What is Vacant Possession?

Sarah Lake

Written by Sarah Lake, Chartered Legal Executive at Spire Solicitors LLP

When buying or selling a property, you will be asked if the property is being sold with or without vacant possession. Whilst the differences may seem obvious, it is important to understand the distinction to ensure the property is left as expected on completion.

Selling or buying with Vacant Possession

If you are selling a property with vacant possession, it is your responsibility to ensure the property is vacant on completion. You will need to ensure that all belongings are removed from the property unless you’ve agreed in advance that some items are to remain. If you or your tenants leave behind furniture, rubbish or any items that will prevent the buyer from immediately using the property, you may breach the terms of your contract and the buyer could make a claim against you.

As the seller, you will also be required to complete a Property Information Form which should confirm the position in relation to occupiers.  If there are any occupiers at the property, these will be noted and will be required to sign the contract to confirm they will vacate the property on completion.  You can take action under the contract if the occupiers have not vacated.  If an occupier did not sign the contract then they may claim rights to remain at the property.

If you are the buyer, it is advisable to visit the property immediately following completion to ensure the property has been vacated. If you are buying a property with a tenant who isn’t the seller there is a risk they may refuse to move out. Therefore, we would advise you do not exchange contracts until you have confirmation that the tenant has vacated.

Selling or buying without Vacant Possession

If you are selling with tenants in situ, the property will be sold without vacant possession. As the seller, you must disclose the Tenancy Agreement relating to the property and this must be detailed in the contract for sale. If you are the buyer, your solicitor will be able to provide some basic guidance, however it may be worth speaking to a Landlord and Tenant specialist to ensure you are aware of the terms and implications of the tenancies before you proceed.

If you would like to discuss any points in this article further, please contact Spire Solicitors LLP on 01603 677077 for all your legal needs.