Fraud property purchase? – Defects not known to the seller

Fraud property purchase? – Defects not known to the seller

10:59 AM, 15th January 2021, About 5 months ago 4

Text Size

I am selling up and last year I sold a flat and made the leasehold a shared freehold. The buyer had a survey done in March, and it showed up some works to be completed. He never told me of this survey nor its contents.

The property completed in May. In November, during discussions with him over the renewal for the building Insurance, (which I had not charged him for since his purchase) he brought up the defects from his survey. Mainly the roof repairs. He offered to pay for these if I allowed him to put Velux windows in the roof. I agreed.

However, I did ask as to why he had knowingly bought the flat in the full knowledge of these repairs being required. He then changed his mind and said I had to pay for 50% of the cost of the repairs as per the shared freehold agreement. He had already had quotes. 3 of them and was keen to go with one company. He gave me 10 days to get my quotes but said I could not use anyone I knew as (his words) ” I would bung them a ton and split the difference of a higher cost for the job”.

OK I agreed but then in less than 24 hours, he said it was taking too long and the roof was dangerous (suddenly it was dangerous to his girlfriend and him after living there 6 months!! Ignore the danger to my tenants as I was unaware of this for the last 25 years!!) and he had made an executive decision to use his favoured company. He also contacted the Council Building Control, and they confirmed chimney work was required in the roof to support the chimneys. Actually, I got them out that evening. He posted notices on his door. I was trying to sell the lower flat. I still am.

To cut to the chase he got the work done. He wanted paying. I said I would subject to Council Building Control signing of the work and proof he had paid them. He jumped the gun and went for a Small Claims action before the Council signed off the work. The council now have. There are other issues (all acrimonious and not related) but all not related to the main question for which I would value some advice.
Is it legal or reasonable for a person to buy a property in the full knowledge that they are buying it with known defects?

Defects not known to the seller. Then 6 months later, claim these defects are life-threatening, get the work done, and then expect the shared freeholder to pay 50% for the repairs? Is there a property case law? Is there a consumer law precedent?

I do not understand why he did not ask for the work to be done before completion? Nor why he bought the flat with some serious known defects. I have no problem accepting my responsibility to pay 50% of repairs in the future but these were known only to him before completion?

My gut reaction is that I should not be liable as he has knowingly accepted the defects therefore he is fully liable as I was not informed before the sale. Any comments?

Meanwhile, I am still selling the flat downstairs so it’s not in my best interest to ‘rock the boat’ too much. He has informed my selling agent that there are debts on the flat and the buyer needs to be made aware.

This was even before work commenced – as he wanted to buy the flat but and had put in a very low offer – which I have refused.

Graham



Comments

by Smartermind

16:48 PM, 15th January 2021, About 5 months ago

Not a lawyer, but expressing my opinion as a lay person.

You ask "Is it legal or reasonable for a person to buy a property in the full knowledge that they are buying it with known defects?"

I would hazard a guess that if someone wants to buy a lemon, then there is nothing to stop them. It can't be "illegal". However, it would be illegal to sell something with a known defect and not declare it.

Really the onus was on you to get your own survey done so you knew what you were selling. Whether he can now make a claim against you now having accepted the defects is another matter and only a lawyer can answer that. But it would appear that you are 50% liable in any case because of the joint freehold, irrespective of whether the buyer knew or not.

by Seething Landlord

23:24 PM, 15th January 2021, About 5 months ago

Presumably the work needed doing and if you had known about it prior to the sale you would have had to bear the full cost. Unless I have missed something you have benefited by half the cost being paid by the purchaser, so what are you complaining about?

by Jessie Jones

9:50 AM, 16th January 2021, About 5 months ago

I would look at the shared freehold agreement and see what it says. I hope that you had this drawn up by a solicitor.
It's perfectly fine for someone to sell a property with defects. This happens all the time, for example where a builder buys a tired old building and refurbishes it to sell on. They never know what they are going to uncover, and it is a case of 'buyer beware'. In your case, the buyer had a survey done so was either aware of the problem or should have been.
However, your leasehold / shared freehold agreement will hopefully say who is responsible for what.

by Kate Mellor

13:49 PM, 16th January 2021, About 5 months ago

It sounds as though your purchaser is being awkward because he hopes to buy the other flat. There is no issue with him deciding to purchase the flat with roof issues although it is a little odd that he would do so when he could have insisted you do the work first. Perhaps he didn’t wish to delay the sale. As has been pointed out, that has been in your favour. As far as the later behaviour in terms of having the work done without allowing you the opportunity to get your own quotes, that will come down to the wording of your lease and how reasonable it was given the urgency of the work. The fact that he was in occupation and therefore potentially endangered will be in his favour. Whilst I understand your desire to ensure the work had been properly carried out before paying, if the joint freeholder had already paid the contractor in full he’s not going to be happy to wait. Basically, you’ve now been satisfied that the job has passed building regs, so unless you feel the cost was substantially more than it should have been (and frankly we would need to talking about more than double to make it worth your while to quibble), then you really have no reason not to hurry up and pay him and get on with your life and the sale of your other flat. The joint freeholder will be happy to make it harder for you to find another buyer if he can. He’s already told your agent you owe him money, next he’ll tell them you have a neighbour dispute with him which the agent is bound by law to disclose to any potential buyers. They won’t want to live in close confines to a difficult person.

So, pay the man. Do so with a smile and thank him for organising the work so efficiently. Apologise for your delay in getting him the money and keep quiet about your true feelings of irritation. Don’t give him ammunition to be difficult & just hope he doesn’t play loud music during viewings.


Leave Comments

Please Log-In OR Become a member to reply to comments or subscribe to new comment notifications.

Forgotten your password?

BECOME A MEMBER