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Buying a property? Getting a survey is YOUR responsibility

The recent case of Hardy and Griffith [2014] raised the question as to whether a buyer of a residential property is able to rely on representations made by the seller, about the physical condition of the property.

The property involved was a 17th Century property with an agreed purchase price of £3.6M.

The property was allegedly subject to rising damp and rot, which the purchasers argued should have been disclosed during the conveyancing process.

The purchasers had made verbal enquiries about the damp and rot, with both the sellers and the estate agent.  The purchaser’s solicitor also raised enquiries in this regard.  However, no information was provided.

It was argued by the purchasers that the issues of rising damp and rot should have been disclosed to them prior to exchanging contracts.

During the Judgement it was made clear that a seller is not required to disclose the property’s physical defects to a prospective buyer during the conveyancing process.

If you are buying a property, you must investigate further and consider the following:

  • Take responsibility for ensuring that you are happy with the state and condition of the property you are buying before exchanging contracts.
  • Speak to a surveyor and decide which type of survey is necessary for the property you have agreed to buy.  Is it a Home Condition Report, Homebuyer’s Report or a Building Survey?  A surveyor can provide this guidance to you.
  • Do not expect your lawyer to raise questions concerning the state and condition of the property.  There is an agreement in place between lawyers that these questions will not be raised or answered.

At Napthens, we can recommend local surveyors based in our area who can advise you further.  It is important that you obtain this advice before you exchange.