Question: Our managing agent told us at our residents' meeting that we are not required to declare "historic" legal disputes, or even a First-tier Tribunal decision from only three months ago, to prospective buyers. We are selling our flat — but he didn't say what constitutes historic. Can you help?
Answer: If A seller fails to disclose information to a buyer, the buyer could rescind the contract and claim damages. There may also be a claim for misrepresentation as non-disclosure effectively amounts to misrepresentation by silence.
A seller should complete a property information form and, if the property is leasehold, a leasehold information form. The answers given in both forms must be accurate. The second page of the property information form carries a list of instructions to help the seller complete it. One of these instructions is a reminder that the seller's answers must be accurate, and it mentions that if they are not, there could be a claim for compensation. There is also a section about disputes and complaints.
The leasehold information form asks, for example, for copies of any correspondence from the landlord, management company and managing agent, and also asks if the seller knows of any problems in the last three years regarding the level of service charge, about challenges in relation to the service charge, or difficulties in collecting the charge from other flat owners.
A buyer's solicitor should raise enquiries of the freeholder or managing agents which would normally include questions about disputes past or current.
Clearly, you should disclose the information you have about the disputes and provide copies of any relevant notices or correspondence.
What's your problem? If you have a question for Fiona McNulty, please email email@example.com or write to Legal Solutions, Homes & Property, London Evening Standard, 2 Derry Street, W8 5EE. We regret that questions cannot be answered individually but we will try to feature them here. Fiona McNulty is a partner in the residential property, farms and estates team at Withy King LLP (withyking.co.uk).