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 fail to 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 they were aware of any problems or issues. This due diligence was of particular importance due to the principle of ‘caveat emptor’, or 'buyer beware'.
Caveat Emptor means that the seller is not legally required to disclose known or unknown defects in the property and it is up to the Buyer to investigate the home they intend to buy.
Since 2013 however, selling a property falls 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 to proceed with the purchase. If the seller omits anything of importance (that they were aware of) they could face prosecution - whether the buyer asked about the issue or not.
The Property Information Form (TA6) form is sent to the seller’s solicitor by the buyer’s solicitor. The form 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 PDF version of this report if you want to print it.
What issues are considered important?
It is critical that you are honest. However uncomfortable you may feel about disclosing an issue, it is better to be honest upfront than to face legal action down the line. The new owner could commence legal action months or even years after your sale completes.
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 through due to bad survey results on the property.
- Your neighbourhood having high levels of crime.
- A violent death that occurred at the property.
If in doubt, ask your solicitor what you need to inform your buyer about.
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
Issues 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 can make a property harder to sell. Serious issues will be revealed in the conveyancing process and would be prudent to reflect such issues in the asking price.
There are also steps you can take 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 or woodworm, for example, produce any paperwork that proves the issue has been dealt with. If your property was flooded, provide evidence of any remedial measures.
If disputes with neighbours are 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. You may have a home that will take longer to sell or an issue that could prompt a post-survey renegotiation - but err on the side of caution and be honest on the TA6 form.
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