Vacant possession is a term commonly used when selling or purchasing a piece of property. It is a legal obligation of the relevant party to ensure that the property is in a proper state that is fit to be occupied. “Vacant possession” otherwise known as VP among some legal circles is present to ensure that the person coming to occupy or possess a piece of property has full freedom to do whatever he/she wishes to do with the property. Any impediment left by the previous tenant or owner of the property is deemed a violation of vacant possession.
There however always rises cases where one cannot clearly define the term “vacant.” For instance, in certain cases, even the smallest pieces of rubbish could pass off as a violation of vacant possession. In other courts rubbish no matter the amount would not qualify.
Cases where vacant possession is given
The word “vacant” is still not a clearly defined term so there has to be a set of rules as to when vacant possession can be given. Here are some of the main circumstances where vacant possession is given:
- When a piece of property is sold or a lease is granted
- When a tenant vacates
- When a tenant vacates the property or breaks the contract early
It is important to note that vacant possession is required for a purchaser to actually complete the transaction. If vacant possession is not given, then the purchaser has the right to settle the matter in a court of law. Here he would be required to prove that the previous occupier or owner of the property did not entirely “vacate” the premises.
What “vacant possession” really means
For vacant possession, the property must first be empty of all items or what in legal terms is known as chattels. Chattels are any items that might be deemed to impede the full occupation of the property or in any way curtail the purchaser’s right to enjoy the property fully. Chattels can include pictures, boxes, furniture, equipment and all sorts of goods.
Chattels can also include any form of rubbish that is left on the property. In fact, most of the cases involving vacant possession revolve around the issue of rubbish. As mentioned earlier the nature and the amount of rubbish that constitutes a violation of vacant possession is not clearly defined. It is up to the plaintiff to prove that the rubbish in some way prevented him from fully enjoying the property.
One other requirement for vacant possession is that any people do not occupy the property. The seller must ensure that any individual including family, friends, acquaintances, employees and so on vacate the premises before the buyer arrives.
Vacant possession also requires that there be no one else with the right to possess the property. Vacant possession will not be given if anyone besides the buyer has any legal claim to the property in the form of a lease, a deed, an occupational licence and so on.
It suffices to say the vacant possession is an important part of a real estate transaction. The seller must ensure that all the conditions about vacant possession are met so as to complete the deal.