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Seller withheld vital information - what can we do?

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  • Seller withheld vital information - what can we do?

    Hi. I hope someone can help.

    We bought our house in June 2002 and have only now found out that the water supply is contaminated. We are on a private water supply, which we had tested when we moved in (and it was clear on the day it was tested). To cut a long story short, my husband and youngest son have become ill with cryptosporidium from the water and Public Health now require us to fit water treatment (which we can no longer afford to do).

    Public Health have told us that the water is a known contaminated supply. They have a file on the previous owner dating back to 1987 and there was a lot of correspondence with him telling him that he needed to install water treatment. He was also told to inform any future owners of the house and leave details of the water supply with the household documents, which he did not do. He lied in the property information form. He replied 'no' in answer to the questions "have you either sent or received any letters or notices which affect your property in any way e.g from or to neighbours, the council or a government department?" and "have you had any negotiations or discussions with any neighbour or any local or other authority which affect the property in any way?". The file at Public Health shows clearly that he had received letters and notices from the council regarding the contamination in the water supply. The local searches also did not highlight any issue with the water.

    I am so angry because we could have easily afforded to install water treatment when we refitted the bathroom and kitchen, but we were unaware of the problem. It has been 7 years of drinking and washing in e-coli, cryptosporidium and various other contaminants, and I've had 2 pregnancies! What can I do?

    Can I claim compensation from the previous owner for withholding vital information? Can I claim compensation from our solicitor or the local authority for failing to detect the issue? If so, how?

    Many thanks to anyone who can advise me.

  • #2
    It seems clear that the seller misrepresented the position, and probably fraudulently. That give you a cause of action against him, if he can be found. There is a potential issue regarding the limitation period for making a claim - usually 6 years from when the cause of action arose, unless you did not know *and could not reasonably be expected to know* that the cause of action had arisisen when it did, in which case the 6 year limitation period starts when you found out (or should have found ou), subject to a maximum possible limitation period of 15 years

    You need to consult a litigation solicitor as quickly as possible, to seewhat action can be taken

    Good luck!
    This is based on my experience as a conveyancing solicitor in England, but I do not accept liability for information I give in this forum


    • #3
      Thanks for that. I will find a litigation solicitor. I know where the seller is.