Following on from our blog “My Seller Lied to Me!”, we thought we would set out some examples of real cases of claims for
misrepresentation
that have been decided on by the Courts.

A recap of the position – what is misrepresentation?

A contract to purchase a property is no different to any other contract. If one party to a contract says something which isn’t factually accurate and the other party relies on that statement when entering the contract, this can give rise to a claim for misrepresentation.

If someone suffers a financial loss as a result of the reliance that they have placed on a representation which is false, then the aggrieved party can normally claim damages to compensate them for this.

In some cases it is possible to rescind the contract. Rescission means putting the parties in the position that they would have been in had the contract not been entered into, effectively “reversing” the transaction completely.

Misrepresentation in property transactions

IIf the seller of a property makes a false statement of fact about it and the buyer relies on this statement when deciding to proceed with the purchase, if this causes the buyer a loss, the buyer may have a misrepresentation claim against the seller.

Property transactions normally follow a well-established process. Part of this process includes the buyer asking questions about the property and the seller answering them. These questions are called pre-contract enquiries. To speed the process up, certain basic information about the property is normally given in advance by the seller, by completing a Property Information Form or TA6.

How misrepresentations happen

Property transactions normally follow a well-established process. Part of this process includes the buyer asking questions about the property and the seller answering these. These are called pre-contract enquiries.

To speed the process up, certain basic information about the property is normally given in advance by the seller, by completing a property information form.

The Law Society has published standard forms which many solicitors will use, but there is no rule to say that a bespoke form cannot be used or indeed that a seller needs to provide this at all. However, if a seller does not provide this information, a buyer may be unwilling to proceed.

The standard forms which are normally used in property transactions include the Seller’s Property Information Form (TA6 – sometimes referred to as a SPIF) and Sellers Leasehold Information Property Form (TA7 – for leasehold transactions). There are other standard forms which the Law Society have produced and may also contain information, when completed, which amount to representations.

Warnings to both the buyer and seller appear on the standard property information forms, informing the parties that the seller must answer the questions accurately because the buyer is entitled to rely on them when deciding whether or not to enter into the contract.

Whilst much of the time it is what appears in the property information form which forms the basis of a misrepresentation claim, any statement about the property which is untrue can be capable of amounting to a misrepresentation. Written (and sometimes even oral) correspondence between the parties and their solicitors can amount to misrepresentations too. It is important to consider the contractual terms, as these would normally look to exclude or limit liability for things said outside of what is recorded in the contract.

Mistakes can happen and a seller can make an “innocent misrepresentation”. Sometimes, a seller may make a “reckless misrepresentation”, saying something without caring or checking whether or not the statement is accurate. In some cases, a seller might deliberately say something which is misleading so the buyer proceeds with the transaction, which may amount to a “fraudulent misrepresentation”.

So what happens when the buyer discovers the truth? We have set out below some real cases, decided by the Courts, to give you an idea of how these cases are dealt with in practice.

What is a false statement of fact?

Historically, only a statement of fact which was false was considered a basis to bring a misrepresentation claim. An incorrect statement about the law, or a person’s opinion of something, were not considered capable of being misrepresentations.

However, in Pankhania v LB Hackney [2002], the Court established that in some cases, a statement as to the legal position can amount to a statement of fact. In that case, the buyers purchased a property on the basis that the existing occupiers were licensees and not tenants.

This was important, as it is easier to terminate a business licence than a business tenancy. The Court considered this to amount to an actionable misrepresentation, even though the inaccurate statement related to the legal position between the seller and existing occupier.

What if the seller doesn’t know?

If a seller does not know the answer to a question in the seller’s property information form, it is important that they do not speculate or suggest anything other than to explain that they do not know the answer. To suggest anything else can lead to trouble.

A primary authority on this point is William Sindall Plc v Cambridgeshire CC [1993]. In that case, the seller of a piece of land for development was asked whether or not they were aware of any rights affecting the property, other than those which could be seen on an inspection or which had not been disclosed in the contract.

The seller answered “not as far the vendor is aware”. This seemingly innocuous statement was considered by the Court to be a false statement of fact.

In fact a sewer ran underneath the land and this was not discovered until after completion. The Court confirmed that the statement “not so far as the vendor is aware” implied that the seller had taken steps to verify what they were saying was correct.

