What should I declare when selling my home?
When the time comes to sell your home or investment property, it’s natural to want to highlight the positives while brushing over the more problematic elements. However, for the past six years, any sale and accompanying description of a property has been governed by Consumer Protection Against Unfair Trading Rules, or the CPR.
This means any seller of a property must share all information about it that is relevant to a potential buyer; so, good and bad details. That should ensure a buyer has all the facts they need to make their decision. If a seller fails to share some important information that is later uncovered in a survey or through discussion, they could face prosecution as withholding that information is considered a criminal offence.
What do I have to declare when selling a house?
Once you’ve selected your UK-based estate agent to sell your property, there will be a number of forms to fill out. In addition to discussions about why you’re selling and important points about your property, one of those forms will likely include questions about its structural state.
Details you should declare to the estate agent include:
- Any structural changes to the property,
- Disputes over party walls and boundaries,
- The presence of Japanese knotweed,
- If your neighbours have an ASBO,
- Where your property is on a flight path,
- If there has been a violent death,
- If crime levels are high, this should also be noted.
If you’re in doubt about what you have to disclose when selling a house, ask your estate agent or the conveyancer you plan to use. They can guide you as to which details you do have to share and what can be glossed over.
The problem of subsidence
With regards to the structural details of the property you’re selling, including any extensions, planning permission applications and history of subsidence, it’s advisable to err on the side of giving as much information as you can. That includes if your property has been affected by subsidence.
While subsidence isn’t something potential home-buyers want to hear, if they know it has been correctly rectified and the paperwork is in order, they will have peace of mind about the property and likely about you, as a seller too.
Unfortunately, there is no limit on how long you have to declare subsidence. If your property has been affected by subsidence at any point in the past, particularly if an insurance claim on that basis has been made about it, then you do have to declare it to the estate agent and the buyer.
If you don’t the buyer will still probably hear about it through a number of different sources:
- Through the searches undertaken by the buyer’s solicitor.
- Some physical evidence could be noticed by the surveyor.
- When the buyer arranges insurance, it could arise during that discussion as it will be available on a central insurance database.
In short, when it comes to what you have to declare when selling a house in the UK, if it’s structural, you should always disclose it. That way, you’ve had a chance to show the relevant works have been carried out and the property is safe and sound to live in. It will also mean the buyers aren’t shocked by certain details when they do come up, further down the line.
Filling in a TA6 form
A TA6 form is a separate, legal document that your solicitor or conveyancer will require you fill out when you sell your property. It’s around 15 pages long and has a variety of questions relating to your property.
If you fail to disclose something on the form that is later picked up in a survey, or causes a problem for your buyer, you could face legal action. In 2017, the TA6 form was revised, to help limit the number of additional enquiries or second round of questions between solicitors.
Among the questions added was one on Japanese Knotweed, reflecting the importance of the presence of this destructive plant across the UK. To ensure you answer all the TA6 form questions properly, the Law Society has a section of explanatory notes to help you understand why the questions are being asked.
Remember, this is a legal document which means your answers must be clear and honest. If you give vague answers on the form which are open to interpretation and are later relevant in the results of a survey, you could face legal action.
Honesty is the best policy
No one wants to sabotage their chances of selling a property by sharing every negative detail about it. However, when it comes to what you have to disclose when selling a house, put yourself in your potential buyers' shoes.
Yes, some details could put you off from even viewing a property. However, if you love lots of things about a potential new home and are given all the facts and information about the good and bad points about it, a positive outcome is a possibility. You’re more likely to arrange a viewing, find out about the potential costs involved in rectifying an issue now or in the future and make a realistic decision on whether or not you should buy that property.
An added incentive to being upfront about everything to do with your property is the danger of being sued for misrepresentation. Provided you’ve been honest and have the documents to prove it, you should be safe from legal action and your property sale should proceed without any major problems.
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