What happens when you purchase a house only to find out after completion that the seller has left broken appliances, or there is a leaking pipe?

The seller does not guarantee that any appliances sold with the property are in good working order, and does not guarantee that no works of repair are required to the property. This means that the seller gives no automatic warranty or guarantee in respect of the condition of the property or the title to the property. The seller is, however, under a duty to answer any enquiries honestly and to the best of the seller’s knowledge.

On any purchase, the onus is on a buyer to discover any defects in the property. It is therefore very important that a survey is carried out by a professional. A qualified surveyor will inspect the property and detect any potential problems, note any recommended repair works and bring to your attention the actual state and condition of a property. For a few hundred pounds, it is highly advisable to have a survey carried out. The survey report then gives a buyer a better understanding of the condition of the property. This can then help with obtaining quotes for any remedial work, or even deter them completely from proceeding in their proposed purchase if the costs of carrying out remedial works are too high or the works are too extensive.

A buyer should always visit the property before exchange of contracts, and raise any particular queries they have with their solicitor who, in turn, raises these with the seller’s solicitors. If there is a long delay between exchange of contracts and completion, it is worth visiting the property again.

A buyer can sue a seller under the purchase contract if the seller has provided any misleading information, however, this is costly and may outweigh the costs of remedying the fault or defect for example.

The “Caveat Emptor” rule – Buyer Beware rule applies to most property transactions and with the help of a survey, searches, inspections and enquiries these will assist buyers to obtain a full picture of the state and condition of the property they are purchasing.

For all property and conveyancing matters, please get in touch with one of our experienced property lawyers at either our Lancaster or Kirkby Lonsdale office.

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