Of course, on settlement day, one of the things that I highly recommend is you go and do a pre – settlement inspection. If you are buying a place at a distance, then send around the building inspector. The building inspector has inspected the place to start with. He’s been through the property. He knows what’s there. If you can’t be there, if it’s a place removed from where you live, on settlement day you organise for the building inspector to go back through the property. If it’s somewhere close to you, you go through on settlement day yourself. If settlement is at 2:00, go through in the morning. Just make sure everything is there.
Even then, you can still get dudded. A client recently bought a small acreage, and in the contract was included a ride on mower. The ride on mower that she had viewed was a $6000 one, but because the contract didn’t state make or model, just “ride-on mower”, what she was left with after settlement was a mower from the dump shop that didn’t even work.
Even when buying properties, from little old ladies particularly, who have a habit of going around, and pulling all of the plants out of the garden, and replacing them with a cutting? It happens all the time. On settlement day, asked the building inspector to go around because it wasn’t where I lived. He inspected the property and he rang up and said, “Was there anything in the contract about the bath not being here?” “No, there wasn’t. Isn’t there a bath there?” He said, “No, there isn’t. They’ve taken the bath.” So you should immediately rang my solicitor and he should negotiate a discount. The bath replacement cost could be $2,500 to replace, but because you acted prior to settlement, you were able to get a reduction in the contract price because of it.
Whilst it can be questionable whether you can actually pull out of a contract when it has got to this stage, especially when people just take things, it may be just damages that you can claim. However, it’s at that point before you pay the money on settlement, that they are still interested to talk to you, because they want that settlement to go through. If you only make the noise after you’ve paid that final money, people are not interested to talk to you, they’ll just say, “Talk to the hand.”
You have very little recourse. When you’ve already settled and you find that your $5,000 coffee machine is gone, you only have the small claims tribunal to go to.
The seller may have a conscience and say, “Oh yeah, alright. Here’s the coffee machine back.” Or they may literally just say, “Well, sorry”, or “What coffee machine?” which is the more likely scenario. You would have to sue them and you wouldn’t have a very strong case obviously, but then it’s that whole process which costs.