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As a seller, you might be wondering whether you need to legally disclose anything when selling a property. The answer is yes, you are legally obligated to disclose all known information about the property to potential buyers, both positive and negative. 

Whilst it might be tempting to only disclose positive information about a property to encourage buyers to make an offer, keeping information hidden from interested buyers is not permitted under law and there could be both legal and financial repercussions for not being honest. 

Your estate agent will plan to work with you to communicate issues to potential purchasers early in the process to ensure any sale that is agreed is done so on the basis of good information for both parties, but this will then be formalised through the conveyancing process to ensure your obligations as a seller are fulfilled and the buyer’s rights protected. 

In this article we go into further detail about what needs to be disclosed when selling a house, including the most important issues. 

What Do House Sellers Have to Disclose? 

The main point to bear in mind is that you need to be honest and disclose all known information about the property, both positive and negative. Secrecy and deceit are not permitted under any circumstances and may even lead to prosecution. 

Practically speaking, information about the property is disclosed in the Property Information Form (TA6), which is explained in further detail below. 

What is the Caveat Emptor? 

For many years, it was the buyer’s responsibility to investigate all aspects of the property and uncover any potential issues. This was known as the principle of ‘caveat emptor’, or ‘buyer beware’. Effectively, caveat emptor meant that the seller was not legally required to disclose any known or unknown defects in the property, as it was the buyer’s responsibility to uncover this information. 

However, selling a property now falls under the Consumer Protection Against Unfair Trading Regulations. This effectively reversed the responsibility to the seller to disclose anything which may impact the buyer’s decision to proceed with purchasing the property. If a seller knowingly doesn’t disclose anything of importance that they are aware of, they could even face prosecution. 

The Property Information Form (TA6) 

Anyone who is in the process of selling a house will know that a number of forms need to be filled-in. One of the most important forms is the Property Information Form (TA6), which is usually sent to the seller’s solicitor from the buyer’s solicitor. The TA6 form plays a crucial role in the selling process. 

The TA6 form requires sellers to give details about the property under different categories. Some of the categories included in the Property Information Form are: 

  • Information on property boundaries, including boundary features 
  • Shared areas with neighbours (both informal and formal agreements) 
  • Changes made to the property, including extensions and other alterations. This includes planning permission details and building control completion certificates 
  • Guarantees and warranties which affect the property  
  • Disputes or complaints made by the seller towards neighbours, or from neighbours about the seller. This includes disputes with neighbours who are not adjacent to the property 
  • Details of the occupiers of the property 
  • Environmental matters 
  • Building insurance details 
  • Any known structural issues concerning the property 
  • Proposals for nearby development and construction (if applicable) 
  • Any known burglaries in the neighbourhood 
  • Council tax 
  • Connection to utilities and other services 
  • Services, including electricity, central heating, drainage and sewage 

It is extremely important for sellers to disclose all the information which they are aware of in the TA6 form. Honesty is the best policy here to ensure that you do not encounter avoidable problems during and after the signing of the contract.  

As we alluded to above, a buyer could potentially sue you if you lie or deliberately conceal important information about the house. The TA6 form is usually the document which a buyer will refer to if they decide to press charges against you, which makes filling it out with honesty and to the best of your knowledge imperative.  

An interested buyer and their solicitor will react favourably if you are transparent about the house and the issues it has. In fact, giving limited details about problems with the house is likely to arouse suspicion in the buyer’s solicitor.  

Also, if the buyer discovers problems prior to the completion of the sale, they may demand that you reduce the price of the property or pay for the problem to be fixed. 

The Law Society has published extremely helpful notes to help sellers understand the form and explain the legal concepts. The Law Society’s TA6 form, and explanatory notes can be found here 

What Are the Most Important Issues to Disclose? 

Even if you think disclosing certain information may harm your chances of selling your house, it is extremely important to provide all relevant information. After all, failure to do so could result in legal action being taken against you. 

