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What Do You Legally Have to Disclose When Selling a House

Adele MacGregor

Written by

21st Jul 2022 (Last updated on 18th Nov 2022) 4 minute read

When you sell a property, there are aspects of the property you legally need tomake your buyer aware of. These are factors that would impact the buyer’s decision to continue with the sale.

This includes structural issues, environmental matters and any notices or proposals. Any disputes and complaints should also be noted. Potential buyers want to know their investment is sound and the more detailed you are, the better.

Much of this can be found in the TA6 form, which is completed as part of the conveyancing process. Sellers will also need to provide the necessary paperwork to support what they disclose about the home. This includes the condition and external factors that could impact the home.

This article will cover the following:
  1. Do You Have to Disclose Problems When Selling?
  2. What Do You Need to Tell the Buyer?
  3. Do You Have to Disclose if Someone Died in Your House?
  4. What Happens If You Lie or Knowingly Withhold Information
  5. What Else Should a Seller or Estate Agent Declare?
  6. What is Caveat Emptor? 
  7. How is it Different in Scotland?

Do You Have to Disclose Problems When Selling?

Although you don't have to disclose what you consider to be a "bad neighbour", if there is a dispute involving the Party Wall Act and property boundies this will need to be declared.

Disputes with neighbours are not uncommon and when a resident moves away, it's likely to end there. However, if there have been serious concerns with a neighbour, these should be made known to potential buyers.

An example of this is any known neighbours served with a Civil Injunctions and Criminal Behaviour Order. If they are likely to impact the buyer's enjoyment of the home or the property value, then it must be declared.

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What Do You Need to Tell the Buyer?

When selling a property you must disclose anything that would make the buyer change their mind about the purchase. Failure to do so could result in prosecution.

During the conveyancing process, sellers must fill in TA6 Property Information Form. This is designed to give a prospective buyer key information about the property.

You must disclose the following:

  • Property boundaries between neighbours and any Party Wall Act notices.
  • Any disputes with neighbours.
  • Notices or proposals (for example, from the local council).
  • Building works which are in progress or recently completed and if the correct building regulations were obtained.
  • Details of building insurance
  • Environmental matters such as flood risks. You must also provide an Energy Performance Certificate.
  • Rights and informal arrangements including access rights, shared use and any obscure local laws.
  • Parking availability and rules for the property.
  • Details of occupiers if the property is sold with existing tenants.
  • Services include electricity, central heating, drainage, and sewage details.

Do You Have to Disclose if Someone Died in Your House?

If the death was violent, then it should be declared. However, it is a grey area when it comes to natural death. It may put some buyers off, but it is unlikely to dramatically decrease the value of a property in the way a murder or suicide would.

According to a survey from Sell House Fast, 36% of Brits surveyed said they would not buy a property where someone had died. Additionally, 44% of participants stated they would have second thoughts about the purchase. This may make sellers reluctant to disclose whether a death has occurred on the property.

If a violent and traumatic death or deaths took place on the property, this should be disclosed under Consumer Protection regulations. Both estate agents and property vendors must reveal any information that could impact the value of the property.

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What Happens If You Lie or Knowingly Withhold Information

If you withhold information or lie about your property, you could face prosecution. The buyer may also be entitled to claim damages.

This is often the difference between what the buyer paid for the home and the amount they would have paid if they had known about the issue.

Even if you unintentionally mislead the buyer, you could be in breach of the Misrepresentation Act. In extreme cases, the sale can be voided completely and the seller must cover the buyer’s expenses.

What Else Should a Seller or Estate Agent Declare?

In addition to the TA6 form and serious incidents such as a murder on the property, there are some concerns that should be made clear to the buyer.

These include but are not limited to:

  • If previous sales have fallen through and why
  • Any known structural issues
  • Any pests or protected animals on the property (such as bats in the attic)
  • High levels of crime in the area
  • If drug production has taken place at the property

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What is Caveat Emptor? 

Caveat Emptor is Latin for “let the buyer beware”. In the past, estate agents and sellers operated with “caveat emptor” in mind when it comes to a property sale. “let the buyer beware”. Although there are regulations in place for the seller to declare anything that could impact the property's value, the buyer is under an obligation to discover defects for themselves.

They are also strongly advised to arrange a property survey. Additionally, buyers are encouraged to carefully review the documents provided by their conveyancer.

A buyer must be able to prove misrepresentation if they find an issue with the home once the sale is final. It is therefore essential that the buyer is fully informed of the condition of the home. This is for their own sake, but it is also in the interest of the seller, their solicitor and the estate agent.

How is it Different in Scotland?

When it comes to selling a house in Scotland, there are a few differences. One of these is that the seller is legally required to organise a Home Report. This includes an Energy Report, a Single Survey and a Property Questionnaire.

The first two elements of the Home Report are completed by a RICS-accredited surveyor. The questionnaire must be filled out honestly and accurately by the seller. The report must be available to all potential buyers. This enables them to make an informed decision on the purchase.

Adele MacGregor

Having worked at Compare My Move for over four years, Adele covers topics such as the conveyancing process across the UK, property surveys, home moves and storage.

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