If you are selling or buying a home, you may encounter a clause in your agreement that states that your property must be left in “broom swept” or “broom clean” condition. What exactly does broom swept mean and why misinterpreting this condition can lead to legal arguments and bruised feelings?
What is broom swept condition?
Unless professional cleaning was included as a condition within the agreement of purchase and sale, the seller is typically expected to leave the property in what some in the industry refer to as “broom-swept condition”. Broom swept or broom clean condition typically includes sweeping or vacuuming the floors, removing garbage, emptying cupboards, clearing closets and appliances (if included) and making sure that the property is free of any personal belongings (again, unless they were included).
A common complaint from buyers when they take possession of a property is that sellers will leave their stuff behind. From garbage bags to old paint cans, shampoo bottles in the shower, to old furniture, leaving personal belongings behind for a buyer to dispose of can quickly escalate to arguments and even legal ramifications between the buyer, seller, and their respective lawyers.
Sometimes things are left behind with best intentions. If you’re selling, you may think the buyer may want to keep something. However, thinking they may want to keep something doesn’t mean that the buyer actually does. You should ask beforehand, so you know whether to leave it. Otherwise, you’ll need to take it with you when you leave.
For buyers, scheduling a walkthrough a few days before closing can also help identify any potential situations where stuff is left behind and allows for the opportunity to speak with the sellers to clarify what’s going and what’s staying.
My seller left belongings and garbage behind. What can I do?
In the situation where your agreement states that the property shall be left in broom swept condition, but you unlock the door to find unexpected items or garbage left behind, document the situation by taking pictures and notify your Real Estate lawyer as soon as possible. In most cases, your lawyer will communicate with the seller’s lawyer and request they rectify the situation and remove their belongings or compensate the buyer for removal costs.
I’m the seller. How should I leave my place?
Regardless of whether it is in the agreement or not, leaving your place tidy for the buyer is a common courtesy. No new owner wants to come into their new home to have to get rid of stuff left behind by others.
You don’t need to leave your place spotless and immaculate, but most definitely, pack all your personal items and dispose of items you are not taking with you in a proper manner prior to your move-out date. Leave your property in clean condition, free of dirt, garbage and clutter.
What if garbage is improperly left on the curb?
Some sellers think it’s ok if they dispose their items by putting them on the curb and assuming it will be picked up by garbage collection.
Every municipality has different garbage collection schedules and may or may not accept some items for disposal. Therefore, simply putting items on the curb is not a good solution for sellers unless you’re certain that these items will be picked up and are within the guidelines and limits of the municipality.1