Honesty is always the best policy

When selling a freehold or leasehold property each and every seller, when instructing Solicitors to represent them, is required to complete the Law Society Property Information Form (Third Edition), also known as Form TA6.  The form states that the seller means “all the sellers together, where the property is owned by more than one person” and the buyer means “all the buyers together, where the property is bought by more than one person”.

The answers should be given by the person or persons who are named either on the title deeds or at the Land Registry as being the owner or owners of the property.  If the property is being sold under a Power of Attorney or Grant of Probate then the owner or owner’s legal representative can complete the form.  If there is more than one seller, the responses should either be given together or, if only one seller prepares the form, the other owners should check the contents of the completed form and all of the sellers are required to sign the form.

Further instructions on the aforementioned form state that all sellers should answer the questions based upon information known to them or, in the case of legal representatives, the information known to the legal representatives.  Sellers are not expected to have expert knowledge of legal or technical matters or matters that took place prior to their ownership of the property.  Once completed and received by any buyer’s Solicitors a copy of the form is then forwarded to the buyer and the instructions thereon are clear and concise.  These instructions state “you are entitled to rely upon the replies given to enquiries but, in relation to physical condition of the property, the replies should not be treated as a substitute for undertaking your own survey or making your own independent enquiries, which you are recommended to do”.

The relevance of the information and advice contained in the form TA6 is that the buyer of the property can rely upon the information contained therein.   Questions such as “do I have to let the buyers know that we have had a boundary dispute”,  “do I have to let the buyers know that we have had parking difficulties with the next door neighbours” and “do I have to let the buyers know that there are serious structural faults with the property” are asked far too frequently.  The answer to all of these questions is yes.  Honesty is always the best policy.

Stephen Bradley, Conveyancing Executive, advises:

“I have in recent times dealt with a purchase for clients who, to all intents and purposes, purchased a property in, what they considered to be a decent quiet area, only to be greeted by their new next door neighbour’s son advising that he was going to make life difficult for them as he had done for the previous owners of the property.  It transpired that the son of the next door neighbours had been making threatening and abusive behaviour and comments to the sellers of the property for a few years.  Not only was this not disclosed by the sellers in their completed Property Information Form (TA6) but the sellers also failed to disclose that the matter had been referred to Court on at least two previous occasions.

Naturally, upon my clients receiving their warning from the next door neighbour’s sons, they were extremely concerned and neither they nor their two infant children managed to have any satisfactory sleep pattern for the at least two weeks whilst the matter was resolved.  Fortunately, the resolution to this problem was resolved quicker than anticipated, as the person in question was soon thereafter imprisoned for criminal behaviour to other local residents’ property and fortunately his parents (the next door neighbours) were successful in quickly negotiating a sale and moved out of the area.

However, in the meantime this did cause much concern and anxiety for my clients and their very young family”.

It is therefore important to ensure that any replies given on Form TA6 are honest and accurate and that all information concerning the property that is being sold is divulged to the buyer’s and their Solicitors, as the buyer’s are purchasing the property relying upon the information provided.

If you require assistance in respect of a property transaction please do contact us at the office most convenient for you. Details can be found on the contact page of the website.

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