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What do You Legally Have to Disclose When Selling a House? UK

If you’re planning to sell your home, you are highly encouraged to share certain information about that property with any prospective buyer prior to the exchange of contracts.  

In doing so, you will be helping parties who are interested in buying your house to make informed decisions as they move forward with the transaction.  

By familiarising themselves key details displayed on the platform via which the sale is to take place, potential buyers are likely to already have an understanding of your home’s: 

  • Basic layout (i.e. how many bedrooms, bathrooms etc.) 
  • Energy rating 
  • Attached land 
  • Parking arrangements 
  • General location 
  • Age
  • Tenure type (i.e. freehold, leasehold etc.) 

However, it is rare that a property listing will include much information beyond these points. 

So, is there anything else you need to let buyers know? When it comes to the information you provide, what are the legal requirements when selling a house? 

To find out, we recommend that you approach your conveyancing solicitor with the question “what do I have to disclose when selling a house in the UK?”.  

It is worth noting that, depending on the legal advisor you use, their answers may vary – with some going into more detail than others. 

In general, a good rule of thumb is to make the buyer aware of absolutely anything related to the property that may adversely affect them – either directly or indirectly.  

The details you provide should include anything that could affect the buyers’ safety and their enjoyment of the property, along with any factors that might lead to additional expense on their part. 

For some extra guidance, read on. Below, we explain the key factors and issues you’ll need to disclose to a buyer when selling a house. 

Structural Issues 

If your house is affected by subsidence or settlement issues, uneven flooring, damp or leaks, a sagging roof, leaning door frames or similar problems, this information should be given to a prospective buyer via their solicitor.  

You should also disclose any negative results from previous surveys, along with details of work that has been undertaken to rectify the issues. 

It is important to divulge these facts, as major defects are likely to add significant levels of cost and effort on the buyer’s part.  

If they have not budgeted for these expenses, or if they do not have the capacity or inclination to manage significant home improvements, it stands to reason that they would not wish to continue with the transaction should they have access to the correct information. 

Problems Relating to Health, Safety and Environmental Matters 

If significant levels of carbon monoxide have been recorded in the home, or if you are aware of the presence of asbestos or high concentrations of radon in any area within the property’s boundaries, this must be reported to the buyer as a matter of importance.  

Mould, too, is considered a health risk. It’s best to include details of the presence of any major areas of mould – along with information about any work that has been undertaken to remove it. 

Similarly, if there are hazards present on the land attached to the property – from precarious trees, to sinkholes and mine shafts, to leaking septic tanks – a seller should absolutely disclose this. 

Not only is it a moral failing to neglect to inform a buyer of safety issues, but there is a very real risk of prosecution should any problems arise as a result. 

Occupiers 

Naturally, if the property you are selling comes with residents, it’s very important that the buyer is aware of this!  

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If any building on your land is occupied by a third party, and if the occupant is not planning to leave when the property is sold, this fact may significantly affect the buyer’s decision to continue with the transaction. 

Pest Problems and Infestations 

You should always disclose issues involving insects, rodents, bats and other pests. You should also make your buyers aware of infestations of invasive plants like Japanese knotweed. 

Many problems of this kind represent an immediate health risk, and others often prove particularly costly to resolve or significantly restrictive – particularly in the case of bat roosts, which are protected by UK law. 

For this reason, buyers must be made aware of these matters prior to the exchange of contracts. This will give them the opportunity to make suitable preparations should they choose to move forward with the sale. 

Location Related Issues 

It is always best to offer up information about matters such as the local crime rate, the likelihood of flooding and any other local factors that may detract from the enjoyment of the property you are selling.   

Unpleasant smells from a sewage or waste disposal plant or antisocial noise levels from an airport or local entertainment venue should also be disclosed. 

Again, failure to provide this information may lead to the buyer making a purchase that they would not have pursued if they were able to see the “whole picture”. 

Problem Neighbours 

In this case, the term “neighbours” does not only refer to the residents living directly adjacent to the property being sold, but also to any others in the surrounding area.  

Neighbourhood disputes – particularly ones with a legal element, or in which there has been police involvement – should certainly factor in the information you disclose to a buyer. 

A chief reason for this is that if the new owners of the property are not aware of a particular sore spot, point of contention or legal decision, they are likely to run into the same problems that you did – and will have to fight the same battles all over again. 

If certain residents of the local area are particularly antisocial, and especially if you have had to take out a court order or similar action against them, it is possible that they will behave in a similar manner to the property’s new owners. 

This is another way in which neglecting to inform the buyers of a certain issue may significantly affect their enjoyment of their new home. 

Previous Alterations 

If you have made any adjustments to your property – for example, the addition of an extension – you should let your buyer know that you commissioned this work.   

You should also tell them when it occurred and provide them with the relevant documentation and certificates for anything that has been professionally “signed off”. You’ll need to show a certificate of compliance for any new electrical work, for example. 

For further details about required documentation relating to your property transaction, take a look at this handy guide to the certificates you’ll need in order to sell your house. 

Guarantees and Warranties 

If there are any elements of the property or its permanent fixtures and fittings that are still within warranty, or that are protected by any form of guarantee, this information should be divulged to the buyer. 

Planning Permission 

If you have applied for planning permission for the property you are selling, all relevant details should be included in the documentation you pass on to the buyer. 

