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

Marylebone area guide: restaurants, high street, shops and schools

Your guide to things to do in Marylebone, including the best shops, cafes, restaurants and schools. PLUS our guide to property in NW1 and W1

Open House: Take a look inside the latest Hampstead Heath homes on the market

Both houses feature a cinema room and slim line framed windows, offering enviable views of the landscaped gardens

Transform your outside space by repointing your garden path

Richard Burr reveals how in five simple steps

Top ten things renters need to know

From losing your deposit to falling foul of unprofessional landlords, make your renting experience as easy as possible by reading these top tips

Revealed: How much it costs to buy a property in Camden per square metre

Property buyers are spending more than £12,000 for just a square metre in the north London borough, figures show

Sitting pretty: Everything you need to know before choosing a new sofa

Buying a new settee can be stressful. Three experts share their top tips and trends to plump for.

Hampstead new luxury penthouses already 50% sold to mostly local buyers

71 per cent of the two to five bedroom apartments have sold to families nearby, underlining an appetite for family-sized luxury new-builds in the area

Property of the week: Guildens

A rare opportunity to purchase an unmodernised house which has been in the same ownership for nearly 60 years

Need a new front door? Here’s how to revamp your old one and save money

Refreshing your home’s entrance is a big job. Richard Burr reveals his 5 top tips for a perfect paint job

9 autumn must-buys to cosy up your home

Whether you’re styling up a snug room, or just want to something comfy to curl up in now the nights have started to draw in, now is the perfect time to ‘fall’ into something luxuriously soft and snuggly. Or, you could tap into an Alpine theme and add a touch of cosy-cabin chic.

Hampstead area guide: shops, theatre, schools and the Heath

Your guide to things to do in Hampstead, including the best shops, cafes, restaurants and schools. PLUS our guide to property in NW3

The Conservative and Labour housing policies explained

The prime minister proposed the build of 25,000 extra social homes in two years, while Corbyn announced plans to implement a cap on rent increases

Five things buy-to-let landlords need to know going into 2018

From house price and rental yield statistics to minimising voids, here’s everything you need to know

The top six things that are likely to devalue your home, according to new research

Swimming pools and solar panels are among the most undesirable property features, new research has found

North London developers prepare to unveil luxury collection in Fortis Green

The Fortis Collection has used a number of locally sourced materials and prides itself on being “incredibly energy efficient”

Choose the right tools for the great autumn tidy-up

As you begin to rake leaves, trim shrubs and shape trees in the garden in autumn, we look at essential tools to help you get the job done quickly

For sale in Tufnell Park: top three

On the market now, we’ve found apartments with green private gardens and a luxurious two bedroom new build in Tufnell Park

New eye tracking technology reveals what buyers really look at when viewing a property

Research found that only four per cent of eye movement time is dedicated to considering property layout, repairs or structural features

British-Canadian designer Patrick Cox has sold his Little Venice pad for £2.75m, before moving to Ibiza

Fashion designer Patrick Cox has found a buyer for his 1,908 sq.ft (177 sq.m) Victorian villa in Little Venice, as he prepares to move to Ibiza and start on another ‘grand designs’ style property project

Tufnell Park area guide: schools, restaurants, station and The Dome

Your guide for things to do in Tufnell Park, including the best shops, cafes, restaurants and schools.

What’s the best conifer for you?

Conifers used to be seen as dull, boring and way too tall - think Leylandii and you get my drift - but so many new varieties are now on the market that you can add colour, architecture and form to your garden when everything else has entered winter dormancy.

What to consider before buying your first property

The help available - and pitfalls to avoid - for first-time buyers

Home of the Week: Striking five storey townhouse in Hampstead Village

Denning Road, Hampstead Village, NW3

Don’t miss the last weekend of London Design Festival

The annual celebration of all things design has taken the capital by storm this September. Make sure not to miss the last weekend before the festival closes its doors on Sunday.

Top tips for first-time landlords

We discuss climbing the buy-to-rent property ladder with first-time landlords and local industry experts.

Camden mews property transformed into couple’s forever home

A 1960’s Camden property has been redesigned using a number of locally sourced materials

For sale in St John’s Wood: top three

On the market now, we’ve found apartments with great natural light and spacious entertainemnt areas in St John’s Wood

Camden homes among hardest hit as London asking prices record biggest fall of the decade

Asking prices for homes in Camden have fallen an average of seven per cent in past month.

St John’s Wood area guide: Beautiful homes and top shops, cafes, restaurants and schools

Your guide to all the things to do in St John’s Wood, including the best shops, cafes, restaurants and schools.

The top gardening books to give you ideas and inspiration as autumn sets in

As the weather cools down, you can warm up indoors with a crop of new gardening books to inspire you.

Newsletter Sign Up

Sign up to the following newsletters:

Sign up to receive our regular email newsletter

2017 © Archant Community Media Ltd

Terms and conditions | Cookie policy | Jobs at Archant