Deposit not delivered, Clearing snow


Dear David,

I thought my house was conditionally sold. The buyers and I signed a deal after some negotiation. The next day, their agent said they were backing out and wouldn’t be delivering the deposit cheque. What gives? –LET DOWN

DEAR LET DOWN:  I’m seeing this happen more in the last 2 to 3 years. Personally, I find it increasingly prevalent among inexperienced buyer’s agents. There seems to be a growing disconnect between some buyers’ actions and their obligations according to the Agreement of Purchase and Sale. There’s an accepted method for to dissolving a real estate deal once it has been signed, but this isn’t it. The offending agents should know the law, so they can avoid exposing their buyers to risk.

In Canada, real estate offers are signed “under seal”. You can Google the significance of the term if you’re so inclined, but it boils down to the notion that once an Agreement of Purchase and Sale is signed, all of its terms are binding. Buyers and sellers can’t change their minds after the fact (at least not without signing additional paperwork) and a deal isn’t nullified by simply not delivering the deposit.  

When a deposit fails to arrive, it’s unlikely that the deal is going to move forward to close. It is possible for the seller to seek legal restitution if they can prove damages, but this rarely happens. You can’t force someone to buy a house. Most people prefer to save time and legal expenses by carrying on with the selling process.

That said, buyers should understand that by not delivering the deposit, they are in breach of contract and may not be able to walk away with clean hands. If the offer was unconditional and the seller ended up re-selling their home for a lower price, that seller may be able to pursue legal action against them.

Dear David,

I know the snow is coming eventually. What are my obligations with regards to clearing snow and ice? – JACK FROST

DEAR JACK: Home and business owners in Kitchener-Waterloo have 24 hours to clear their sidewalks once a snowstorm ends. You are responsible for the removal snow and ice (down to the pavement) on sidewalks adjacent to your property. If you don’t clear them, the city may do so at your expense. Be sure to avoid blocking drainage routes, fire hydrants or roadways. Salt (and melting products) can be used to reduce slippery hazards, but are damaging to the environment. Sprinkle lightly on icy areas only. Below -10 degrees, salt is no longer effective as a melting agent, so skip it altogether. When it gets this cold, try non-clumping kitty litter, or sand, which is available free to Kitchener residents at the Kitchener Operations Facility (gates 3 & 4, off Wabanaki Drive). Pro Tip: take your spouse’s car to pick it up, sand can get pretty messy.