Q: I am selling a rental house. The borough won’t let me sell it until I get a building inspector to check it for dye tests, taxes, etc. It is now costing me $5,000.00 more when the buyers said they would take it as is and would pay for it since I’m selling it so cheap. Can a municipal borough stop my sale and make me pay for the things before I sell the house? The borough has held us all up for three months. Is this legal when it was already checked two years before I sold? Also, my borough is deep into debt and just got a new building inspector who is a part-timer, third party paid assassin. The new owner doesn’t understand this either. (West Mifflin,PA)
A: Generally, when you sell a home, the seller must bring the house “up to code” (safety codes to ensure there are safety violations). You can obtain a list of what the borough requires before the municipal inspector comes for his inspection. If everything is up to code before the inspection, a certificate of occupancy is issued by the borough, and there is no reason for the inspector to come back a second time. The purpose of this is to ensure that every time a house is sold it is safe in that it meets all electrical, fire and structural safety standards. Normally, the expense of obtaining the permit is on the seller. However, the seller can negotiate with the buyer to bear this responsibility. I do not know what you have negotiated with the buyer or what your sales agreement says regarding this issue, but you might want to see if the buyer will pay for this expense.