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Nightmare House Sale!

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  • Nightmare House Sale!

    I wonder if anyone out there could give me some advice on a recent property sale which has gone horribly wrong.

    The property I was selling was empty and the buyers pushed me into selling quickly before Christmas saying that they were going to be evicted. On reaching the exchange of contracts stage, they then informed me that they hadn't got the funds available so it would have to wait until after the Christmas period.

    The buyers were the last people in the property just before Christmas and I had not visited the property after this time. This is when we had the really severe weather.

    The contracts were then exchanged on the 4th of January and they completed on the 5th. I then received a call to say that on entering the property a pipe had burst making the property uninhabitable and that they wanted my house insurance details. Unfortunately, although the insurance payments had been paid to date, because the property was empty the insurance was invalid. I spoke to the insurance company who advised me that as I wasn't the owner of the house now anyway the wouldn't honour the claim regardless.

    Yesterday I received a rather unpleasant letter from the buyers solicitors threatening that unless I paid for all the work done and for the buyers rent (looks as though they weren't going to be evicted after all) amounting to approximately £15,000 to date, then I would be taken to court and that should a CCJ be made against me then I would be unable to obtain credit in the future and have to pay all solicitors fees etc etc.

    I had not been notified of any work that the buyers undertook or even informed of the extent of the damage up until this point. It appears that they have gone ahead with everything and are now chasing me for the money without even obtaining an independent damage surveyor.

    I have read over and over again that caveat emptor (buyer beware) applies in house sales but their solicitor says that is only to ensure that the conveyancing procedure has been followed correctly.

    Whilst I am extremely upset and sorry for the new buyers (and in fact had/have every intention of meeting them halfway) I need to know where I stand from a legal point of view.

    Should the buyers have made sure that the property was fit before exchanging contracts, the estate agents told me that had they asked they would have taken them to view the house before exchange but they never asked.

    Any constructive advice would be really appreciated.

    Thank you.

  • #2
    Re: Nightmare House Sale!

    I'd be interested to know what your own solicitor who dealt with the sale says about all this?

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    • #3
      Re: Nightmare House Sale!

      I only really dealt with the administrators whilst the sale was going through. When the burst pipe was discovered after completion my file was then passed to a solicitor. This solicitor seemed quite inexperienced and he said that he didn't really know what to say but maybe I should just pay it. He obviously didn't know the extent of the damage and that it would amount to thousands. He then said that I could deal with their litigation department, but that I would have to pay separately. This, as everyone knows can cost a great deal of money in itself.

      Can I just add that I feel terribly bad for the buyers, as it must be an awful experience for them to go through. The last thing I heard was that they were going to check out insurances and having heard nothing else assumed that all must be ok. If I had known that it wasn't (I'm assuming that their insurance wouldn't cover it) I would have offered to help.

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      • #4
        Re: Nightmare House Sale!

        Something similar came up in another thread, and the suggestion was that as the owners of a property are responsible for the repairs on the property - additionally, there is caveat emptor applicable which means the buyer takes any risks on board for any issues relating to the property that they do not make themselves aware of.

        In other words, the buyer must do a survey and make proper suitable arrangements to make sure the property is as they expect, and once they have paid for it, are entirely responsible for it.

        I would strongly recommend you speak to a property solicitor - at the worst it's going to cost you a couple of hundred quid, much cheaper than £15k - and I would be interested if they would recommend the same.

        Because at this stage it feels to me that the buyer is playing games with you and is potentially trying to defraud money from you, which is even more serious than a supposed burst water pipe.

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