When you are purchasing a property, you are at risk of discovering problems with it after you have completed the purchase. What can you do if problems such as faulty electrics, inadequate building work, leaks or general damage to the property occur within weeks or even months of the purchase? The money has been handed over and the property has been transferred to you; is it too late to do anything?

Actions against the seller

If you do discover a problem after completion, it is bound to be frustrating and you may well blame the seller of the property. However, each case differs so a claim against the seller may not be possible in every case.

Misrepresentation

Depending on the issue and the circumstances of the sale, there may be a potential claim for misrepresentation against the seller. This is where the seller has provided you with misinformation which led you to buy the property. We look more at misrepresentation in more detail in this article.
You will need to prove that there is a misrepresentation and not just a coincidence that a problem has arisen. For example, if the vendor has told you that the boiler is in good working order but you have found a month after completing that it breaks, it would be difficult to prove this was the vendor’s fault. A more serious issue would be if the vendor said that no major works had been carried out, but you later found out that works had been carried out without building regulations or planning permission. Such a claim would be more likely to succeed.
The circumstances in which you can claim misrepresentation are limited and to pursue a claim can be costly. There is also the added burden that a purchaser should carry out all investigations of the property before purchasing to satisfy himself. The vendor could argue that the issue would have been discoverable by inspection. A misrepresentation claim is a last resort and should only be used if the damage to the property is substantial and that there is a good chance of a claim succeeding.

New builds – snagging

If you have purchased a new build property, your new home is usually covered by a warranty and the builders will normally fix any issues after completion (this is known as ‘snagging’).

Tips to consider before completing the purchase

Purchasing a property is a stressful time for all of the family. Further, in most cases we see purchasers wanting to move into the property as soon as possible, which is understandable! However, it is crucial that you make sure you are satisfied with the condition of the property before signing up to anything. Here are our tips to consider:

  • Always instruct a surveyor to carry out a survey

Obtaining a survey is usually compulsory if you have a mortgage. However, you may wish to consider upgrading to a full homebuyer’s survey rather than the standard survey required. This means that the surveyor will carry out a full and detailed inspection on the property inside and out to highlight any defects or potential liabilities to you before you purchase.

  • Check the electrical and gas certification

This is particularly important if you are purchasing an older property. If no reports are available, ask for the gas and electrics to be tested and serviced. You should obtain a copy of the service report to check any faults.

  • Ask questions!

If you are concerned with anything in particular on inspecting the property, ask the vendor. Always ask the question in writing via your solicitor so that you can rely on the response.

  • View the property as many times as you need to

It is difficult to tell whether there are any problems present in the property by simply viewing it once. However, the more times you do view it the more chance you have of spotting anything. Try and view the property as close to completion as possible.

  • Obtain adequate insurance

You will usually have to obtain buildings insurance on exchange of contracts. Make sure the cover is adequate for you. Check that should you have an emergency or major problem with the property, the insurance would fully cover it.
Our property and property disputes solicitors can advise you if you have issues with your new property. Call us today on 0800 988 7756.