Simon Lloyd

The buyer and seller had both signed. Trouble was, so had the tenant – for a six-month lease the agent forgot to mention. A very costly whoops for the agent.

Not happy, Sheena

My good friend Sheena Hyena from McMansion & Hovel Realty rang me yesterday evening in tears. This is not unusual. If I know Sheena is spending a few hours doorknock prospecting for property listings, I always expect a call about 9pm when she is guaranteed to be tired and emotional thanks to a bottle of Baileys. And who could blame her?

After all, she’s endured a whole afternoon of doors, flyscreens and gates being slammed in her face, accompanied by the obligatory yell of “*^#@ OFF!” She rings me, sobbing, to tell me she’s giving up real estate and going back into Tupperware, but of course I know the next morning she’ll bounce back with renewed confidence. All it takes is a buyer offering the asking price on one of her properties and she’s full of the joys of flogging property again.

But last night was different. Sheena’s being sued. By a buyer. And a seller. Both over the same property sale. How, I wondered as she howled into the phone, could such a thing happen?

Well, it seems that Sheena’s landed herself in very hot water indeed, all from a slip-up on the sale contract, and all because of a tenant.

The property, let’s call the address 1 Goodstreet, is owned by an investor whose tenants have been there for 18 months. Sheena listed the property and had a buyer sign a contract for a price the seller was pretty tickled with.

But there was a minor detail Sheena had overlooked in her excitement at getting a sale. The seller forgot to let her know that the tenants had only recently signed a new lease for another six months. But the buyer wanted to move in, not buy a property with sitting tenants, and vacant possession was implicit in the contract because nothing was entered in the space allotted for tenant details.

The contract went unconditional and the buyer was ready to settle. Oops. The tenants were not exactly happy about the news the buyer wanted them out. They didn’t want to terminate their lease, and weren’t prepared to be bought out of it either. Result: one pissed-off buyer refusing to settle the contract, one pissed-off seller wanting to know why he’s not getting his money, and one pissed-off tenant digging in his heels for the duration.

And guess who’s fault all this is? Well, unfortunate though it looks for hapless Sheena, as the real estate agent, in the eyes of the law it’s hers.

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