With the news that property transactions rocketed by “over 48% in February 2021”, buyers should be aware of their rights should problems arise with the property once completion has taken place. What can you do if you’ve become a victim of misrepresentation during a property transaction?
“Caveat Emptor” aka Buyer Beware
The basic position when you purchase a property is “buyer beware” which means that you, as a buyer, are responsible to make all the necessary checks and enquiries on the property before you buy it.
A seller’s duty is to answer all enquiries in relation to the property honestly and accurately.
Standard enquiries are made by using the ‘sellers property information form’. You can ask further specific enquiries via your solicitor if necessary, and these further queries must also be answered honestly and accurately.
Buyers should therefore rely upon their own surveyor reports to determine any issues with the property and should consider asking specific questions following the results of any survey.
An inaccurate or untrue statement during the conveyancing process may entitle a buyer to claim for misrepresentation. Even if an incorrect statement was made innocently, a buyer can pursue a seller if it misrepresented the true position.
If a buyer can prove that they relied on the inaccurate statement to purchase the house and that they would not have entered into the contract had the inaccurate statement not have been made; and as a result they have suffered loss, then a claim can be made.
Common examples of misrepresentation include:
- Not disclosing neighbour disputes and ongoing neighbour issues
- Structural issues
- Damp problems
- Issues surrounding tenants and vacant possession
- Inaccurate information regarding boundaries
What Can Be Done to Remedy Misrepresentation?
If a seller has misrepresented something during the conveyancing process that has caused the buyer loss as a result, the court may order that the contract be rescinded, forcing the seller to take back the property and reverse the transaction. More commonly, however, the court is likely to order that the seller pays the buyer damages for any loss suffered.
Damages are calculated by assessing the cost of putting the buyer into the position they were in before the misrepresentation took place and expert evidence is usually required.
If you have recently purchased a property and require more advice on misrepresentation claims, please contact Kathryn Clare, Dispute Resolution Associate, on 01244 305955 or email [email protected], for further assistance.