Undisclosed issues which can lead to misrepresentation claims
Disputes with neighbours are extremely common, they can arise in the instance of fairly minor issues but sometimes they can be more significant. In some instances the disputes lead to physical violence and the police being called. Homeowners often want to move because of their neighbours. It is always best, if possible for the dispute to be avoided and if that is not possible resolved and for there to be written evidence of how it was resolved before the sale.
These issues may then transfer to the new owner of the property and cause distress when they should be enjoying their new home. The seller is asked in section 2 of the seller’s property information form to outline ongoing disputes, historic disputes and potential issues of dispute for the future. If details are omitted or misleading the seller may need face a claim for misrepresentation and a claim for damages to compensate the buyer, for example for loss in value of the property. However, the level of this compensation will depend on multitude of factors and the unique circumstances.
Nearly a third of people living in the UK encounter some sort of noise issues with their neighbours. Sometimes property sellers arrange viewings to take place at a time when they know noise does not occur or is less likely to occur and this can be misleading for the potential buyer. If noise has been an issue to the person selling the property it must be disclosed on the seller's property information form.
Noise disturbance can take many forms from arguments, noisy pets, loud children, loud music, parties, carrying out DIY or gardening at inappropriate times to name a few. However, what one person considers unbearable another may consider tolerable. For instance, if the buyer themselves has a lively family or pets the noise from neighbours may not have the same level of irritation. However, this is subjective so noise disputes need to be outlined specifically by the seller, including details of type and frequency of noise.
If the seller has considered the disturbance so distressing that they have notified the police or the local authority they need to disclose this including the date it was reported and if a resolution was achieved or if it remains an ongoing issue.
If noise has been an issue the seller should disclose it and make clear that they have reduced the price accordingly to reflect this. Advice should have been sought about how much to reduce the price by.
If noise disruption has not been disclosed and the price has not been reduced and you are encountering distress you may be able to claim misrepresentation compensation from the buyer.
Annually around 5 million properties are at risk of river and surface water flooding. The impact of a flooding can be devastating. Some property sellers are so keen to sell their home that they do not disclose historic flooding on the seller’s property information form.
Sellers need to be open and honest and not mislead the purchaser about historic flooding so a buyer can ascertain the likelihood of reoccurrence. This allows the buyer to make an informed choice before proceeding with the risk considered in the purchase price.
Some flooding may be picked up on the environmental searches, for example if the property is located in a flood risk area, but not all of it as there are different types of flooding including: sewer, surface, ground, river and coastal. Flooding should be declared if it has occurred in any part of the property including the garden, any land and outbuildings.
In addition to not specifying if flooding has occurred, a seller who specifies that flooding has occurred must not mis-lead or exaggerate regarding the preventative steps that have been taken. For instance, disclosing soakaways in the garden where they do not exist, exaggerating flood defences and flood proofing as well as underplaying the instances of how frequently flooding has occurred.
If you have purchased a property and experienced flooding that causes damage or has an impact on the value of your property, you may have a claim for misrepresentation against the seller. If the flooding also occurred prior to your purchase and you have evidence of such, but the seller did not inform you of this in the seller’s property information form then you may be able to recover your losses from the seller.
Appoint a solicitor to review the circumstances and take the dispute up with the seller if appropriate. We have represented clients whose homes and commercial premises have flooded and have successfully demonstrated that the correct disclosures had not been made to the purchaser.
If you think you may have a claim for property misrepresentation as a result of an undisclosed neighbour/noise dispute or non-disclosed flooding and wish to discuss it with us, call our specialist team on 0203 816 9314 or complete our online enquiry form and we will contact you directly.