If you have dodgy electrical wiring or a nightmare neighbour, are you legally obligated to tell potential buyers about the problem? Or can you keep schtum in the hopes of sealing the deal?
If there are physical problems with your property, such as a leaking roof or rising damp, these will probably show up on the buyer’s survey (assuming they pay for one), so there’s little point in trying to hide the problem. But what about the issues that aren’t covered by a survey? If the only way a potential buyer is likely to find out about a problem with your property is if you tell them, what can you keep quiet about and what do you have to declare when selling a house?
What Does the Law Say?
There is a common misconception that the onus lies with the buyer to conduct due diligence before buying a property known as “caveat emptor” or buyer beware. If someone is cavalier enough to invest in a property without doing thorough research, that’s their problem, right? Not quite. Or rather, not anymore.
In 2013, property sales were included in the updated Consumer Protection Against Unfair Trading Regulations, which put the onus on the seller to share any information that might impact the buyer’s decision to proceed with the purchase or not.
What Is a TA6 Form?
While it is not strictly mandatory, most reputable solicitors and conveyancers will ask the seller to complete a Property Information Form, also called a TA6. This document is designed to provide the buyer with all the details they need to make an informed decision about whether or not to proceed with purchasing the property. The seller should provide details of any issues they are aware of relating to:
- Changes made to the property, such as extensions
- Communal areas shared with neighbours via formal and informal agreements
- Any disputes or complaints made against the seller
- Current occupiers of the property
- Guarantees and warranties affecting the property
- Environmental matters, such as the presence of Japanese Knotweed
What Could Happen If You Lie?
If you choose to lie or omit information about your property, the buyer has the right to sue you under the Misrepresentation Act 1967. If you genuinely do not know something about the property, you can state this on the TA6 form. However, the burden of proof lies with the seller — if challenged, you must be able to show that you did not lie or deliberately omit information on the TA6.
If you are found guilty of misrepresentation, the buyer could be awarded tens of thousands of pounds. In extreme cases, the court can order rescission of the contract, which means you must buy the property back and cover the buyer’s expenses.
How Can You Sell a House with Problems?
Many problems could arise with a property, from property disputes over boundaries and noise to dry rot and Japanese Knotweed. In nearly all cases, the best way to increase the chances of selling a house with problems is to do all you can to resolve the issues before putting the property up for sale.
If you have an ongoing dispute with a neighbour, try to reach an amicable solution. If this isn’t possible, seek expert advice from legal professionals and mediators to see if there is a way forward. And remember, what is a nightmare situation for you may not bother your buyer. For example, if loud music in the daytime is driving you mad because you work from home, but your buyer only returns home in the evening, there may be no need to do anything and certainly no reason to conceal the “problem”.
If there are physical problems with your property, explore the time and costs involved in repairing these before selling. You may be reluctant to invest in repairs to a home you no longer plan to live in, but removing the problem could ultimately lead to a quicker sale. A serious case of dry rot, for example, could render your property unmortgageable, reducing the pool of potential buyers to those who have the cash to buy your home outright.
If you have neither the budget nor the time to invest in eradicating the problem, House Buyer Bureau can purchase your property for cash in as little as 7-days. We buy all types of property in any condition and location in England and Wales.