In short, the Court found that the seller had effectively said “I have checked, but can’t find anything”.

What if a buyer has not “relied” on the misrepresentation?

For a claim for misrepresentation to exist, there must be reliance on the part of the person that the representation is made to. If it does not influence the decision to enter into the contract, it cannot be a misrepresentation.

It doesn’t have to be the sole reason for entering into the contract, but it does have to be material and induce the person to enter into it, normally without making enquiries that they may otherwise have made. It generally also does not matter if someone can discover the truth if they had taken steps to do so.

In another case where the phrase “not so far as the seller is aware” was used is Clinicare Ltd v Orchard Homes Development Ltd [2004]. In that case, the prospective tenant of a commercial property asked about dry rot in the property and relied on this response from the landlord, even though the landlord advised the tenant to instruct their own surveyor, which they did.

The surveyor reported dry rot in the roof space. In fact there was also dry rot in the staircase and the surveyor suggested further enquiries about the staircase should take place. The tenant didn’t do this.

The Court held that the decision to ignore the seller’s advice to investigate the staircase further was based on the fact that the seller had said that it was unaware of any dry rot in the premises.

In Redgrave v Hurd (1881), a solicitor was advertising for a partner to join his practice and made claims which were factually untrue about the profitability of the practice.

Even though the prospective partner was given the opportunity to “discover the truth” by inspecting paperwork, and he decided not to, it was held on appeal that there had been an innocent misrepresentation.

In short, the prospective partner was reasonably entitled to rely on the statement made by the existing partner, even though had he checked, he would have realised that the practice was not as profitable as was claimed.

Does a seller have to correct a buyer’s misunderstanding of something?

Silence does not normally amount to a misrepresentation. Normally there has to be something specifically said which is factually untrue; the buyer cannot rely on a statement if it is never made.

However, sometimes allowing the other party to the contract to proceed on an obvious error or misunderstanding without correcting this can amount to a misrepresentation.

Whilst not a property misrepresentation case, the principles of National Westminster Bank Plc v Angeli Luki Katonou [2006] are still relevant. In that case a personal guarantee for a loan was given on the basis that the bank had led the borrower to believe that his company’s loans, including the one being guaranteed, would not be subject to debt collection processes.

The Court decided that the guarantee was given as a result of a negligent misrepresentation in failing to correct the guarantor’s understanding. The guarantee was rescinded and held to be unenforceable by the Court.

Can I force the seller to take the property back?

Rescission can sometimes be available as a remedy for a misrepresentation claim. However, it is what is known as an “equitable remedy” and is therefore at the Court’s discretion. The Court will not award rescission as a remedy unless damages would not adequately compensate the aggrieved party.

With property transactions it is a rare case where the contracts can effectively be reversed and the seller be forced to take the property back and refund the purchase price.

In Harsten Developments Ltd v Bleaken and Others [2012], a developer bought a site at auction and based part of the decision to so on information contained in the auction pack, which was made available to potential bidders in advance. The information provided included factually inaccurate information about the boundaries and a sewer.

The Court confirmed the position that rescission as a remedy to a misrepresentation claim is only generally available in cases of reckless or fraudulent misrepresentation.

The overall result of this case was that the Court applied its discretion under section 2(2) of the Misrepresentation Act 1967 and ordered rescission, along with damages for the other expenses.

Ross River Ltd v Cambridge City Football Club Ltd [2007] involved the sale and leaseback of a football stadium. In this particular case, the Court found that material misrepresentations had been made, and these were done with a view to influence the negotiations relating to the transaction.

As this was considered to be in the mind of the misrepresenting party, the Court considered this to be a fraudulent misrepresentation and ordered rescission of the contract.

What happens if the representation was true when it was made but is now factually inaccurate?

In some cases, a change in circumstances, rendering a previously true representation subsequently inaccurate, can give rise to a duty to update the other party.

In Spice Girls Ltd v Aprilia World Service [2002] the issue was whether or not there was effectively an implied representation that the pop group would not split up for the duration of an advertising contract.

Of course, the group did split up, which resulted in Court action being taken. The Court determined that there was a duty to correct the misunderstanding when it became clear that this was going to happen.