Important and relevant issues which need disclosing are: 

  • Flooding issues, whether current or historic 
  • Any known structural issues concerning the property 
  • Proposals for nearby development and construction (if applicable) 
  • A planned flight path nearby or one which is planned 
  • A motorway within view or one which is planned 
  • Problems with pests 
  • Problems with Japanese knotweed 
  • Previous sales which have fallen through 
  • Neighbours who have anti-social behaviour orders (ASBOs)  
  • Any known burglaries in the neighbourhood 
  • A neighbourhood which has high levels of crime 
  • A violent death which occurred at the property 

We advise that you speak to a solicitor if you are in any doubt about what you need to disclose. Our expert conveyancing partners, Legally Prepared, will help to ensure that your conveyancer solicitor has all the information they need to advise you. 

Is It Necessary to Disclose Information About Neighbours? 

The TA6 form will ask for details concerning your neighbours and your relations with them. Unsurprisingly, any buyer will be interested in their potential new neighbours, and it is your responsibility to disclose all relevant and important information. 

It might be tempting to not reveal all the details about your neighbours. Perhaps you have been involved in a dispute with your neighbours around boundaries, or you have made several complaints about the noise they make. This is the type of information which you must disclose on the TA6 form, even if you think it might discourage buyers from making a bid on your house. 

Keep in mind that if you have not been fully transparent or lied about your neighbours and certain information comes to light, the buyer may choose to seek legal regress.   

If you had disputes with neighbours which have since been resolved, this should also be disclosed. You can show potential buyers any written correspondence which demonstrates that these issues have been resolved.  

Do I Need to Complete the TA6 Form? 

Filling out the TA6 form is generally considered a standard part of the conveyancing process. Whilst it is not a legal requirement to complete the form, almost all conveyancing solicitors will insist that you do. If you decide not to complete the form, the buyer’s solicitor will be asking questions and expecting answers anyway. 

Whilst you might prefer to keep certain things quiet, it will become obvious that there is something to hide if you avoid giving answers to reasonable and expected questions. The buyer’s solicitor may advise the buyer to not proceed with the sale in these circumstances. 

Also, if the buyer suspects that you are hiding something important, they may decide to gazunder you or pull out of the deal completely.  

It is worth keeping in mind too that a buyer can bring a claim against you for not disclosing problems with the property for up to six years after the sale, so honesty really is the best policy here.  

Are Buyers Less Likely to Purchase the House if There Are Issues? 

As a seller, it is worth keeping in mind that an issue which you may think could dissuade a buyer, may actually not be a concern for them. For example, perhaps the street you live on often gets noisy with children playing. If the potential buyer has their own young children, they are likely to think that this is in fact a positive rather than a negative. 

However, more fundamental issues such as structural problems could make the house more difficult to sell. There is no getting around these more serious issues, as they need to be disclosed. During the standard conveyancing process, the fundamental issues with the property will be revealed too. Read more information around why a house might not be selling

If handled correctly and in an upfront way as part of the initial marketing of the property then our purchaser can be guided by the estate agent to understand the issues, make necessary investigations. You can then be more confident that any sale agreed will be more likely to progress successfully with no hidden problems coming to light later down the line and scaring off the purchaser when cost have been incurred. 

How Can I Reassure Potential Buyers? 

Providing evidence demonstrating that issues have been resolved will provide reassurance to buyers.  

If you have mentioned a historic issue with the property which has since been resolved, you can demonstrate that the issues have been resolved through providing paperwork. For example, if there were problems with mould in the property, you can produce paperwork which shows that remedial measures were taken to remove the mould permanently.  

Even if there are issues with the house you are selling, it is worth keeping in mind that almost every house and property will have some underlying negative issues. If you have provided all the information concerning the property to the buyer and provided reassurance where you can, it is ultimately up to the buyer to decide whether they go ahead with the purchase or look elsewhere. 

Enjoy Outstanding Service with Chancellors 

If you are thinking about selling your home, we can help. Chancellors is a leading estate and lettings agents with an extensive network of branches covering Berkshire, Buckinghamshire, Oxfordshire, Hampshire, Surrey, London, Herefordshire, Wiltshire and Mid Wales. 

We are passionate about the work we do and pride ourselves on delivering an exceptional level of service. We can help you to attract the perfect buyer to purchase your house, providing invaluable guidance and assistance to secure the sale.  

To find out more about how we can help you to sell your house or if you have any other questions, please do not hesitate to get in contact with us today. You may also benefit from our specialist resource centre which contains useful information for sellers.