At the start of 2017 we have been sent a number of queries from individuals who have property issues. Here our Welsh conveyancing team answer one of these frequently asked questions:
Q: My partner and I recently purchased our first home. Since moving in we have ‘discovered’ a few problems with the house, which were not previously disclosed, and would like to know if we can claim the costs of putting them right from the previous owner?
A: It is possible to seek to reclaim costs to put right defects that were not disclosed when purchasing a property, but it can be a complex and sometimes expensive process that is subject to interpretation of law.
Prevention is the Best Protection
Buying a house is one of the largest investments you will ever make in your life. Because of this, we always recommend that our buyers do not just rely on the valuation undertaken by the mortgage provider, but they pay to have their own surveys to identify any potential issues before they complete the purchase.
From a legal perspective, when purchasing a property, the ‘caveat emptor’ principle is applicable. Essentially it is a case of ‘buyer beware’ and it is the responsibility of the purchaser to make sure there aren’t any problems regarding the house.
As a purchaser you need to ask any questions you have regarding the property and it is the legal duty of the seller to answer truthfully and not provide misleading or inaccurate information.
What Does the Law State?
Under the Property Mis-Descriptions Act 1991, sellers and their agents did not necessarily need to disclose information to you unless they are specifically asked.
However, new legislation has come into effect via the Unfair Trading Regulations that now requires the other parties, i.e. sellers and their agents, to disclose any relevant information that could impact on the decision to purchase the property.
Whilst the law has changed to provide more protection for home buyers, it still can be difficult to prove and enforce. We recommend you always seek legal advice should you consider your seller to have misled you.
We will always recommend that you contact independent experts to undertake surveys of the property you are purchasing. There are a number of different surveys you can choose, to find out more about each of them and what they will identify, please click here.
Purchasing independent surveys will also help you to identify any deliberate attempts by the seller to conceal defects and strengthen your claim should the need arise. You will also be entitled to make a claim against the surveyor if they fail to identify a defect present when undertaking the survey.
Have Further Conveyancing Questions?
If you have further questions regarding the conveyancing process or your rights once a transaction has been completed, browse through our other FAQs or contact our friendly team of Cardiff conveyancing solicitors by calling 0808 178 2773.