Have you bought a house in the UK with problems not disclosed?

Wednesday 3rd August 2022

If you are buying or selling a house in the UK, the rules have changed relatively recently about the requirement to disclose any problems. Whereas previously the onus had been on the buyer to carry out the necessary investigations to discover any potential issues with the property – due to the principle of ‘buyer beware’ or ‘caveat emptor’, this rule has now changed.

This meant that previously, the seller was not legally bound to the disclosure defects relating to the property. Since 2013, however, the law stipulates that the buying of a home falls under the Consumer Protection Against Unfair Trading Regulations.

This means that the seller is obliged to provide information on any defects or issues that could potentially impact the buyer’s decision to buy the property. The new rules state that if the seller is found to have withheld information of any importance, they are liable for prosecution.

What information must a seller disclose when selling a home?

The short answer to this question is, everything. When it comes to selling a house, you must give potential buyers both the positives and the negatives to enable them to make an informed decision about whether they want to go ahead with the purchase as well as check that they are satisfied with the price that they are paying. Some of the information that the seller must disclose when they are selling their home includes:

● Any complaints or disputes made by or about the seller

● Environmental issues

● Any disputes with the neighbours that have resulted in a written exchange or intervention from the Local Authority or Police

● Any pending, granted or denied planning permission on the property

● Any current or historic flooding issues

● Any planned or existing nearby flight paths

Details of any other sales that have fallen through as a result of a bad survey

If a violent death has occurred at the property

Whether your neighbours have any Anti-Social Behaviour Orders (ASBOs)

Any pest or other problems such as Japanese knotweed

Any structural issues

Any planned or existing motorways nearby

If there are high levels of crime in the area It is important to remember that there might be issues that bother you, but that may not necessarily bother your buyer. A nearby flight path, for example, might be a great problem for you, but your new buyer might be looking to buy somewhere with great proximity to an airport.

How long are you liable after selling a house?

Generally, the law states that if you sell your property and something should happen as a result of something that the buyer was not aware of, they can sue you as long as they make a claim within 6 years of when they become aware of the issue.

The seller is only liable if the problem was there when the sale was made and they did not disclose it. It is sometimes the case that the claim must be made within three years, so the buyer should seek legal advice if they believe that they have a claim. This is why it is essential that you are clear about all of the potential issues during the process of selling the property.

The Property Information Form (TA6)

A Property Information Form – or TA6 – is a form that is completed through the buyer and seller’s solicitors. In this form, there are several different categories that must be completed by the seller relating to a number of different areas:

● Boundaries

● Changes made to the property (e.g., extensions and alterations)

● Details about shared areas with neighbours – formal and informal agreements

● Any disputes or complaints made by or about the seller

● Occupiers

● Guarantees and warranties relating to the property

● Environmental matters

Do estate agents have to disclose survey results?

Under consumer protection regulations, the estate agent is duty-bound to disclose the results of the property survey. Legally speaking, they must disclose any ‘pertinent information about the property which may influence the buyer’s decision’.

This includes information such as if a previous sale has fallen through due to repairs that need to be carried out on the property.