Bought A House With Problems Not Disclosed?

Photo of a House Surrounded by Tall Trees

One of the scariest parts of purchasing a home is the potential for problems. After all, for most people, this is the biggest investment they’ll ever make, and that means that problems could be serious financial issues. No one wants to invest in something that’s only going to cost them more money down the line. What happens, though, if you’ve bought a house with problems not disclosed in the UK? Is there anything you can do about the problems you’re experiencing? Finding faults after buying a house is scary, but there are steps you can take to deal with the problem.

Understanding A Seller’s Legal Responsibility To Disclose Problems

As a buyer in the UK real estate market, it is important to be aware of the seller’s legal responsibility to disclose any problems with the property. This is known as the principle of caveat emptor, or “buyer beware”, which means investigating and discovering any defects is the buyer’s responsibility. Despite that fact, though, sellers are required to tell you about any problems they know about with the property. This includes both physical and legal issues, such as structural problems, boundary disputes, or planning permission issues. Failure to disclose these issues can lead to legal action against the seller, as it is seen as a breach of their duty to provide accurate and honest information about the property. In some cases, the buyer may be entitled to a refund or compensation for any losses incurred as a result of the undisclosed issues. Sellers need to be transparent and upfront about any problems with the property, as it not only protects them from legal action but also helps to build trust with potential buyers. By being open and honest about any issues, sellers can demonstrate that they are committed to providing a fair and equitable transaction for all parties involved. The bottom line is that certainly the legal responsibility to disclose problems in UK real estate rests with the seller, but buyers should always conduct their due diligence and investigations, but sellers must also be forthcoming about any known defects or issues with the property. This not only protects both parties legally but also promotes transparency and fairness in the real estate market.

The Seller’s Property Information Form – TA6

The way that sellers disclose much of the information necessary about a property is through the Law Society Property Information Form, sometimes called the TA6. It’s important to note that this is different from the Fixtures and Fittings form. On the TA6, a seller must list a variety of things. Structural defects must be addressed. These can include issues with the roof, subsidence, or any other issues with the structure of the home itself. Natural hazards must also be addressed on the seller’s property information form. For example, if the property has had issues with flooding, that must be addressed, as must problems with Japanese Knotweed or any other invasive species or pest infestation. Any changes in the boundary lines of the property must be disclosed, as must easements that are part of the home or the land on which it sits. Additionally, there are a variety of legal issues that must be disclosed on this form. Ongoing disputes have to be listed, as do covenants. If planning permission has ever been rejected, that must also be part of that. Legal issues within the neighbourhood should be on there like disputes that have necessitated calls to the police or lawyers. If the seller has information about a new build or development that will soon be nearby, it should be listed on the form too. If the property has had a problem with rot or dampness, it must be listed on the form. Additionally, any material defects like particular problems with certain fixtures or fittings, should be there too. If the property will be rented to others and there are tenants or matters related to tenants, those must also be part of that list.

Only Significant Issues Matter To The Law

While the above list isn’t an exhaustive one, the bottom line is that significant issues related to the property must become part of the records surrounding that property. Not every issue is considered legally significant, though. Imagine, for example, the bath has dripping taps. That’s not required to be disclosed. Real plumbing problems after buying a house in the UK might be things like consistent drainage issues or pipes that simply don’t work. What’s the difference? Any issue that can be resolved easily and without extensive expense does not have to be listed on the property. In most cases, any issue that is not dangerous to the buyer or a member of their household (or somehow diminishes the value of the property) does not have to be listed.

Who Is Responsible When You Buy A House With Undisclosed Problems?

In the UK real estate market, it is the seller’s legal responsibility to disclose any known defects or issues with the property. This legal obligation includes both physical and legal issues, such as structural problems, boundary disputes, or planning permission issues. Failure to disclose these issues can lead to legal action against the seller, as it is seen as a breach of their duty to provide accurate and honest information about the property. If a buyer discovers any undisclosed problems with the property after the purchase, they may be entitled to legal action against the seller. In some cases, the buyer may be entitled to a refund or compensation for any losses incurred as a result of the undisclosed issues.