In the case of FoodCo UK LLP v Henry Boot Developments Ltd [2010] this principle was considered in the context of property.

It involved a motorway service station and a proposed development to the local area which would have increased the number of customers to the site. This development did not go ahead.

The Court decided that unless the representing party knew that the previous representations had become false, or did not care whether or not they had, there was no duty to correct the previous representation.

When buying and selling property, caution should be exercised if a seller becomes aware of a change of circumstances. It is generally best to correct any representations which subsequently become untrue as a result of a change of circumstances.

It’s my solicitor’s fault!

It is important to also understand that when a solicitor, giving or receiving information on behalf of their client, their client will be deemed to have that information.

In Strover v Harrington [1988] a property which did not have mains drainage was described as agents and then the valuer as having so. In fact, the seller had given the correct information to the buyer’s solicitor who had failed to pass this on to the buyer client.

It was held that the reason for the loss to the buyer was not as a result of the misrepresentation but because the buyer’s solicitor had not passed the correct information on. In such a case, the solicitor would potentially be liable for a claim for professional negligence.

The converse is also true.

In Cemp Properties (UK) Ltd v Dentsply [1989], the seller’s solicitor stated that certain documentation was not available when in fact it was. Had those documents been supplied to the seller, the seller would have discovered a number of problems with the property.

The buyer was successful in their claim against the seller and no doubt, the seller pursued a claim against their solicitor for professional negligence after this.

The seller told me that everything with the neighbours was fine

In McMeekin v Long [2003], the seller expressly answered “no” to questions about whether or not there were any disputes with neighbours or complaints about them as owners. The sellers in fact went further and orally stated that the neighbours were friendly.

The reality of the position was that there was an ongoing dispute about access to the property, parking and the access road, which the sellers had a right of way over.

The seller suggested that the dispute had been resolved, but the Court considered that there was a continuous confrontational atmosphere between the seller and the neighbours.

The Court specifically referred to how clear the questions in the property information form were and how it was written in such a way that it was designed for everyone to use and did not require any specific legal knowledge.

Based on the fact that anyone would clearly consider the facts of this case to amount to a dispute, the Court decided that there had been a fraudulent misrepresentation.

The seller told me that the property had never flooded

Whilst a Scottish case, and therefore not directly relevant to English Law, the case of Anwar v Britton [2018] (which involved arguments regarding a contractual clauses which sought to exclude representations), gives an example of how subjective questions regarding historical flooding of property can be and what flooding in fact means.

To one person, waterlogging may not constitute flooding, to others, it may very well do.

In this case, the buyer obtained a flood report which identified a low flood risk and recommended that the buyer raise this point with the seller. The seller’s solicitor explained that the seller had not experienced issues of flooding. It transpired that the stream which ran near the property had overflowed from time to time.

The Court held that this was a misrepresentation.

The seller said that there was no Japanese Knotweed on the property

Whilst we are unaware at this time of any reported cases on Knotweed, considering the increase in the number of nuisance claims arising as a result of knotweed being present on neighbouring land following cases such as Network Rail Infrastructure Limited v Williams [2018], it would not surprise us if there have been unreported misrepresentation claims.

Knotweed can be difficult and costly to eradicate, and to be informed that it is not present on the property when in fact it is or was, may very well amount to an actionable misrepresentation.

The seller told me that they were not aware of any developments or planning proposals in the area

In the case of Thorpe v Abbotts [2015] the sellers answered “No” to questions in the seller’s property information form regarding whether or not they had received any planning or other notices affecting the property or had any discussions or negotiations with any neighbour or authority about this.

The sellers had in fact attended public meetings regarding the proposed development of a site nearby to the property. This was at the time one of a number of sites that the local authority were considering for development.

Despite this, the Court found that there had been no misrepresentation. Broadly, the Court highlighted the fact that the property information form was designed for lay people to complete and required no specialist legal knowledge.

With this in mind, it considered that the answers to the questions were factually accurate, as at the time no definite plan to develop the nearby site had been reached, no planning notice served and no specific negotiations had taken place.

The seller told me that everything with the landlord was fine

In leasehold purchases, the new owner will become liable for the breaches of the lease by the previous tenant.

