When a married couple became owners of a £750,000 5-bedroomed property in Newcastle on Tyne, they couldn't have predicted the floods that followed. Far from a just a puddle, the family were left to deal with the implications, wading through paper work to find one particular box on the property information form that the sellers should not have ticked. And the buyers found Facebook photos to prove it, for the press and all to see.
The box of course was under the heading “flooding”. This section asked the seller if any part of the property, meaning the building and surrounding land, had ever been flooded. The sellers ticked “no”, however their social media showed otherwise. According to a Facebook post in July 2012, the garden had been engulfed in water, much like the situation the buyers claim to have experienced repeatedly since purchasing the property in 2014.
This scenario highlights the importance of accurately filling out property documents, as the buyers are now requesting that the seller refunds them for the full amount paid for the property, along with mortgage repayments and damages for “physical inconvenience and mental distress”.
The misfortune of the buyers, and the measures that follow, demonstrate how the use of Property Information Forms have evolved. Previously, such forms were used for the seller to volunteer information that could affect the value of the property, with a very sales-based function. More recently, the form has presented a legal bearing on the transaction, as demonstrated by the High Court writ now issued by the buyer’s solicitors.
This case highlights the potential consequences of providing misleading information in a property sale. It also goes to show the importance of being vigilant to ensure the property is up to your standards. This situation could have been avoided had the Property Information Form, otherwise known as a TA6, been filled in correctly.
What I always emphasise to buyers is to ask the right questions, and to get things in writing. This is a good way to safe guard yourself in situations, and is a clear indicator of whether you might have been misinformed.
Documents relating to sale such as Property Information Forms can help bring confidence to a potential buyer, but they also carry weight in legal proceedings. If you’re feeling misled about a property purchase, seeking clear legal advice would be the first step in setting it right. The same goes for any confusion you might have whilst filling out information relating to a sale. This story goes to show how something as simple as ticking the wrong box can quickly become complicated, and costly.
If you’re interested in any of the topics raised, or have a matter you wish to discuss, Don Peel has over 15 years of property litigation experience and heads our expert Dispute Resolution team. You can contact Don on 0115 947 1519, or email on firstname.lastname@example.org