The importance of completing the Property Information Form correctly
As part of the conveyancing process when selling your property you will be required to complete a Property Information Form, also referred to as Form TA6, which gives vital up-front information to your buyer about the property. The form itself is relatively substantial, it is 16 pages long and divided into 14 sections. The subjects covered include information about the boundaries, whether there have been any disputes, whether any alterations to the property have taken place and also questions on environmental matters to name but a few.
The questions are raised and you simply have to tick a box as to whether the response is “yes” “no” or “don’t know” with an option of adding some additional comments if necessary, therefore completing the form is relatively easy, however, you must allow yourself plenty of time to complete it as you may need to locate paperwork, such as guarantees, planning permissions, building regulation approvals and installation certificates to accompany the answers. It is vitally important that you do not treat the completion of the form as merely a “ticking box” exercise because your buyer will rely on this information to decide whether or not to proceed with the purchase. Your answers must be given as accurately and truthfully as you possibly can. Guessing at any missing information, leaving details out or providing misleading responses could lead to your buyers bringing a court action against you for misrepresentation.
In a recent court case, a buyer successfully sued the seller after he found Japanese Knotweed behind the garden shed. The seller had replied “no” to the question asking if the property had been affected by knotweed and argued that he “reasonably believed” he was telling the truth when he did so as a large bush had obscured the knotweed. (The buyer actually found the knotweed after cutting down the bush) The seller added that at the time of his purchase 3 years earlier, the previous owners were unaware of its presence, none of his neighbours had it in their gardens, and his surveyor also didn’t discover it. The Judge, however, threw out this defence and based his finding on a report from an expert stating that the knotweed had previously been up to 2 metres high and there was evidence that it had been treated with herbicide in the past. He also took into account the buyer’s evidence that had the seller declared it was “not known” whether the property was affected by Japanese knotweed he would have looked into the matter further.
The lesson to be gained from this case is therefore to consider each question carefully, answer it truthfully, to the best of your ability and remember when you give a definite answer of “yes or “no” then your buyer will rely on it and you will be liable for your response even if the answer is innocently given.
You must also remember to update the buyer if any of your responses change during the course of the transaction.
If you are not sure how to answer any of the questions then you should always speak to your solicitor before submitting the form to your buyers.
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