For example, if things such as ground rent or service charges have not been paid, it would mean that the new owner would be liable to pay these. It is therefore important that the position with the landlord is established and standard forms, including the leasehold information form, are normally used for this purpose.

In Greenridge Luton One Ltd v Kempton Investments Ltd [2016] the seller of an office block suggested in the Commercial Property Standard Enquiries Form that the tenant was not in arrears of service charges. This was not the case and significant arrears were found after exchange but before completion.

The Court held that this amounted to a misrepresentation and that the buyer was entitled to rescind the contract and recover its deposit.

What about auctions?

In Atlantic Estates Ltd v Ezekiel [1991] a property was put into an auction. The sales particulars in the auction catalogue described the property as a wine bar and showed a photograph of the wine bar with customers going in and out. The property did not in fact have a licence and was not currently used as a wine bar.

On appeal the Court found that the description of the property as a wine bar and the photograph together amounted to a misrepresentation, insofar as it suggested that there the premises could immediately be used as a wine bar.

With auctions, it is always advisable to take the auction pack, the relevant contractual terms and auction terms and conditions to a solicitor to check the position before bidding. Whilst the seller does not have to volunteer more information about it, this process does help to identify risks and potentially costly mistakes.

So what does the seller have to tell a buyer?

The short answer to this is “nothing”.

If the seller makes no representations about the property and tells the buyer to rely solely on their own investigations, there can be no claim for misrepresentation. The principle that applies is “buyer beware” or “caveat emptor”; it is for the buyer to decide whether or not to purchase the property based on the information they have.

In the case of Sykes v Taylor-Rose [2004], a question appearing in the property information form used at the time asked the seller the extremely broad question “Is there any other information which you think the buyer may have a right to know?” The seller answered “No”.

In fact, a murder had taken place in the property in the past but the Court decided that this was not something which the seller was obliged to disclose.

It considered the question subjective and on the basis that the sellers had answered it honestly, namely that they did not think it was relevant to the purchase, it was held that there had been no misrepresentation.

Conclusion

Every property misrepresentation case turns on its own unique facts. Whilst principles established in historical cases may be relevant, the simple solution to avoid issues in the future is to answer questions honestly or not at all.

However, mistakes can happen and if you have been adversely affected by a misrepresentation in any transaction, do feel free to get in touch with us.

This article is for information only. It is not a precise statement of the law and should not be relied upon as or for a substitution for proper legal advice. The circumstances of every case are different. We are always happy to discuss your circumstances to see if we can assist.

23 thoughts on “Property Misrepresentation Claims in Practice”

  1. We recently purchased a flat and within a short period of being in residence, noticed a few issues, ie the kitchen tap was leaking so badly, that it had to be replaced. The seller was likely aware of this as they had put a bowl in the cupboard under the sink to catch the leaking water. Additionally, the oven had been left in an unhygienic state necessitating a professional clean. On turning on the oven thereafter, the glass door pane shattered, requiring us to replace the oven. We approached the seller through the attorneys to be compensated for the costs incurred. She offered only to refund the cost of the oven cleaning, denying any leak or that the oven was not cleaned and therefore unusable and certainly after the glass shattering, even more so. Would we have any legal recourse against the seller for her failure to disclose and her subsequent denial when clearly we have photographic evidence of her actions to disguise the issue. As this was purchased during the current pandemic, the agent discouraged touching anything in the flat on viewing,

    1. Thank you for your comment. Based solely on what you have said here, whether there is an actionable misrepresentation or not depends upon what the seller specifically said to you. There is no general obligation to disclose defects when selling a property, however, if a seller is specifically asked something and gives an incorrect answer, or actively makes a false statement in respect of the property, and this false statement is one that you rely upon, then you may have redress against the seller in misrepresentation. Therefore her failure to disclose the issues you refer to would only give rise to a claim if you can show that she actively made statements that were false on, for instance, the property information form or similar.

      You also say that she attempted to disguise the issue. This also can give rise to a claim as in attempting to cover up the issues she may have taken actions which constituted an attempt by her to “paint a false picture.” However this will be more difficult to establish than pointing to a specifically false statement that you relied upon.

      Please feel free to telephone our Braintree office for a confidential discussion.

