Bought a house with undisclosed problems?

Bought a House with Problems Not Disclosed in the UK? Here’s What to Do

After purchasing your home, you might quickly realise it’s not the dream house you were promised. Instead, you’re faced with many undisclosed issues. Before frustration sets in, consider carefully what to do next. Whether it’s hidden damp spots or creaking floorboards revealing more serious structural defects. The seller has a legal obligation to disclose any known issues with the property. Failure to do so can lead to legal action against them. This underscores the seller’s legal responsibility to be transparent about any defects.

1. Gather Concrete Evidence

  • Photograph Defects: Take clear pictures of any problems you encounter.
  • Maintain Logs: Keep detailed records of when and where issues arise.
  • Collect Testimonies: Obtain statements from anyone who can support your claims.

2. Seek Legal Advice

  • If the faults are substantial and you suspect they were known but concealed by the previous owner, it’s time to seek independent legal advice.
  • You will need to provide strong evidence for your claims, making thorough documentation is vital.

3. Check with Estate Agent

  • Review property listings, capture images, and save all relevant correspondence.
  • This information can be instrumental in building your case.
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Your new home is starting to show signs of neglect that weren’t mentioned before. It’s important to look carefully for any hidden problems. What should you do first? Contact the estate agent, share your concerns, and ask if they are part of any government schemes. You have the right to this information.

If the estate agent is unhelpful, remind them that misleading you is not acceptable. Send them any promotional material or messages that were misleading as proof. Estate agents must disclose any known issues, and they can be held responsible if they don’t.

If you think the seller has deceived you, consult a property solicitor as soon as possible. These legal professionals can help you with complex property matters and advice on planning permission. Remember, the seller must disclose any known defects, and not doing so can have serious legal consequences.

If you find issues after completing the purchase, know that you might be able to seek damages or compensation for these oversights.

Understanding Your Legal Rights

When dealing with undisclosed issues, it’s important to know your legal rights. The Misrepresentation Act 1967 protects you in cases of deceptive property transactions. If the seller has intentionally withheld the truth or failed to provide key information, you can seek legal advice and potentially secure compensation. You may also consider a professional negligence claim against the property solicitor, conveyancer, or surveyor if they failed in their duties during the purchase.

Misrepresentations can be fraudulent, negligent, or innocent, but they all mislead you. With the right evidence, the law supports you in pursuing a claim, which can result in monetary refunds or actions against the seller. You can also seek compensation for any undisclosed problems.

Options Before Completion

If you haven’t committed yet, you’re in a strong position. Before exchanging contracts, the advantage is on your side. If a thorough building survey or professional property survey uncovers any problems, you have room to negotiate. You could negotiate for a lower price or insist on repairs before proceeding with the deal. If the seller is uncooperative, walking away might make them reconsider.

At this stage, you control the situation. Insist that the seller covers repair costs or propose an alternative solution that benefits you. It’s about finding a balance and being ready to compromise when necessary. Effective communication is key. Have your property solicitor negotiate on your behalf, and firmly but politely emphasize the importance of transparency. Remind the seller that meeting their obligations is part of being a responsible seller.

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The Importance of the Property Information Form (TA6)

The Seller’s Property Information Form, or TA6 form, is essential for transparency and accuracy in property transactions. This detailed document allows sellers to disclose all relevant information about their home, from structural issues to the energy performance certificate. It contains crucial facts that can help potential buyers avoid unexpected problems after purchasing the property.

For sellers, completing the TA6 form correctly is more than just a procedural step; it is a legally binding requirement. Failing to disclose important details or feigning ignorance about ongoing disputes, such as neighborhood disagreements over boundaries, can have serious legal consequences. Accurate and honest disclosures on this form build trust with buyers, facilitate smooth transactions, and help establish solid property contracts.

Post-Completion Issues and what to do

Imagine you’ve bought your house and are celebrating when you suddenly discover undisclosed problems. Don’t worry, all is not lost. You can raise complaints about any hidden issues within six years from the purchase date, or within three years from when you discover them if the six years have already passed.

If you can prove that the previous owner knew about these hidden problems, you might be able to get compensation. The seller’s failure to disclose known issues can significantly impact your decision to purchase the property. Speak to an experienced property solicitor who can help determine if you have enough evidence of misrepresentation. If you do and win your case, you could receive money to cover repairs or even a full refund—compensating for the unexpected troubles.

