QUESTION: I’ve just bought a house and was told in the legal forms that the boiler was in working order and had recently been serviced. I couldn’t get it to work and now, after getting a gas safe engineer to come and look at it, I am told it is broken and hasn’t been serviced in ages. Is there anything I can do?
ANSWER: The principle caveat emptor, meaning buyer beware, applies when buying property. There is no onus on the seller to disclose physical defects.
The legal form would have been the Law Society Property Information Form which, prior to exchange of contracts, should have been completed by the seller. Your solicitor should have forwarded a copy to you. Section 12.3 of the form relates to central heating and asks the seller to confirm such matters as when the system was installed, last serviced or maintained, and also requests a copy of the inspection report.
The system was supposedly serviced recently, so your solicitor should have requested a copy of the relevant inspection report. If unavailable, further enquiries could have been made regarding the apparent servicing — for example, who carried it out. Indeed, you could have chosen to organise your own boiler inspection prior to exchange of contracts.
Check the information, documentation and advice provided by your solicitor prior to exchange of contracts and revisit any survey you might have had, to see if the boiler condition was mentioned. You could have a claim against the seller if it appears they misrepresented the situation.
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We regret that questions cannot be answered individually, but we will try to feature them here. Fiona McNulty is a legal director in the private wealth group of Foot Anstey.