  2. Hello,
    My mum had just bought a new family home, we have lived here 2 months and suddenly sewage is coming out of the drain leading to the cesspit which as far as we knew was unused as all the house sewage was connected to the mains and only the outside toilet was connected to it, we had the outside toilet knocked down so now there should be no sewage draining to the cesspit right? Well after the sewage company have come to investigate apparently our main toilet is still connected to the cesspit! So they can’t touch it as it is private? We were not informed about this now it is over flowing and the pipe has cracked causing a huge job for us to repair the whole thing! Are we liable to a claim after being told in black and white written in the contract that we are connected to mains?

    1. Thank you for your comment. Sewage backing up is always unpleasant and understandably can cause severe distress.

      From what you have said there may be a claim against the seller in misrepresentation. If they had stated positively that the property was connected to mains and this was in fact not the case, and this was stated in the contract or property information form, this could give rise to a claim. However we would need to check the contract in full and also any other communications between the parties, as there may be a non-reliance clause or exclusion clause therein which affects your ability to bring such a claim. We would also have to determine whether it was an intentional misrepresentation by the seller, or merely a negligent or innocent one, which would affect the merits of such a claim also.

      Please can you contact us on our office number for a confidential discussion should you wish to take this further.

  3. Hi there!
    I recently bought a property. Seller failed to disclose known upcoming major works, which nature and extent was being communicated to the leaseholders up to 2years before the property was sold to me. A few months after I moved in I received a Sect. 20 for the value of 35k. The seller always denied knowledge or the nature or likelihood of major works taking place (as stated as well in the pre-contracy documentation). She only mentioned there was the intention of carrying out some work and provided outdated section 20s from as early as 2010, for works that were clearly never done. She then concealed knowing about this major works plan, which was disclosed in detail to her by the council, when she notified them of her intention to sell, as well as being communicated to all leaseholders since as early as 2018-2019. I have a statement from the council confirming her knowledge of such work, as well as exchange documents in which she denies knowing any detail on any possible work to take place, except for asbestos removal (which is not applicable to the property anyway) . Do I have the grounds for a property misrepresentation claim?

    1. Thank you for your comment.

      It is difficult to say whether or not there is a misrepresentation claim without considering the exact statements made and looking at the timeline of events. Certainly, if there is good evidence that the seller was aware of the proposal and took deliberate steps to conceal this, there could be a misrepresentation claim.

      Section 20 Notices and the invoices for these can sometimes be several years apart. Depending on what information was supplied to your solicitor, there may also be some professional negligence here. It would be usual in a conveyancing transaction to obtain a management pack, which would normally contain details of upcoming works or Section 20 Notices. If you were not properly advised about this, there could be some negligence on the part of your solicitor.

      If you would like to consider the matter in more detail, please do feel free to get in touch (https://cunningtons.co.uk/contact)

  4. Terry Young

    Thank you for your time, I also believe they signed docs knowing the issues ie that Gov and Local authority had been passed , they did alterations hence rate block, without approved plans which is fraud in my eyes

  5. My partner and I have recently bought a house through an agent. A huge selling point for us was to have an open space area downstairs combining the living room and kitchen. In this particular house there is a wall in between the two rooms – we notified the agent straight away (during the viewing) that we would plan to knock it down if we were ever to purchase the property. We’ve put an offer down and it got accepted but before the exchange of contracts I asked the agent in an email to confirm in writing if the wall was non-load bearing. They came back to me saying that the seller confirmed that it is in fact non-load bearing. We went through with the sale.
    We got the keys and wanted to get rid of that wall as it was a crucial part of renovating the downstairs area. Unfortunately we came across block work. We managed to get a structural engineer in to check the wall and were told that this wall is load bearing and would need a lintel and a column if we ever wanted to get rid of it. The cost of removing the wall and putting the beams in is quite significant and of course not something we expected. We both feel like if we had known that the wall was load bearing we either wouldn’t have gone through with the sale or would have negotiated the price of the house.
    Is there any basis for us to request any compensation?
    Would really appreciate any help with this!
    Thank you!