What You Can Do If You’re Buying A House With Undisclosed Problems

If you are still in the process of buying the house, and you have yet to exchange contracts or complete the sale, yet you notice problems with it, you do have a few different options if you’ve noticed problems that were not initially disclosed to you. You can make the seller pay for the cost of repairs, which helps you avoid financial losses. You can also reduce your offer for the home, which may help to offset the repairs you will have to pay for after the purchase of the home.

If the seller isn’t interested in either of these options, you’ll have to decide whether you should continue with the overall purchase process. In many cases, however, sellers will be concerned enough about losing the sale that they will drop their price or pay for the required work.

What You Can Do If You’ve Already Bought A House With Undisclosed Problems

Things become far more complex if you’ve already completed the purchase of a home, and then you find problems with the house after purchase on the UK real estate market. It is possible to claim that your transaction was influenced by the lack of information you got from the seller, and in those situations, you can claim damages. Remember, though, the principle of caveat emptor. It’s your job as a buyer to properly examine everything before you complete the transaction, so sellers can’t always be held responsible for undisclosed property issues. Legally, the fault is often on the buyer.

In the event you believe you can claim against the seller, though, you’ll need to talk to a speciality property solicitor in cases. Offer them all of the information and documentation you have, including any evidence you have from the seller, their conveyancer, and their estate agent. Your solicitor can then help you identify any potential problems that will stand up in court, and if you can prove the seller or his representatives did not provide you with the information they should have, you may find success in court.

In some cases, you can obtain compensation from the estate agent. Thanks to the Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations of 2008, misleading actions (like the omission of information) that allow the buyer to move forward with the transaction are a legal issue.

Estate agents must offer true information about a property’s size, the EPC rating, the tax banding from the Council, and other details about extensions and parking. The photos also have to show the property in its current condition.

If you feel like the estate agent misled you, you can take a screenshot of the listing and provide additional information to your solicitor to see if you can make a legal claim.

It’s important to note that should you decide to seek compensation from either party, the potential outcomes are numerous. Obviously, the claim could fail. The court may decide that either the misrepresentation didn’t exist or it didn’t cause any real harm to the buyer.

The court could also find that the property was misrepresented when the buyer started finding faults after buying a house, but it was done because the seller was genuinely unaware of the problem, and that may mean the information was accidentally excluded on the TA6 form. You may still be able to claim damage, though, because you were negatively affected by the misrepresentation.

It’s also possible that the court will decide the seller did negligently misrepresent the property, and as a result, the buyer decided to buy without all of the necessary information. In these situations, the court isn’t saying the seller lied on the property information form, just that information was missed. In this situation, the court would decide on the appropriate damage amount.

Reckless misrepresentation is another outcome the court could decide on, and in that situation, the court would find the seller didn’t make certain all information was checked before it was provided. For example, if the seller didn’t disclose plumbing issues in the UK hoping they wouldn’t be a problem or the seller lied about Japanese Knotweed, that may fall into this category. Again, the court would decide on the amount of damages required.

Yet another possible outcome is fraudulent misrepresentation. In these situations, the court would find that the seller lied on a property information form UK solicitors asked to be completed or omitted key information so they could sell the home for more. For example, if the seller didn’t disclose asbestos in the UK or the seller did not disclose subsidence because they knew their properties wouldn’t sell, that may fall into this category. At that point, the court would find that the seller would have to pay the resulting damages. In severe cases, the court can rule that the property contract should be rescinded, nullifying the sale of the house.

How To Prevent Buying A House With Undisclosed Problems – Protecting Yourself As A Buyer

There are many ways to protect yourself as a buyer. The first is to engage an experienced and trustworthy estate agent. Choosing the right estate agent is paramount to protecting your interests. Look for professionals with a stellar reputation, years of experience, and a proven track record of client satisfaction. They will take you through the home-buying process as a whole, share property history, and help identify potential red flags.

