Logo

When selling my house, am I legally obliged to disclose any information that may affect a potential buyer’s decision?

PUBLISHED: 13:15 27 July 2015 | UPDATED: 13:33 23 January 2017

Honesty is the best policy when selling a house

Honesty is the best policy when selling a house

Archant

Our property expert Simon Gerrard answers your property-related questions.

Yes they are. They should also be sure their estate agent is adhering to this and other regulations that could leave the seller open to prosecution if they don’t.

It was generally believed that the sale or purchase of a property is a transaction covered by “Caveat Emptor – let the buyer beware.” When it’s up to the buyer to ask the questions and the seller or their agent to give honest answers.

However, this is no longer the case. Since 2013 with the repeal of the Property Misdescriptions Act the sale and advertising of property has come under the 2008 Consumer Protection Against Unfair Trading Regulations (CPR’s).

In simple terms, the CPR’s require a seller to inform their estate agent – and any potential buyer - of material information that may affect an average consumer’s transactional decision, not only to buy a property but even “an omission that may affect a potential buyer’s decision to view a property”. No longer can you choose what to tell your agent or buyer.

Before they market a property, a reputable agent should ask you to fill in a Property Information Questionnaire where you can put down any relevant information. This will include issues you may have with your boundaries or other disputes with neighbours; notices of any developments nearby; whether the correct approvals have been obtained for building works such as building regulations or the freeholders consent for alterations such as a loft conversion; any significant occurrences at the property, such as a murder or a suicide; and details of any major defects you are aware of.

Some may consider telling a white lie or being vague with their answers, but this can come back to bite you, even after you have moved out. For instance you may say there are no problems with a neighbour when in reality there is an ongoing boundary dispute. This is likely to come up in the conveyance process, but if the lie doesn’t come to light until the new buyers have moved in, the buyers can still come after you.

There may have been major works carried out on the property – such as underpinning – before you bought it. On the form you may say no works have been done while you have owned the property. This sort of half-truth could be considered a misrepresentation.

Ultimately this may land you in the dock answering criminal proceedings with the potential of hefty fines and in the worst case imprisonment.

Estate Agents are duty bound to reveal any material information they know – or ought to know - about a property. For instance if a previous sale has fallen through because of defects that came up on the survey, this must be disclosed.

The National Trading Standards Estate Agency Team have recently released updated guidance that all estate agents should be working to. Agents can’t make misleading statements or fail to mention something that may put off ‘an average consumer’ so if you live next door to a school (which for some buyers might be a bonus) or a power station this must be mentioned, and any photos of the property can’t be taken in such a way as to conceal them.

Don’t be encouraged to keep potential problems quiet, as not only could you be breaking the law, nearly all the information that should be declared is almost certain to come up during the conveyance process. Hidden ‘faults or disputes’ which suddenly appear could lead a buyer to withdraw from the sale, costing both sides a lot of time and money.

A good, reputable agent will know how to deal with this sort of information and how to pass it on to a potential viewer or buyer at the outset in a sensitive and positive way.

It is a legal requirement under The Energy Performance of Buildings Regulations 2012 to ensure that a valid and up-to-date EPC is available when a property is put up for sale or to let. An existing EPC report which has been carried out within the last 10years will suffice, so long as no material works that may affect the EPC rating have been carried out. Be wary of an agent who will allow you to go to market without first obtaining or at the very least commissioning an EPC report as they, and you, will be breaking the law.

Do you have a question for Simon Gerrard? Email ham&high.property@archant.co.uk or tweet @hamhigh_property

Related articles

Property search


e.g. Oxford or NW3
Powered by Zoopla

Other Hampstead and Highgate property news

Inside the St John’s Wood home of interior designer, Brian Woulfe

This elegant apartment in St John’s Wood has been carefully curated by interior designer and former concert pianist, Brian Woulfe

House price gap between London and regional cities set to narrow over next two years

The property price gap between London and other cities around the UK is predicted to narrow in the next two years according to figures published by Hometrack

Tom Dixon kicks off series of architecture and design events in Kings Cross

Architecture and design discussion group New London Architecture will be hosting a series of dinners at Spiritland in Kings Cross this summer, starting with an event featuring renowned furniture, lighting and home accessory designer Tom Dixon, on Thursday, July 26.

‘The means of production are changing’ - designer Tom Dixon looks to the future

Tom Dixon, designer of iconic modernist furniture and lighting, has moved his business to a new Kings Cross HQ. Here he talks about what he learned working in the music industry, moving to the epicentre of London’s future industries and finding new creative ‘obsessions’.

New Middle Eastern antiques department opens at Alfies in Lisson Grove

One of London’s last remaining indoor antique markets, Alfies, on Church Street, has launched a dedicated Middle Eastern art, antiques and design department, spanning two floors and more than 4,000 square feet.

Eight ways to get your kids into the garden this summer

As the school holidays beckon, designer Ann-Marie Powell

shares top tips with Hannah Stephen for getting youngsters outdoors

Looking after your lawn: three essential tools

Love your lawn? So, get the right tools to help you maintain it in summer. Hannah Stephenson selects three essentials to make the job easier.

David Walliams is selling Noel Gallagher’s former Belsize Park home

Britain’s Got Talent judge and author David Walliams is selling his Hampstead home for 5.35million with Marcus Parfitt.

Column: Simon Gerrard on choosing the right area to live in

Good fences make good neighbours goes the saying, but fellow residents can have an impact on the enjoyment of your home. North London estate agent Simon Gerrard shares his tips for finding the perfect location.

Seven tips for creating a wellbeing boosting garden

Matt Keightley, the designer behind the Feel Good Garden at this year’s RHS Chelsea Flower Show, reveals how to make your own outdoor space more soothing. By Hannah Stephenson

Nine ways gardeners can be more waterwise this summer

Want to save your plants and save water? Go easy with the sprinkler and embrace these expert suggestions instead, says Hannah Stephenson

Most Read

Newsletter Sign Up

Sign up to the following newsletters:

Sign up to receive our regular email newsletter

Our Privacy Policy


2018 © Archant Community Media Ltd

Terms and conditions | Cookie policy | Jobs at Archant