There’s a lot of paperwork involved in selling a home, one important piece is the property information form. This is a legally binding document that tells the buyer about a home in detail. If the property isn’t as described on the form they can seek compensation from the seller.
What’s in a property information form?
If you’re selling a home you’ll be asked by the buyer’s conveyancer – the legal professional helping them with the transaction – to fill in a TA6 form, or TA7 for leaseholders. You’ll also fill in a TA10 form which details the fixtures and fittings that will be staying in the home. You do not have to fill in these forms, but the buyer’s conveyancer is likely to insist you do and the buyer may walk away if you don’t.
Alongside relatively straightforward information such as where the stopcock is and who supplies a home’s energy, the TA6 form asks about issues that could have an impact on the next owner, such as:
- Disputes with neighbours.
- Planning notices of nearby development.
- Information about where boundaries are and who is responsible for them.
- Building work carried out on the property including building regulations approval and planning permission.
- Instances of flooding, subsidence and Japanese knotweed (an invasive plant that can grow through masonry) and any work carried out to remedy these issues.
- Details about access to the property, shared land and parking arrangements.
The list is long. But that doesn’t mean buyers should shy away from asking anything they are concerned about that isn’t included.
Filling out the form
As with all legal documents honesty is the best policy. You should answer all the questions as fully as possible. Not answering will set alarms bells ringing, as will answering questions vaguely.
Even if work was carried out before you moved in, perhaps because of subsidence, it should be declared. Paper trails from previous sales and council searches often bring issues to light and there are ways around them such as indemnity insurance. The sooner any issues come up the sooner they can be addressed, causing less delays and reducing the chances the sale will fall through altogether.
Lying on the form is dangerous. The buyer has six years from the date they bought the property to make a claim against you, which is plenty of time to discover an undeclared defect or a nuisance neighbour. This could lead to you being taken to court. If you’re not sure how to answer a question, run it past your conveyancer. You can also look back at the form you were given when you bought the property.
It’s worth remembering you can also be sued if you conceal a problem, such as by plastering over a large crack or lie to buyers in other communications with them.
Consequences of misrepresentation
Misleading a buyer, whether intentional or not, could be a breach of the Misrepresentation Act. This means the seller can pursue you for compensation.
The onus is on the seller to prove they did not mislead the buyer. If they can’t the most likely outcome is that damages will be paid to the buyer. This is often the difference between the amount they paid for a property and the amount it would have been worth had they known about the issue.
If you consider properties with Japanese knotweed are devalued by around 10% this could lead to some eye watering sums.
Another option, which is much rarer because of the impact on all those involved, is for the contract to be unwound completely. This means going back to the point before contracts were exchanged. Essentially the seller buys their home back, while also covering the buyer’s expenses, legal costs and mortgage interest.
Protecting yourself with a survey
One way a buyer can give themselves more peace of mind is to hire a chartered surveyor to carry out a survey.
These are different from the valuation a mortgage provider will carry out on a home, which assesses whether a home is worth what the provider is lending for it.
Surveys assess the condition of a home. They range from a basic condition report which gives an overview of the state of a home, right the way up to a full structural survey which details defects and potential problems, as well as suggesting repairs.
They should pick up major problems that may have been left out of the property information form. What’s more if a surveyor misses anything you can make a complaint and could be able to claim compensation.
Working with us
Selling a house can be a stressful and daunting experience for many partly because of all the paperwork involved, especially if you need to do it in a short space of time.
We’ve been buying houses of all shapes, sizes and values across the UK for more than 30 years. Our service is designed to be as easy to use and cost effective as possible, not to mention fast. We organise and pay for valuations and solicitors, and once we’ve agreed on a final price we won’t go back on it. Get in touch if you’d like to find out more.