Ask George and Chuck: Contract determines whether access to property was allowed
Q: My husband and I are selling our home. We are in contract and are about to close. The Realtor we are using let the inspector go into our home about two weeks ago but without notifying us. Then, let the buyer’s Realtor, the buyer and her whole family come in, AGAIN without notifying us. Should this have been done?
A: That is a matter of contract law. Did you specifically give your agent, the Realtor who is acting as your agent, permission to do this? Look at your Residential Real Estate Listing Agreement, specifically item 7:
7. ACCESS TO THE PROPERTY:
A. Authorizing Access: Authorizing access to the Property means giving permission to another person to enter the Property, disclosing to the other person any security codes necessary to enter the Property, and lending a key to the other person to enter the Property, directly or through a key box. To facilitate the showing and sale of the Property, Seller instructs Broker to: (1) access the Property at reasonable times; (2) authorize other brokers, their associates, inspectors, appraisers, and contractors to access the Property at reasonable times; and (3) duplicate keys to facilitate convenient and efficient showings of the Property.
Q: Can a lease agreement be cancelled without loss of the deposit and first month’s rent if lease signed on Wednesday and request for cancellation emailed on Saturday (including one holiday in between)?
A: If the lease agreement has been signed by all parties, then in a word, “No.” There are options that you can perhaps obtain, but most likely not without penalties. The lease agreement is a contract and meant to be honored by all parties. Imagine how it would affect you if it were the landlord who wanted to cancel the lease instead of you.
Q: I am buying a condo and the owner has not paid her association fees in about six months. How does this get handled? I think the taxes are paid through her mortgage, so they should be OK. How will I know for sure? I hope you can help me stop worrying.
A: Not to worry. The closer at the title company will handle the pro-rations so you will only pay what you should pay, and the previous owner will pay what she should pay.
Q: I am selling my house and the buyer wants to close early. I’m OK with that, but I need to stay in the house for three weeks until my new house is ready. The buyer says, “OK,” but wants to charge me rent. That sounds reasonable, but how do we come up with a fair rent?
A: Whatever rent you and your buyer agree upon, in writing, is a “fair rent.” If you have a Realtor, ask him or her to perform a Current (or “competitive”) Market Analysis (“CMA”) on comparable properties for rent. If you are not using a Realtor, ask a Realtor how much he or she would charge to supply a CMA only. Another way to come up with a fair amount would be to agree to pay the amount of their new mortgage payment for that three weeks. You will use a Seller’s Temporary Residential Lease, TREC NO. 15-5, and the term of the lease will be three weeks. However, we recommend you use a Realtor or consult an attorney, or both.
To send a question visit www.AskGeorge.net and select the “Ask A Question” button. Answers to questions do not contain legal advice. If you wish to obtain legal advice, consult your own attorney. George Stephens is the broker of Stephens Properties. Charles J. Jacobus, J.D. is board certified by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization in residential and commercial real estate law.