If you want your property sale to happen smoothly and successfully, it isn’t rocket science to conclude that it is important to make your home look appealing to potential buyers. If you are aware of any issues with your property, such as unpleasant neighbours, high crime rates in the area or even problems like subsidence, this may be difficult to do. Thus, many sellers feel the temptation to not disclose information that they know will put potential buyers off. Though this temptation may be great, we strongly advise you to be honest when making disclosures about key information about your home. Failure to do so could cause significant problems for you later on. With that in mind, let’s look at the things you are required to declare when selling a property.
What needs to be declared?
Once you have chosen an estate agent to handle the selling of your property, you will be required to fill out a number of forms. These forms will cover things like your reasons for selling and key information about your property, as well as questions about its structural state.
You should give full disclosure of things like:
- Structural changes to the building
- Disputes over boundaries and party walls
- Any Japanese knotweed that is present
- If any of your neighbours have an ASBO
- Whether your property is on a flight path
- Any significant occurrence within the property like a violent death
- Knowledge of high crime levels in the area
- Pending/approved/declined applications for planning permission
- Replacement windows or doors since April 2002
- Building insurance information
- Outstanding debts associated with the property
IMPORTANT: The things you are required to declare when selling a property can change over time. It’s important to check with your solicitor when selling to ensure you are complying with your legal requirements.
When communicating with potential buyers, remember:
- Consider how a ‘reasonable buyer’ would feel about certain issues – if it is likely to be viewed negatively, you should inform them.
- Think about context – if the prospective buyer is young and single, noisy neighbours or nearby pubs may not be an issue, while for a young family or elderly couple, they would probably prefer a quieter home.
What impact will the TA6 form have on the sale?
A TA6 form is a separate, legal document that conveyancing solicitors will ask you to fill out. It’s approximately 15 pages long and asks various questions about your property.
In most cases, a TA6 form will not have much of an impact on the sale of your property. Once all the necessary information has been declared, the ball is in your potential buyers’ court as to whether any issues mentioned will be an obstacle to them committing to buying the property.
A property may remain on the market for longer or even take a hit on the sale price – it all depends on the property and the nature of the issues disclosed. While this is an inconvenience, it is vastly preferable to being taken to court for withholding information and incurring the associated fees.
Keep in mind that with more serious issues that impact the sellability of your property, there may be special paperwork required. For example, if there is Japanese knotweed on your property or a neighbouring one, there will need to be paperwork indicating when and how it was treated and what the outcome was. If you present the full picture to potential buyers, you will reassure them that you are trustworthy and improve your chances of making the sale.
What if I refuse to complete the TA6 form?
It can sometimes be tempting to forego the completion of the TA6 form – after all, it is not a legal requirement. Most conveyancing solicitors will strongly urge you to fill it out, however, because if you don’t then it could be seen as a major red flag in the eyes of potential buyers. Essentially, it will look like you have something to hide.
Failing to complete the TA6 form could cause buyers to pull out of the sale, or at least delay the selling process as buyers have surveys performed and gather expert opinions to ascertain whether anything is wrong.
What if I lie on the TA6 form?
Ultimately, it is down to the seller to choose what is and is not declared when selling a property. The only thing that is certain is that everything declared must be accurate and correct. Once submitted, the document becomes legally binding, so if the buyer proceeds with the purchase and later discovers that you were deliberately dishonest on your TA6 form, they could take you to court.
It is not difficult to understand why some sellers are tempted to bend the truth on the TA6 form. Issues like ongoing boundary disputes or noisy neighbours are likely to put buyers off, and they may feel like issues you could get away with playing down. However, the form does not make it easy to lie since many questions simply require a yes or no answer. If you are not honest, your deception will quite easily come to light in time. In fact, if the contracts are exchanged and the new owner discovers that you were dishonest, they have every right to sue you and have the matter settled in court, so honesty truly is the best policy.
If you have doubts about what you should include on your TA6 form, such as small disputes with neighbours which were later resolved, the best advice is to ask your solicitor. As a general rule, if anything was put in writing to a neighbour, or there were calls made to the council or police, this should be mentioned in the form.
What are the consequences of failing to declare when selling a property?
The short answer to this question is that you can be sued.
In accordance with the Misrepresentation Act (1967), the burden of proof of misrepresentation has moved from the buyer to the seller. What this means is that the buyer doesn’t have to prove that you lied on the form; instead, you must prove that you DIDN’T lie. If the buyer decides to submit a claim against you and documents are discovered that prove you deliberately lied, you could be found guilty of fraud or negligence. This is likely to result in you having to pay damages to your buyer, which can amount to many thousands of pounds depending on the nature of the issue. With this in mind, is it really worth the risk of lying?
If your misrepresentation is deemed to be serious enough, the court may even order a rescission of the contract. In this instance, you would have to buy your old property back and also cover the additional expenses your buyer incurred, including legal costs and mortgage interest.
Finding a solution
If there are many issues with your property which are having a negative impact on your ability to sell it, one option to consider would be to sell to a ‘we buy any house’ company. This is particularly advantageous if you are in need of a quick sale, and you may still be able to get a good price for the property. Think Plutus can help advise on what would be the best course of action for your circumstances, so please don’t hesitate to get in touch and tell one of our friendly team about the situation today.