Creating a NJ Use and Occupancy Agreement that Works for Buyer and Seller

use and occupancy agreement

“Help! My New Place Isn’t Ready, But My Home’s Buyers Need to Move In!”
How a Use & Occupancy Agreement can keep everyone in a “home sweet home” while all the paperwork is finalized.

Congratulations – you sold your home! And you found your new digs too!

But now you’re in that awkward in-between stage, hammering out the final details of the sales and juggling settlement dates on all the properties. What happens if those dates don’t align, and your buyer needs to move in to your house before you’re ready to move out?

Welcome to the land of Use & Occupancy agreements, where either you or your buyer agree to stay at the home for a set fee and a set time until all the dust settles and the transfer of the properties is legally complete.

What Is a Use & Occupancy Agreement?

A Use & Occupancy agreement – also known as a U&O – grants someone permission to do just that – use (get the benefit of) and occupy (inhabit) a property. No more, no less. For example, it can grant your buyer permission to move in and live at your home, or perhaps just leave a couch, bed, and other personal items there, until ownership is transferred. Or, it can allow you to stay in your home after settlement until your new home’s settlement is also finalized.

Five Tips to Ensuring Your U&O is A-OK

Home buying is stressful enough; follow these tips to keep your U&O agreement stress-free.

  1. Set Term Limits. Confirm the start and end dates, and how to remove the occupant if those dates are not honored.
  2. Show Me the Money. Set a rate that makes everyone comfortable with the compensation for use of the property. Be sure to include who’s responsible for electric, water, wi-fi, cable, telephone, and any other household fees. (It’s not a lease, but it should cover many of the same financial obligations.) Consider the benefits of a daily rate, just in case the agreement needs to be shorter or longer than originally anticipated.
  3. Practice Good Housekeeping. Who will be responsible for liability insurance? Who handles regular maintenance and upkeep? Can the buyer start home renovations during the U&O agreement period? Are you going to establish an escrow account to cover any damages that occur? Work out those details ahead of time.
  4. Take a Walk. Moving day is not the time for surprises. Just as you’d do a walk-through before settlement, make sure you do a walk-through at the start and end of the U&O term so everyone can agree on any changes to the condition of the property, and how to handle the situation if it arises.
  5. Spell it Out. Type it out in Word, hand write it on your favorite stationery, or grab a napkin and scribble it down at your favorite restaurant, but make sure you document all the terms of your U&O, and have both parties sign and date it. And if you’d like help ensuring that all the I’s are dotted and the T’s are crossed in your U&O, give us a call at Veitengruber Law. We’ll be glad to help you bridge the gap and keep the property – and everyone in it – happily occupied during the transition.

 

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