Several forms will be updated as of Jan. 1 to address issues related to smart home technology. Eleven forms were revised by the Standard Forms Committee this fall; you can see all the upcoming changes on the Standard Forms page. Most of the changes can be summarized as follows:
- Sales agreements will call more attention to items that may or may not be included with the sale of a property. Particularly when it comes to smart home devices, many newer models of traditional items are becoming wireless, yet at the same time having a broader reach. For example, security systems and doorbells, which used to be hardwired and operate in one part of a property are now wireless and can integrate with mobile devices anywhere on the property. Rather than fighting it out at the settlement table whether certain items should be considered “fixtures,” it’s worth spending a little extra time in advance specifically identifying what will stay and what will go. The parties will also have some additional responsibilities in transferring ownership of these devices, such as clearing data and passwords and resetting systems.
- Buyer and tenant contracts will contain a new warning to clients about recordings on a property. The first is a general warning about recording individuals without their consent. It is quite common these days for buyer or tenants walking through a property to record or live-stream their activity; however, they should be very careful about recording statements made by other people who may also be present at the property without that person’s consent. The second warning is for when the camera is turned around and the potential buyer or tenant is the one being recorded. It is a reminder that the property may be under surveillance and that private conversations should be held elsewhere.
- Seller and landlord contracts will also contain a notice about recordings by both parties. The property owner will now be reminded that a potential buyer or tenant touring a property may want to record their experience and suggests that all personal or confidential items should be secured away prior to showings. The second warning is for the property owner who has cameras installed on the property which are capable of recording audio. Recording the conversations of others could be a violation of wiretapping laws and sellers should seek the advice of counsel if they do not feel comfortable removing or turning off recording devices.
These changes and others can be reviewed in more detail on the Standard Forms page. Any questions can be sent to me at [email protected].