What to Leave Behind

One of the terms of the contract that sellers have a lot of trouble with involves leaving the property “free of trash and debris”.

The problem seems to lie in defining the words “trash and debris”.

I mean, that stinky old couch on the back porch isn’t really trash, is it? It looks perfectly okay – the dog liked sleeping on it for the past ten years. We left it out on the porch because it got left out in the humidity for so long, so we’d never move it indoors. (Frankly, I wouldn’t even want to sit on it!) But it’s okay for a porch couch. Right? I mean, we don’t want it anymore, but the buyer might, right?

Wrong. If the buyer wanted it, he’d have asked for it.

The point of this story is – don’t leave stuff YOU wouldn’t keep for the buyers to get rid of.  If it’s something you think the buyers might want – ASK! They’ll either say yes or no, but don’t make it their responsibility to get rid of your trash. Or have it become an issue at the settlement table.

On the other hand, if the house was painted recently, it’s perfectly acceptable to leave the leftover paint- IN GOOD CONDITION – in the house for the buyer to do touch-ups. Especially if you label the cans so that the buyer knows which paint was used where.

You can leave a few left-over cleaning supplies, but not if they have only one good spray left in the container. A mostly full bottle of glass cleaner that you just don’t want to move would probably be welcome, but not all your dirty sponges and old rags.

You get the picture. I mean, let’s admit it. When you’re moving into a new house, you bring enough trash of your own, without having to deal with the previous owner’s trash.


(C) 2006 Susan Pruden.

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