What do I have to tell my buyer?

I am selling my house. I have to fill in a Property Information Form for my buyer. We have had a few problems but I am worried that I might put off my buyer if I disclose them on the form.

I am selling my house. I have to fill in a Property Information Form for my buyer. We have had a few problems but I am worried that I might put off my buyer if I disclose them on the form. What do I have to disclose?

The rule “caveat emptor” (let the buyer beware) does still apply when you are selling a property, but you are still under a duty to disclose to your buyer any defects in your title deeds and any latent (hidden) incumbrances.

The latter have been held to include a right of way which, although apparent on inspection, was held to be a latent defect which should have been formally disclosed to the buyer.

A seller should also disclose any boundary adjustments or disputes with the neighbours.

And sellers should also consider disclosing rights affecting their property, for example, any services which run through the property or any short cuts over their land or car parking rights enjoyed by the neighbours. Sellers shouldn't assume that a buyer is aware of such matters but should make a disclosure.

Does this duty of disclosure apply to any occupants?

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You should disclose any occupants such as lodgers or au pairs.

What about issues with the council?

You must disclose any official letters you have received. It is advisable to disclose any planning matters relating to your house or next door.

And physical defects, can we hide any problems such as damp patches or cracks in the wall? Can we just assume that the buyer's surveyor should pick up on any problems?

You don't have to disclose physical defects, but the buyer may be able to claim damages under the tort of deceit if you deliberately conceal a known physical defect.

What could happen if we fail to make a disclosure?

Your buyer may be able to rescind (cancel) the contract and claim back their deposit or they may have a remedy for damages. If in any doubt, speak to your solicitor who will be able to advise you on what issues should be disclosed.