Taking Legal Action Against the Seller

In some cases, it may be necessary to take legal action against the seller. This path is not easy but is available to those who have been wronged. If evidence shows that the seller was dishonest in their property information form or during the conveyancing process, you might be able to make a strong misrepresentation claim against them.

Litigation is like playing chess, requiring careful strategy and preparation. It’s essential to enlist a property solicitor experienced in these complex matters. Successfully navigating this challenge could result in receiving damages or even having the contract rescinded, meaning you return the house and get your money back.

Holding Estate Agents Accountable

Estate agents play a big role in selling houses. They’re not just about showing nice properties—they have to give important information too, following rules called the Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations (CPRs). If an estate agent tricks you or hides facts, they can get in trouble.

If you’re upset with an estate agent’s unfair practices, you can complain to The Property Ombudsman Scheme. It’s like reporting a problem to higher authorities in school but can have bigger consequences. This matters because giving wrong information or not telling important facts breaks not only professional rules but also legal rules about how they treat customers.

Professional Negligence Claims

When you’re dealing with issues in a house you’ve bought, the surveyor might also be at fault. Their job is to find any problems before you buy. If they miss big defects or their report seems rushed and careless, you might be able to make a claim against them for professional negligence.

It’s like a doctor missing a fracture on an x-ray—it’s a serious mistake. If you’re in this situation, it’s important to get legal advice quickly. There are ways to finance these claims, like arrangements where you only pay if you win your case, so you won’t lose money if your claim doesn’t succeed. It’s not a good idea to go it alone. Get help from a property solicitor who can guide you through the process of making your claim.

Preventing Problems for Future Buyers

If you’re thinking about buying your dream home, it’s important to avoid future headaches by being proactive. This means getting a detailed checkup for the house from a qualified expert, just like you would for your health.

Instead of just listening to what others say, do your own research carefully. Get reliable legal advice, ask important questions, and remember to be cautious (let the buyer beware). By checking everything thoroughly, you can make a smart decision about buying the house and even negotiate the price down—or if there are too many problems, decide not to buy it at all.

Protecting Yourself as a Seller

If you’re selling your house, it’s vital to avoid legal problems by being completely honest. When filling out the TA6 form, be as accurate as possible, like an accountant during tax season, and mention any structural issues or ongoing maintenance concerns.

By taking these steps, you not only protect yourself from potential lawsuits but also make your property more appealing to buyers. A home without problems stands out like a shiny apple on a teacher’s desk—it grabs attention and can fetch a higher selling price.

Summary

As we wrap up this discussion on undisclosed house problems, let’s remember the main points. Whether you’re a buyer dealing with hidden issues or a seller wanting to avoid legal trouble, knowledge is key. Understand your rights, take precautions, and seek help when needed to deal with property transactions confidently.

So, armed with this information, step forward boldly. Whether you’re seeking compensation or just peace of mind, you now have the tools to handle any property problems. Here’s to hoping your next home is trouble-free, but if not, remember: you’ve got this.

FAQ

What evidence do I need to prove the seller knew about undisclosed problems?

To prove the seller knew about undisclosed problems, you’ll need quotes for previous repairs, written communications acknowledging the problems, statements from witnesses, and visual documentation of defects with a timeline of when they were discovered.

How long do I have to take legal action for undisclosed problems after buying a house?

You have six years from the purchase date to take legal action for undisclosed problems. If the issues are discovered later, you have three more years from when they were found.

Can I back out of a house sale if a survey reveals problems?

Yes, if a survey uncovers significant issues before exchanging contracts, you can withdraw from the deal. You can also use this information to negotiate a lower price or ask the seller to fix the problems.

What should I do if I feel the estate agent has misled me about a property?

If you think an estate agent has misled you, start by complaining to the agency. If that doesn’t work, you can contact The Property Ombudsman Scheme.

What kind of problems should be disclosed in the TA6 Property Information Form?

In the TA6 form, sellers should disclose a wide range of issues, including natural hazards, boundary disputes, planning permission rejections, and any structural defects or legal matters related to the property. It’s important to be honest and accurate when filling out this form.

 

If all else fails, there’s always the option to sell to professional property buyers, such as Speed Property Buyers. These companies specialise in purchasing so-called problem properties quickly, often within weeks or even days. This can provide a quick resolution if you’re dealing with significant undisclosed issues or simply need to move on from a troublesome property. Selling to professional property buyers can offer peace of mind and financial relief, allowing you to bypass the lengthy and often stressful process of traditional property sales.