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What does a seller have to disclose?

A person selling a property is under an obligation to disclose any information that may impact a buyer’s decision to proceed with the purchase. This includes any positive or negative information known to the seller. It does not matter whether or not the buyer asks for this information. 

The important thing to consider is that you need to disclose anything that could cause a reasonable buyer to reconsider their decision to buy your property, or at least to do so at the agreed price. While it may seem obvious that you need to disclose any practical issues with your property, and it may also be fairly evident that you need to disclose any forthcoming changes to your neighbourhood that might have an impact on the property, it may be less obvious that you also need to disclose anything that might cause your house to be considered ‘stigmatised property’. This is a US term, but the basic concept also applies in the UK. Basically, it means that sellers must disclose anything that might have an emotional impact on the average buyer.

What if the seller doesn’t disclose all relevant information?

If a seller fails to act honestly and to disclose relevant information, they may face prosecution.

When it comes to property disclosure law, the relevant test is not necessarily whether or not a claimant (ie someone bringing a legal case) can prove that the seller knew something, but whether or not it would be reasonable to assume that the seller either knew it or should have known it. This means that, as a seller, you may be held liable in situations where it is reasonable to assume that you know or should have known about a (potential) issue related to your property.

What is the Property Information Form (TA6)?

It’s not remotely enough just to mention something verbally to a prospective buyer. Disclosure needs to be made via the legally recognised means, which is currently the Property Information Form (TA6). This form, which is typically sent by the buyer’s solicitor to the seller’s solicitor, requires the seller to provide certain information about the property under different categories. These include:

  • information about property boundaries (including party wall matters)

  • changes made to the property (eg extensions and alterations)

  • shared areas with neighbours (including informal and formal agreements, eg easements

  • information about occupiers (eg whether the property is rented out to tenants)

  • connection to utilities and other services 

  • environmental matters

  • information about services (eg utility services like electricity, central heating, drainage and sewage)

Read the accompanying Property Information Form TA6 explanatory notes to find out more about the form.

Some practical examples of points to disclose

What exactly you have to disclose depends on the details of the property. Important (potential) issues that need to be disclosed include:

  • structural defects in the property

  • anything related to planning permission (eg approvals granted, pending requests or previous denials)

  • flooding issues (whether current or historic)

  • anything related to pest control, including any pest-control measures taken in the past. In this context, pest-control means not only vermin, but also Japanese knotweed

  • problem neighbours. If you know that your neighbour has an Anti-Social Behaviour Order (ASBO), you must disclose this. Other issues are more a matter of common sense, although the guiding principle is that if you are in any doubt as to whether or not something should be disclosed, then you probably should disclose it and disclose it accurately

  • high crime rates (including any known burglaries in your neighbourhood)

  • flight paths in your vicinity

  • proposed environmental changes that could impact the enjoyment of the property (eg the construction of a new motorway)

  • any violent deaths (ie murders) or suicides that took place in the property

Mark Burns
Mark Burns
Managing Director at Pure Investor

Pure Investor are specialists in UK property investment, with a wide range of investment opportunities including student properties and buy-to-let in Manchester, Liverpool, Sheffield and Leeds.

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