On moving into the home a purchaser may find that certain items do not work or are in an unexpected condition. The item may not have worked when the purchaser first inspected the property.
Provided the vendor (or agent) did not misrepresent its condition (see The Contract) the purchaser will have no claim against the vendor. This emphasises the importance of fully inspecting the property before agreeing to buy or during the cooling off period. This includes testing the taps, electrical systems, stove, heater and so on. Ideally, the property should be inspected by someone such as a builder. If it is proved that the agent or vendor misrepresented the condition of the property prior to the entry into the contract, the purchaser may have an action in damages to recover the difference in value. Legal advice should be sought.
Even if the property is fully inspected things can happen before settlement. For example, the hot water service might break down. Usually, a contract states that the risk (of any damage) passes to the purchaser once the contract is accepted.
So if things break down with normal usage, or if the house burns down accidentally, the purchaser has no claim against the vendor. To be able to claim from the vendor, the purchaser will have to prove that it is most likely that the vendor negligently caused the damage after the sale was entered into.
The content of the Law Handbook is made available as a public service for information purposes only and should not be relied upon as a substitute for legal advice. See Disclaimer for details. For free and confidential legal advice in South Australia call 1300 366 424.