    1. Thank you for your comments on this and your enquiry regarding the misrepresentation relating to a load-bearing wall. While we cannot give specific legal advice in these comments, If you can show that the seller knew, or could reasonably have known, that the wall was load-bearing but gave a false statement as to whether this was the case when asked, then there may be a claim here. The issue, though, is that there may be non-reliance clauses in the contract that may affect the position. It would also depend on whether it can be shown that the seller did in fact know that the statement they gave was, in fact, false. Please feel free to telephone us on our office number if you wish to discuss this with us further.

  6. Greetings

    I bought directly from a individual who signed the OTP that all warranties had been met including all plans passed by Gov and Local authorities. I moved in prior to transfer at agreed occupational interest, that was 3 months ago, transfer held up at rates office and can take 4 mths to redo plans and be passed, hopefully, I stopped the occ interest, this a fraudulent misrepresentation, together with severe storm water flooding, had these been passed these items would have been highlight as it is very clear someone has tried to patch a wall of the home and flooding internally as well. OPINION PLEASE going off my my head

    1. Thank you for your comments relating to a possible misrepresentation over flooding. It should be noted that it is not necessarily a misrepresentation for the seller to withhold information, rather, you would have to be able to point to a specific false statement by them. This may be something we can assist you with as we may be able to go through the documents and plans and warranties that they signed and see if there are such falsehoods. Please feel free to contact us at our office number for a confidential discussion.

      1. Thank you for your time, I also believe they signed docs knowing the issues ie that Gov and Local authority had been passed , they did alterations hence rate block, without approved plans which is fraud in my eyes

      2. I’ve just bought a property which the seller stated is connected to a septic tank. I can’t find the septic tank and just as worryingly can see the kitchen sink waste emptying straight into the river. I can see the consequences of what will happen if Environmental Services become involved. Is there a case for the Seller to answer?

        1. Thank you for your comment. While we cannot give specific advice on individual cases, whether or not this would be a misrepresentation depends on what exactly was stated in the Property Information Form and other written communications. If they stated that there was a septic tank for drainage but there is not, then that is potentially a misrepresentation. Though this will of course depend on the contents of that form and also the contents of the contract or other communications between the parties.

          If you wish to discuss this further please feel free to telephone us on our office number.

  7. Hi,

    I recently purchased land described as an “former advertising site” from auction. I bought the land with the intention of using it as an advertising site and for this reason paid significantly more then the guide price.
    I viewed the legal pack and there was nothing to suggest that the site was not suitable for advertising purposes. The LA searches did not list details of a discontinuance order, planning breaches or enforcement notices involving the site. My decision to buy the site was determined by the details in the LA search document and the statement saying it was a former advertising site.

    I have now been informed that enforcement action was taken against a billboard on the site and the planning inspectorate ruled the location was not suitable for billboards(something i wanted to install) . If I knew of the enforcement action, I would have never purchased the site. Due to the enforcement i have lost a contract i secured with a very large company who wanted to use the site for advertising.

    My questions are:

    A) Can a company use the phrase former when they know the site was no longer suitable? In my opinion this statement was misleading..

    B) The local council failed to document the enforcement on their search, is this negligence?

    I will be grateful for your opinions on this matter..

    Thanks

    1. Thank you for your comment.

      We are not so sure that there is a misrepresentation claim here. There is a case called Atlantic Estates Ltd v Ezekiel (1991) which we refer to in our blog on property misrepresentation claims in practice. In that particular case the auction pack described the property as a wine bar and showed photographs of it in use. It transpired that the bar itself did not have a licence and therefore could not be used as a wine bar. The Court considered this a misrepresentation.

      However, that case could arguably be distinguished from your current matter insofar as the words “former” were used to describe the property. A “former wine bar” or “former advertising site” would necessarily imply that the property is no longer being used as such. It may be a push to suggest that this is misleading. The inclusion of the word “former” is probably sufficient to inform any prospective bidder that the property is no longer used in the same way as it was previously. Therefore it may be a step too far for the Court to find that this implicitly suggested that the property may be used in the same way again.

      As for the search results, we are surprised to hear that enforcement notices were not identified in them. It may be the case that the enforcement notice is included elsewhere in searches and that you were only provided with an extract from it. If this was the case then perhaps there is some misleading statement of fact to the extent that the full situation was not made known to you and the information provided was factually inaccurate as a result.

