. As well as thanking us for our help, we sometimes hear comical anecdotes of strange, unwanted items being left by the previous owners. So if you ‘inherit’ certain bits and pieces, where do you stand when it comes to ownership of the goods?

The law is subtle when it comes to the acquisition of unexpected items when buying a house in Southend. If a vendor leaves something behind like a packed box which was clearly supposed to be on the removals van, you can’t simply seize the contents: you have a duty to contact the vendor and invite him to claim it by a certain date; if they fail to meet the deadline, the goods become yours.

If, on the other hand, you dig up something valuable in the garden, of which the previous owners were unaware, the property comes under the laws of treasure trove. If it’s gold or an item of historic interest and deliberately buried, then the Crown has a claim on the property (but will pay you compensation); if, on the other hand, the cache was simply lost or forgotten by a previous owner, then it’s yours.

When you do move into your new property in Southend, you could find the previous owners have deliberately left behind certain items they simply don’t need any more. Such possessions often include white goods, especially when occupants are moving into a new property with integrated kitchen appliances. If items are in good condition, consider donating them to the Essential Living Fund. This is a grant system, delivered by Southend-on-Sea borough Council which provides vital support to those in need. Good quality items are also often collected free of charge, saving you the job of organising removal.

Sadly, for most homebuyers, items left behind by previous owners are rarely wanted: moth-eaten old bed ends, for instance, which the removal men couldn’t manoeuvre through the door, or piles of rubble which were never removed after building works.

If you inspect a property for sale in Southend prior to completion and find it full of rubbish you can refuse to complete the purchase until the offending items are removed; if however, like most people, you are too busy clearing out your own old house to visit the new one just before completion, then you are deemed to be the legitimate new owner of that rusty old bicycle in the shed or those sheets of corrugated asbestos in the garage. If that does happen to you, let’s hope you find cash in the attic, rather than rubbish in the garden.

Marcus James is Lettings Manager at Pace, an independent Southend on Sea Letting Agent. He deals with every aspect of the property letting process, providing expert and candid advice together with tailor-made marketing plans for each property he lists for rental.

Marcus prides himself on ensuring our landlord clients get the best return in the right timeframe for their investments by conducting rental appraisals, letting viewings and oversees the running of the lettings department.

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