Last Updated on May 1, 2024

Does A Seller Have to Clean Their House Before I Move In? | Real Estate Question

By Alan F Macdonald

Short Answer

No.

Long Answer

There are clean people and there are messy people. The only things that’ll make a messy person clean are shame, guilt and a contract.

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Sellers do not have to clean a house before they move out. Sellers do, however, need to make sure the house is in the same sort of condition it was in when a purchase contract was accepted – within reason. That means that the house is likely going to look much like when a buyer last saw it – no better and no worse – and there is a clause in AREA‘s residential real estate purchase contract to that effect.

Unless you have added something in your purchase contract that says the seller will shampoo the carpets or wash the drapes or clean the gutters, it’s not going to happen. Lots of people want the other party to be happy when they move in to a home they’re selling, and some people just don’t have the time, didn’t think of it, or don’t care.

And normal wear and tear is reasonable also. If a seller moves out and scratches the floor a bit, or dents a wall, there’s not much you can do about it. Asking your lawyer for a holdback is one option, but it isn’t likely reasonable unless the damage is severe or intentional. You see there’s this thing call “reasonable” and it has a legal definition. If it looks like the condition is reasonable considering the circumstances, you’re likely out of luck.

Now, if there is something big that’s wrong with the home when you take possession, sure, you can do something about it. Say, for example, that a seller put huge holes in the walls before they left, then in that case a holdback is likely reasonable. But if those holes were there when you viewed the property, or there is a bathtub in the back yard that you don’t like but that’s how it looked when you bought it, maybe you bought that mess as well – it is, after all your house now.

Learn more about buying a house in my step-by-step guide for first-time homebuyers in Edmonton.

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