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Mervia56

Post completion property issue - is the vendor liable?

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I recently moved house and have noted an issue in the new property that I feel should have been disclosed to me during the conveyancing process and as such puts a liability on the vendor to make good – I’d appreciate some help and advice on my position here if possible.

 

 

During the conveyancing process I opted for a standard valuation as I felt the property was ok and was more or less aware of the things that needed doing. There wasn’t anything I noted that required my attention.

 

 

The part of the property in which I have identified the issue is the garage which is adjoined to the house by way of a ground and first floor extension (the hallway is extended at ground level to almost mid garage and a first floor bedroom is extended to the same point across the roof – no internal access). The issue is that there is penetrating damp from an adjoining property.

 

 

 

When I viewed the property (twice) the garage had things in it which would have prevented me seeing any damp spots. The garage and property were cleared by the vendor before completion.

 

 

 

During the conveyancing I raised an inquiry via my solicitor asking “is there any damp in the property?”. The response which was received from the vendor solicitor on their headed paper was “the property does not suffer with damp”. Clearly is does, and it appears to have existed for a while.

 

 

My question here is what is my position and how can I progress this matter to get the vendor address the issue. Had they not stated what they did, I feel I would not be able to challenge this point but as they categorically stated there is no damp I feel they are liable.

 

 

At this moment in time I have written a letter to the vendor advising her of the issue and my position. I did state that I hoped we could open a dialogue to come to an amicable resolution and asked for the thoughts and comments on the matter. I did propose that they settle any cost for resolving the damp too.

 

 

Any help and advices would be greatly appreciated

 

Merv

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Speak to your solicitor who acted for you in the conveyance.

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By standard valuation I take it you mean your own mortgage companies valuation?

 

So you didnt bother with a proper survey and now youve come unstuck and want to blaim seller?

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Check caveat emptor - ie buyer beware. A seller only has a duty to disclose information that you could not reasonably find out about. Not their fault you didn't undertake a survey, that what they are for.

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I would think that since you were told in writing that the property does not suffer from damp, then you might be able to claim against the seller for misrepresentation. The devil is in the detail with these things though so I would speak to the solicitor who acted for you.


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As the garage was full of stuff the seller at the time of completing the form was not aware of the damp; so would have completed the form truthly.


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As the garage was full of stuff the seller at the time of completing the form was not aware of the damp; so would have completed the form truthly.

I don't think that matters. The only requirement to sue someone for misrepresentation is that they made a false statement of fact which you relied on when entering into a contract with them. You can still sue someone for misrepresentation even if they honestly believed the statement was true, because it was their responsibility to check whether or not there is damp before making the assurance.

 

 

That is why people normally say on these firms something like "no damp, to the best of the seller's knowledge" rather than just "no damp".


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The problem here is two fold. Firstly, if you didn't notice the damp then the owner might not have noticed before exchange because of furniture etc. The seller doesn't have a duty to undertake surveys. Secondly, if you sued for misstep, which could be very costly, the judge would want to know why you didn't undertake a proper survey.

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In hindsight yes I should have taken a full survey, but at the time of viewing I felt comfortable that the property was sound. The damp isn't major and it can be treated so it's not a 'terminal problem' but if it had been picked up I would have insisted on it being rectified prior to completion.

 

I fully understand that the decision to buy the property in it's current state (sold as seen) was mine but I did so on the basis of the information provided to me. I asked a direct question and received a direct response, not an ambiguous one or one that left me any doubt as to the situation. If the seller had stated "unknown" or "cannot say" then I would have had to make a choice on how to proceed.

 

The conveyancing solicitor have advised this is not somethign they can help with as completion has occurred and is seen as 'after the event', they advised to seek advice on litigation....so here I am :-)

 

I think I do have a case, but no sure how best to approach it. Obviously I don't want to foot a large legal bill and nor proceed unless my claim is sound and likely to succeed. Also, as I feel this should have been disclosed I don't want to feel like I've been 'done over' on this one.

 

I did write to the vendor and the address given to me by the conveyancing solicitor which was on the contract asking them politely to enter in to a dialogue with me on this matter but they have not responded, so I can assume they will not want to sort things out amicably or directly.

 

Should I go to a solicitor on this or can I make a claim myself - also likely costs involved would be appreciated (the cost of works should be less than £1k including all materials etc by a professional) ?

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As the problem isn't major I personally wouldn't bother. Don't forget you'd have to pay for an expert report and they could argue that as it wasn't a major problem they didn't notice so they answered honestly. A seller isn't liable for every little problem (otherwise nobody would sell). If you lose you would have to pay their solicitors bill and costs.

 

 

 

In hindsight yes I should have taken a full survey, but at the time of viewing I felt comfortable that the property was sound. The damp isn't major and it can be treated so it's not a 'terminal problem' but if it had been picked up I would have insisted on it being rectified prior to completion.

 

I fully understand that the decision to buy the property in it's current state (sold as seen) was mine but I did so on the basis of the information provided to me. I asked a direct question and received a direct response, not an ambiguous one or one that left me any doubt as to the situation. If the seller had stated "unknown" or "cannot say" then I would have had to make a choice on how to proceed.

 

The conveyancing solicitor have advised this is not somethign they can help with as completion has occurred and is seen as 'after the event', they advised to seek advice on litigation....so here I am :-)

 

I think I do have a case, but no sure how best to approach it. Obviously I don't want to foot a large legal bill and nor proceed unless my claim is sound and likely to succeed. Also, as I feel this should have been disclosed I don't want to feel like I've been 'done over' on this one.

 

I did write to the vendor and the address given to me by the conveyancing solicitor which was on the contract asking them politely to enter in to a dialogue with me on this matter but they have not responded, so I can assume they will not want to sort things out amicably or directly.

 

Should I go to a solicitor on this or can I make a claim myself - also likely costs involved would be appreciated (the cost of works should be less than £1k including all materials etc by a professional) ?

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As the amount is less than 1k it won't be economic to use a solicitor. To be honest I'm not sure its worth it.

 

I feel you have a reasonable claim. If the damp was obvious they must have known or at least it was their responsibility to check before assuring you that there is no damp. Although I can also see a judge thinking that the problem is very minor.


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