Home sellers and their agents are now required to inform all prospective purchasers of any information that may affect the value of the house.
This can include information on any structural defects as well as details about previous sales which fell through. Sellers will also have to disclose information about problematic neighbours, such as ones that throw the occasional noisy party.
No more caveat emptor or ‘buyer beware’
Previously houses were sold on a ‘caveat emtpor’ or ‘buyer beware’ basis, meaning houses were sold subject to all defects, leaving the onus on the buyer to discover any potential problems with property they were interested in buying.
While the Property Misdescriptions Act prevented sellers and estate agents from making any incorrect or misleading statements, it did not cover the omission of important information which may have affected the purchase.
Onus now on the seller and estate agent
Due to recent regulatory changes property sales are now covered under the Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations which requires sellers and their agents to disclose everything that could affect the buyer’s decision.
If a seller or agent has any information which might have an impact on the buyer’s decision to purchase the property or affect the value of it, they now have to disclose it or risk a possible prison sentence of up to 2 years if later discovered by the buyer.
Use a survey to ensure you are covered
It is always wise to get a survey from a local chartered surveyor, whether you are buying or selling, who will be able to highlight any possible defects that may affect a property sale.
These are complicated issues to before you take action please seek professional advice. We work with a number of chartered surveyors who will be able to assist you.
For more information or to discuss these issues please contact us.
This article was written by Stephen Eccles. a Partner and Head of our Litigation Team. This article is only intended to provide a general summary and does not constitute legal advice. Specific legal advice should be taken on each individual matter. This article is based on the Law as at June 2014.