Next, you’ll want to take your time. Never rush into a home purchase without conducting a comprehensive research. Start by exploring the property’s history, previous sales records, and any relevant planning permissions. Websites like Zoopla, Rightmove, and the Land Registry can provide valuable information about a property’s past and reveal any potential problems.

Additionally, while viewing potential properties, keep a keen eye out for signs of hidden problems. Look for cracks on walls, signs of dampness, water stains, uneven floors, or any visible signs of poor maintenance. Don’t hesitate to ask questions about the property’s condition and request clarification on anything that seems suspicious.

Consider having a professional property surveyor done. There are three different levels of property surveys. The Condition Report is the most basic and affordable property survey available. It is suitable for new or well-maintained properties and provides an overview of the property’s condition. The report highlights any significant defects and advises on necessary repairs and maintenance. The HomeBuyer Report is a more detailed survey that is suitable for conventional properties in reasonable condition. It covers all aspects of the property, including structural issues, dampness, and other defects. The report also includes a valuation and estimates the cost of any necessary repairs. The Building Survey is the most comprehensive property survey available and is suitable for larger or older properties or those in poor condition. The survey offers a closer look at the property’s condition, including any defects, and recommends necessary repairs and maintenance. The survey also includes a valuation and an estimation of repair costs.

What you don’t want to do is rely on an informal survey from your mortgage company or an estate agent. You’ll need to go with something far more extensive, as that will allow you to seek compensation in the event you discover undisclosed problems.

You may also want to engage with the local community and neighbours to gain insights into the property’s history and any ongoing concerns. They may provide valuable information relating to issues that sellers might not disclose willingly.

Protecting Yourself As A Seller

As a seller, the last thing you want is a claim of misinformation against you. After all, it can be fairly easy to accidentally omit information. As a result, be sure you choose the right estate agent and conveyancer. Actively seek out the best professionals in the area, and ask others for their recommendations on the right professionals who can help.

Don’t forget, too, that you should take your time with the TA6 form. Ask questions. Work with your estate agent and conveyancer to be sure you’ve included as much information as possible on the form. You may also want to pay an RICS-qualified surveyor to produce a professional report about any problems with your property so that you can provide that information to the buyer. Also, make certain your solicitor carefully undertakes the required checks and searches so you can add that information to the TA6. Note anything of importance so you don’t find yourself with legal issues.

Additionally, simply dealing with common repairs and maintenance as they arise will help you stay on top of things. Dealing with them as they come up instead of dealing with them all at once right before you try to sell your home may make your job easier.

Communication Is Key

Protecting yourself as a buyer and a seller comes down to a single key aspect – good communication throughout the process. Keeping the lines of communication open is the single best way to protect yourself and your biggest investment.

FAQs

How Long Do You Have To Declare Subsidence?

There’s no limit on how long you have to declare subsidence if you’re selling a house. In the event the home has ever been affected by subsidence, you must declare that fact to the potential buyer. Even if the problem was decades ago and you had it repaired, you must declare it.

How Is The Law Different In Scotland?

The laws, if you’re buying a property in Scotland, are fairly similar, with one key difference. The biggest difference is that the seller must organise a home report with an Energy Report, a Single Survey, and a Property Questionnaire in one package for the buyer. Much of the process, though, is the same. If, for example, faults were found after purchase in Scotland, the seller would still likely be liable for that oversight.

What If My House Leaks After Purchase In The UK?

If after you’ve purchased your home you discover a roof leak, you can talk to your solicitor about the problem. Because it can seriously damage your property, it should have been disclosed on the TA6 form. However, if it’s something a survey should have uncovered, the court may not find in your favour.

I Found Damp After Buying A House In The UK. What Can I Do?

If you’ve found dampness in your home after completing the purchase, your best first step is to contact a solicitor for advice. If you paid for surveys before you bought them and the surveyor missed them, you may be able to make a negligence claim. If you have evidence that the seller actively tried to hide the problem, you may also have a claim, but the best way to understand what you can do is to talk to a solicitor.

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