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You’ll need to let them know whether the permission has been granted or if it is still pending. If you have previously been denied planning permission, you should disclose this too. It is always best to include extensive details of the nature of the permission in question. 

In recent years, sellers have also been encouraged to inform buyers about planning permission and development notices or proposals relating to nearby properties as well as their own. 

Easements

The term “easement” usually refers to an agreed-upon right for a third party to use part of the property in question – as a means of access, for example.  

Whether they are officially registered or not, easements associated with your property should always be made known to buyers.  

Failure to disclose matters of this kind when selling a house can lead to awkwardness and confusion for the buyer and the third party at best, and complex legal disputes at worst. 

For extra clarity, it is recommended that sellers include details of the property’s legal boundaries, as well as any formal or informal agreements with additional parties, within the information they disclose to buyers. 

Outstanding Debts and Financial Issues 

Certain property-related debts may pass on to the buyer upon the exchange of contracts. For this reason, if your house has associated debt as the result of a home improvement loan or a similar matter, interested parties must be informed in good time. 

These details should be disclosed as a matter of importance, as they could lead to the buyer being held financially accountable for certain charges when they have not factored any expenses of this kind into their budget. 

Building Insurance 

Details of your building insurance must be provided as part of the documentation that is passed on to your buyer.  

These details should include clear references to past insurance claims relating to the property, specifically when the claim was made, why the claim was made, and the aspects of the building to which it related. 

You should also inform the seller if you have ever been refused insurance on the property or had a claim rejected, as they will need to know if there are any factors that may affect their own insurance-related transactions. 

Major Incidents 

“Do you have to disclose a death when selling a house?” is a question commonly put to property sales specialists.  

The answer is that, while you are under no legal obligation to inform a buyer that someone has passed away in the property, it is considered best practice to let them know of any violent deaths, such as those resulting from murder or suicide. 

Of course, if you live in a property that is particularly old, records of past deaths that have occurred therein will be much more difficult to find. For this reason, you cannot be expected to provide this information. 

However, if a burglary has taken place in the house, you are encouraged to let the buyer know – and inform them of improvements you have made to your security systems after the fact. 

How to Disclose Issues to a Buyer 

The most straightforward, commonly-accepted manner in which to disclose problems with your house to a potential buyer is to fill in a TA6 form in as much detail as you can.  

A TA6 or property information form is a document that the seller must complete for the buyer’s reference, to enable them to make informed decisions regarding the purchase of their property and to eschew any kind of misrepresentation. 

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The seller’s conveyancing solicitor will provide this document, which the seller should then complete without withholding any information whatsoever. 

A TA6 form includes fourteen sections that the seller may fill in. These cover the following subject areas: 

  • Boundaries 
  • Disputes and Complaints 
  • Notices and Proposals 
  • Alterations, Planning and Building Control  
  • Guarantees and Warranties
  • Insurance
  • Environmental Matters
  • Rights and Informal Arrangements
  • Parking
  • Other charges
  • Occupiers
  • Services
  • Connections to Utilities and Services
  • Transaction Information 

If there are additional issues relating to the property you are selling that do not seem relevant to any of the fields on the form, be sure to discuss these matters with your solicitor before submitting the completed document. 

The TA6 form containing all relevant information will usually be passed from your legal representative to the buyer’s solicitor, then on to the buyer.  

It’s a good idea to prepare for follow-up questions, particularly if any of the details you have provided could be considered unusual or particularly complex. 

What Do You Legally Have to Disclose When Selling a House in the UK? 

Up to this point, this guide has provided information regarding what you should disclose to a buyer. But what do you have to disclose when selling a house?  

The phrase “caveat emptor” or “buyer beware” has somewhat muddied the waters when it comes to the general understanding of this matter. It has led many people to believe that sellers are under no official legal obligation whatsoever to disclose property issues or defects. 

Instead, it is assumed that the onus is always on the buyer to find out about any problems that may affect either the sale or their enjoyment of the property once they have moved in. 

While this is partly true, sellers who attempt to purposefully mislead the buyer by acting dishonestly while filling in a TA6 form may be sued by the injured party under the Misrepresentation Act of 1967. 

Additionally, the Consumer Protection Against Unfair Trading Regulations (CPRs), introduced in 2008 and amended in 2014, stipulate that a seller must provide any and all details that could have a bearing on the buyer’s ultimate decision to complete the property transaction. 

Again, failure to disclose this information about your home could result in prosecution. 

For these reasons, a good solicitor will always advise you to be totally honest when completing this documentation. A small lie simply isn’t worth the potential legal upheaval. 

In Conclusion 

Put simply, a seller is not legally obligated to inform buyers of defects, problems or legal issues surrounding the property at the centre of the transaction.  

However, if they are found to have purposefully misled or misrepresented the property to the buyer, they may be liable to pay significant damages to the other party.  

For this reason, a good solicitor will always advise you to be completely honest on your TA6 form when selling a property, and to provide as much detailed information as you can. 

Any Questions? 

The above guide should provide you with plenty of information about the details you’ll need to disclose to buyers when selling a property.  

For further details about property sales – for example, if you wish to know how to sell your house fast for cash as part of a stress-free process without any legal fees – simply get in touch with us today.  

We’ll provide you with a free valuation and a cash offer to get the ball rolling on your speedy sale.