Defects And Disputes - Should I Disclose Them?
30 Nov 2015
When selling your home it is natural to want to show its best aspects to prospective buyers, whilst minimising anything that might put them off. However, not only is the law clear on disclosure, but an honest approach can help to secure a sale and reduce the chances of renegotiation, or even an expensive lawsuit.
Firstly, there is a distinction between a defect and a remedial repair. If for example you fill a crack with filler prior to redecoration, this would be regarded as remedial under general maintenance and need not be disclosed, unless you suspect that the crack is likely to reappear. If there is anything more serious that you have not permanently fixed, then anticipate the buyer’s queries and have a prepared estimate from at least three reputable tradesmen.
In terms of disputes with neighbours or any other issues affecting the property, you should certainly disclose these. For example, you could be close to exchange on your sale and next purchase, when the buyer hears from a neighbour that there was a dispute over a right of way close by, even though it may not have been used for years. A notorious court case cost the seller of a £124,000 property £67,500 in damages long after completion of the sale, for not disclosing an apparently resolved dispute over access. (McMeekin-v-Long).
If you disclose any potential difficulty you are also seen by the buyer to be a person of integrity, and there can be no legitimate grounds for further negotiation or withdrawal.
So the rule of thumb is to be totally up-front if you want a worry-free sale. This applies when you first show the property to your estate agent, when communicating with buyers, and when answering the solicitor’s pre-contract information form.