What must a seller disclose when selling a property?
When selling a property, you want to show it in the best possible light. If you don't disclose any major issues to your buyer however, you could be sued.
What does the law say?
For many years, the onus was on the buyer to carry out due diligence on the property they were purchasing to make sure there were no good reasons not to buy it. This principle was known as ‘caveat emptor’, or buyer beware.
Since 2013 however, selling a property comes under the Consumer Protection Against Unfair Trading Regulations.
This places the onus on the seller to divulge anything that may impact the buyer’s decision on whether or not to go ahead with the purchase. If the seller omits anything of importance (that they were aware of) of they could face prosecution, whether it was an issue they were asked about or not.
The Property Information Form (TA6)
The is the form that will be sent to the seller’s solicitor by the buyer’s solicitor, and requires the seller to give details about the property under various categories. These categories include:
- Changes made to the property (extensions, alterations)
- Shared areas with neighbours, formal and informal agreements
- Disputes or complaints (made by or about the seller)
- Occupiers (who lives at the property)
- Guarantees and warranties affecting the property
- Environmental matters
We recommend that you download a copy of the TA6 form as soon as possible so you can see what questions will be asked and how best to tackle them. You can download a copy of the property information form(TA6) here.
What issues are considered important?
If in doubt, get advice from your solicitor as to what you need to tell your buyer about.
It is incredibly important to be honest; however painful that may seem, it is better than being sued down the line (this could happen months or even years after selling your property).
Relevant issues include:
- Any disputes with neighbours that have resulted in written exchanges, or police or local authority involvement.
- Whether the neighbours have any anti-social behaviour orders (ASBOs).
- Planning permission on the property, be that pending, granted or denied.
- Japanese knotweed or problems with pests, current or historic.
- Flooding issues, current or historic.
- Structural issues.
- Whether there is a flight path nearby, or one planned.
- Whether there is a motorway within view, or one planned.
- A previous sale falling though due to bad survey results on the property.
- Your neighbourhood having high levels of crime.
- A violent death that has occurred at the property.
We have a database of articles that help seller's tackle issues that could affect the sale of their home. These include:
Your buyer may not be put off
Some things that bother you may not bother your buyer. If your neighbour has a barking dog that drives you up the wall, you may find that your buyer has their own dogs and does not consider this an issue. If there are a lot of noisy kids in your street, you may find a buyer with a young family who will fit right in.
More fundamental issues such as structural problems or flooding could make the property more difficult to sell, and should be reflected in the asking price first off. There are also things you can do to reassure your buyer about certain issues you have declared.
Demonstrate how issues have been resolved wherever possible
Paperwork here is key. If you have had a problem with pests for example, produce any paperwork that proves you had them dealt with. If your property has been flooded, offer as much evidence as you can about what has been done to prevent this happening again.
If disputes with neighbours have been resolved, show your buyer any written correspondence that demonstrates this.
Being economical with the truth will arouse suspicion
Giving limited detail about problems with your home on the TA6 form will almost certainly arouse the suspicion of your buyer’s solicitor.
The solicitor will ask for further clarification in the ‘additional enquiries’ phase of the conveyancing process.
Failing to give full details at the outset will not endear you to your buyer, and is ultimately not in your best interests.
You may have a home that could take a little longer to sell or necessitate a drop in price, but always err on the side of caution and be honest on the TA6 form.