      Sometimes third parties can be held liable for negligent misstatements or misrepresentations. Ordinarily what is set out would need to be deliberately aimed at a class of people. In this matter, that class would presumably be all purchasers intending to rely on the search.

      It is not uncommon for solicitors to purchase search results rather than their client incurring the cost of a new one. Provided that the client is made aware that the search is old and may not identify more contemporaneous or recent matters, there is no harm in this. Therefore there may be some scope (although we suggest this tentatively) to say that the search provider may have made a mistake and you have suffered a loss as a result, being within the class of individual entitled to rely on it.

      As for the Council itself, whether or not they can be held liable for failing to record information which should have appeared in a search is again something which we are unable to provide any specific advice on at this stage. There is an outside possibility that the Council is in breach of its statutory duty to record data and information properly, if this is what has happened. Whether or not this entitles someone to take action depends very much on whether or not the relevant Act of Parliament envisages a claim for compensation.

      Unfortunately we are unable to provide specific advice on our website. We are only able to provide general guidance. If you would like to consider the matter in more detail with us, please do feel free to get in touch.

    1. Thank you for your comment.

      Broadly, the Limitation Act 1980 sets out deadlines (called limitation periods), for the vast majority of claims which can be pursued in England and Wales.

      For misrepresentation claims, the normal limitation period would be six years from the date that the claim (called a cause of action) arose. This would most likely be six years from exchange of contracts on the basis that the misrepresentation which induced you into the contract but which was factually inaccurate, caused you a loss when you committed and entered into the contract. This would be the date that the damage was caused, as you would have agreed to purchase a property which had defects and which might have had an impact on its true value. Whether or not a cause of action arose in a property misrepresentation claim at the point of exchange of contracts or completion was the issue in the case of Green v Eadie [2011] EWHC B24 (Ch). In some cases, this limitation period might be capable of being extended to three years from the date that the purchaser should have become aware of the misrepresentation.

  8. Hi
    We pulled out of a property purchase just before exchange due to misrepresentation by the vendor /agent (property land was 3 acres short and the location of a footpath was hidden and misdescribed. We had to let down our own purchasers as a result and we have legal fees and other financial losses to cover as a result. Are we able to claim compensation ?

    1. Thank you for your comment.

      The short answer is that there is no real way to claim any losses arising from an abortive property transaction until exchange of contracts take place. Until exchange of contracts, which is when a contract comes into existence, there is no contract in place for the parties to be in breach of. For the purposes of a misrepresentation claim, it cannot be said that an aggrieved party relied on the inaccurate information given by the other party when entering into a contract if no contract was ever entered into.

  9. Hi!
    I have been to a local solicitor in the past regarding a flat I purchased 4 years ago. They weren’t very helpful as they were not sure whether it would be a case against the landlord that owned the flat downstairs where there is trouble tenants. Or whether I could have a case against the sellers. I don’t have much to go on there at the time other than I knew there had been past disputes with problem tenants in the flat downstairs.
    However I am still having these ongoing issues (currently it is an alcoholic that is up all night and general nuisance). And due to this I have just been told by the landlord that owns it that the sellers had the council involved in the past disputes and were told the property has very poor sound insulation. Is this something that should have been declared when they sold to me? I specifically asked them if the flat was quiet and they told me “yes very”. I never would have gone ahead knowing about poor sound insulation and problem tenants over the years. I have been off work with stress. I feel ill and depressed m I feel like I would lose money if I try to sell (I am currently in dispute due to problem tenant downstairs). The main problem is I don’t know if I can proceed with legal case against the sellers. This feels like new evidence even though it has been 4 years. Would I have a case? Any advice greatly appreciated!
    Thank you for your time.

    Regards

    Kate Laing

    1. Thank you for your comment Kate and we are sorry to hear of this.

      We are afraid that we cannot give anything but general guidance on our website, primarily for the fact that without considering the position in detail with our clients, we cannot give accurate advice.

      The chances are that if you were given the express representation that the flat was quiet and there were no disputes with neighbours, then there may be a claim for misrepresentation so far as it can be proved that this was not the case.

      You may also have a claim against the freehold owner under the terms of your lease. Long leases will invariably contain clauses requiring the lessee not to cause a nuisance to other owners and these are normally mutually enforceable.

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