If you are selling a property, as part of the standard conveyancing process, your buyers will expect you to provide certain information about your property. There are set questions for this in what are called Pre Contract Enquiries that asks if you are aware of any problems regarding the property, or any complaints about the management company, or any neighbour.

Unfortunately, occasionally disputes occur and usually these can be resolved over time. But what if you are keen to move, can you still put your home on the market and hope to find a buyer at the right price?

Buyers will naturally be wary of buying into an ongoing dispute, so they will need reassurance and any sale will require careful handling.

How much must I tell a buyer?

You might have heard the expression ‘caveat emptor’, meaning the buyer needs to beware, but if you withhold information that could influence your buyer’s decision, you could be liable for misrepresentation.

Your buyer could reject the sale contract and require you to compensate them for any loss. So, if you are in any type of dispute tell your solicitor who can advise you about what you must disclose and how best to deal with it.

When asked if you know of any problems, in theory, you could refuse to answer these questions. However, a buyer is likely to find this suspicious and it could jeopardise your transaction. Sometimes sellers are tempted to tell a half-truth. This too can easily backfire, undermining the buyer’s confidence when they discover the full story.

If there is a problem, it is often better to be open and to tell the other party what you are doing to fix it.

Do I need to resolve any outstanding issues before selling?

Most buyers will view a historic dispute more favourably than an ongoing one. So, ideally, you should resolve any dispute before putting your property on the market. Your solicitor can advise whether this is possible in your desired timescale and, if so, how best to achieve it Sometimes, it may not be possible to resolve an issue before you need to sell. In this scenario you could agree that the buyer retains part of the purchase price pending the successful outcome of the issue. There are no one-size-fits-all solutions. So, it is important to have a solicitor on board who is experienced in complex property transactions.

Do I need to get retrospective consent to alterations?

If you have carried out recent work on the property, your buyer will want to see evidence of compliance with Planning and Building Control. If the work was in breach of a restriction or without consent you will need to apply for a regularisation Certificate from your local Council or on occasion take out insurance to cover any future risk.

How we can help

Ideally, you should contact your solicitor as soon as you think of selling if you are aware of an issue that might be problematic.

We can advise you about the implications of the issue on the proposed sale, support you through the negotiations or by obtaining relevant insurance. If you need some specialist support, we can introduce you to our colleagues in dispute resolution.

For further information, please contact Heather Rainey on 028 8224 2177 or email: reception@jamesmcnulty.co.uk

This article is for general information only and does not constitute legal or professional advice. Please note that the law may have changed since this article was published.