Weird Phone call... NEED HELP!!

9 Replies

So a little background. I purchased a house in sept of 2014. Earlier this month I get a phone call at my work from a local company that deals in water softeners. They tell me that the water softener at the house I purchased in Sept of last year is a lease unit and that I can begin paying 25 a month for it, they can pick it up, or I can pay off the remaining balance of 1600 dollars. He has sent me a copy of the previous owners contract and it is a Lease to own contract with an agreed to purchase price, each month half the payment goes to rent and half goes towards the paydown of the remaining balance. There's nowhere in the house contract that mentions transfer of ownership of the water softener or anything for that matter about the water softener. 

So I guess my question is how should I proceed? Should I pay them and go after sellers for my money? or is this something I should disregard and the company needs to go after the previous owners to fulfil their contract? or should I just charge it to the game and move on?

I have tried to be as descriptive as possible without being too long winded, I have got to believe that I'm not the first to have dealt with something like this. 

Thanks and Adv!

Is this a water unit connected to the main unit of your whole house??

If it is those are expensive.

If it's just some small unit for one or two items of the house then they might be gouging you.

The contract runs with the previous owner who signed it but the language will be important on whether they can place a lien on the property or recover the unit etc. In other words what recourse is listed in case of a default on the agreement.

Someone dropped the ball if this is a whole house system.

The seller should have been made to sign a statement that the system is paid for and no amount is owed.

No legal advice given. 

Hey @Joel Owens  Thanks for the response & YES this is a Whole House System!! the rental agreement he sent me is very vague and does not include the terms and conditions. I have requested it. In the mean time I found this online. 

Vacation Rental Property Management
We do the work. You get the ROI.
We do it all for your vacation rental. All—marketing, pricing, guest requests, housekeeping & more.
Free income estimate

Rental Contracts

When fixtures and chattels are rented, it must be so noted on both the listing contract and the APS. A hot water tank, furnace, satellite receiver, air conditioning unit, security alarm system or water softener, for example, could be rented by the homeowner. In such case, a seller does not have the legal right to sell it. Hence, any rental fixtures and chattels would not be included in the sale.

If they are transferable to a subsequent owner (they may not be), a clause must be included in the APS which clearly states that the buyer has agreed to assume the terms of the rental contract. If not, the buyer will believe they've bought the 'rented' fixtures and chattels. The seller could then be held responsible by the rental company for a penalty or the balance of a buy-out of the rented equipment, whether fixture or chattel. Or the buyer could be drawn into a legal conflict between the rental company and the previous homeowner. Either way, it would be a messy, potentially expensive situation for all involved, including one or both the agents.

Did you use agents for this transaction @Rob Anderson  ? If so, I would say this is their screwup and the kind of thing their errors and omissions insurance should cover. Now, I'm not an expert on this, but I'm pretty sure that would be the drill in my state- things may vary considerably where you are. But I would start by calling your agent. Hopefully they'll jump on it and start trying to make it right, but if they don't  you may need to talk to their managing broker

If you did the sale on your own then it's probably going to be a bit messier.

If you used agents, and a local Realtor purchase agreement, it should have had language about this in would need to be disclosed. Start with the listing agent.  If you used a 2 page DIY purchase contract, probably not.

@Rob Anderson - start with your buyer's agent, if you had one.  They have a fiduciary responsibility to work on your behalf and protect your best interest.  In this case, they didn't do that.  @Jean Bolger is correct by saying this is something the agents and brokerage office' insurance will cover.  The buyer's agent will work with the listing agent to get them involved and between the 2 of them their insurance should cover the costs.  If they want to go after the seller for the costs, that is up to them, but you shouldn't have to take on those legal costs.  They should because they didn't properly verify the information. 

@Rob Anderson Please let us know how this turns out. I don't have any previous experience with such a situation for something like a water softener, but a client of mine did get in the middle of a similar instance when they moved into a unit with a stove that was apparently RTO from the previous tenant. The previous tenant was evicted and apparently forgot to take the thing with him, and the landlord had purchased the property recently in a bundle deal and assumed the stove was part of the purchase. It worked out that while the landlord was perfectly willing to just buy a new stove, my client was feeling his oats and refused to let the RTO folks in to repossess it. As this wasn't a contract with a lien clause, as it was with the renter, not owner, they gave up after a week and just went after the old evicted tenant for the remaining balance on the stove. No clue if that was all legal, nor is it advice, but I wonder if, assuming there's no ability for them to impose a lien, if you could just do the same?