Q: Hello. I just sold a rental house. While I was at the closing, transitioning ownership from me to the buyer, one of the tenants called me to say he returned after being gone for a week and saw that there is water leaking. After we finished signing the legal buy/sell papers, I went to the rental house and found that a water pipe in a 2nd floor bathroom was leaking at a solder joint. There is quite a bit of water damage to the flooring and ceiling in the garage below. It may cost more than $1,000 to repair. (insurance deductible is $1,000, so not likely to be a claim). My question is, who is responsible for the cost of repairing the damage? When we closed on the sale, the buyer received a credit for rent income beginning on the day of purchase, which is the day it appears the damage occurred. A 2nd question: If the buyer was to challenge the situation and say the pipe may have broke the night before closing, and we cannot prove it one w ay or the other, does that make a difference? It does not appear the water was leaking for a real long time, so there is not likely a way to make a definitive determination.
A: Wow, I can’t even believe (well, I sorta can, being in the business for 30+ years) that you are asking a question, that YOU, know in your soul, the answer to!
REMEMBER the Golden rule! If you were in that buyers position, what would you want (& expect) them to do? YOU KNOW! – So, just do the right thing, work out some kind of credit & make the ‘problem ‘ a thing of the past. You will create good ‘Karma’ & better ‘luck’ in all your future dealings.
Followup Question: I do know what the ‘right’ thing is to do, and it is to take care of the problem with the broken water pipe and associated damage. That’s exactly what I did. Within an hour I had my repair person at the house to pull out the bathroom vanity cabinet, repair the leaking pipe, extract the water from the flooring, etc… I wasn’t thinking at the time about who would pay. I swept and shoveled the water and ice from the garage floor, moved furniture and personal belongings of the tenant from the affected bedroom so it would not get damaged from the water, assisted the handyman, took a dehumidifier over there to expedite the drying process, etc… The buyer knows I’m handling it.
I am looking for the ‘legal’ answer to the question. I was hoping, from a legal standpoint, it is a buyer’s expense to repair because he received rent income beginning the day of closing. If that was the case, I would ask the buyer, who did not need to deal with this surprise problem, if he would be so kind as to reimburse me for half of the expense even though legally he is responsible for the entire amount. I know that’s what I would want if I was the buyer and legally would have been stuck making arrangements to fix the problem and pay the entire repair bill. I would have been relieved I didn’t have to deal with it.
I’ve always done what I can to be a good person and create good karma 🙂
A: Sounds like you did, in fact, do the ‘right thing’! Since I am not an attorney, but a Licensed Real Estate Broker with 30+ years of experience, that is what I can share with you. I have seen, in the past (unfortunately) sellers that once the closing was done – said ‘ oh well’ & sorta, stuck the other party. In some cases they were sued, in others, not. I would, in your case, at least communicate with the new owner about the whole situation & ask for them to ‘share’ in the cost of remedy with you. Otherwise, keep doing what you are now, follow your instinct & the ‘golden rule’ – it will (in the long run) never let you down.I applaud you in your actions so far – Way to go!!