Heated row over who pays to fix boiler

Evening Standard - West End Final Extra - ES Homes and Property - - Ask The Expert - Fiona McNulty

QWE SOLD our house about six months ago. Dur­ing the sale we be­came quite friendly with our buyer and told her where we were mov­ing. We were as­tounded to­day to re­ceive a let­ter from her say­ing the boiler had bro­ken down and we should pay the cost of the re­pair or pay for a new boiler, which­ever the gas­man said was needed. We won’t be do­ing so — but why does she think she can ask this of us?

AIF THE fault oc­curred with the boiler af­ter the prop­erty was sold and you were not aware of it, the re­spon­si­bil­ity for the re­pairs re­mains with the pur­chaser. How­ever, if you made any mis­rep­re­sen­ta­tions to your buyer about the boiler, she may have a right of ac­tion against you.

A mis­rep­re­sen­ta­tion oc­curs when one party makes an un­true state­ment of fact which in­duces an­other party to en­ter into a con­tract and that other party suf­fers loss as a re­sult.

When you were sell­ing your house your so­lic­i­tor should have asked you to fill in var­i­ous pro­to­col forms, one of which would have been the Law So­ci­ety Prop­erty In­for­ma­tion Form. Part of this form re­lates to cen­tral heat­ing and asks the seller to con­firm when the cen­tral heat­ing was in­stalled and last ser­viced or main­tained. You should have com­pleted this form and pro­vided your so­lic­i­tor with copies of any gas safe in­spec­tion and ser­vice records, and your so­lic­i­tor should have passed this doc­u­men­ta­tion to the buyer’s so­lic­i­tor. If you pro­vided ac­cu­rate in­for­ma­tion, your buyer is un­likely to suc­ceed with a claim against you for mis­rep­re­sen­ta­tion in re­la­tion to the boiler.

The prin­ci­ple “caveat emp­tor” mean­ing “buyer be­ware” ap­plies when buy­ing prop­erty. Your buyer could have had an in­de­pen­dent in­spec­tion car­ried out on the boiler. We re­gret that ques­tions can­not be an­swered in­di­vid­u­ally, but we will try to fea­ture them here. Fiona McNulty is a so­lic­i­tor spe­cial­is­ing in res­i­den­tial prop­erty.

QWE WANT to buy a new-build house but our friends are warn­ing us off. They say that they know peo­ple who have had aw­ful prob­lems with de­vel­op­ers. For ex­am­ple, you have to use the de­vel­oper’s so­lic­i­tors, they don’t do the snag­ging, the house is not ready on time, it’s dif­fi­cult to get a mort­gage for a new build, and so on. Do these things re­ally hap­pen?

ADO NOT al­low your friends to put you off buy­ing a new build if that is what you re­ally want to do. Prob­lems and is­sues can arise what­ever type of prop­erty you buy. You just need to en­sure they are man­aged and dealt with in the best pos­si­ble way.

You do not have to use the de­vel­oper’s so­lic­i­tors but can in­struct a so­lic­i­tor or law firm of your choice. The le­gal work in­volved in the pur­chase of a new-build prop­erty is of­ten com­plex — so do use a so­lic­i­tor ex­pe­ri­enced in deal­ing with the pur­chase of new-build homes.

Your so­lic­i­tor should en­sure the con­tract pro­tects you. For ex­am­ple, the points you men­tion can be cov­ered in the con­tract by in­clud­ing a long stop date in case the house is not phys­i­cally com­plete by the an­tic­i­pated com­ple­tion date, and a clause deal­ing with snag­ging af­ter com­ple­tion.

Lenders will pro­vide mort­gages for off-plan/new-build prop­er­ties although in gen­eral a mort­gage of­fer lasts for a fixed pe­riod of six months. This can be trou­ble­some if your new home is not phys­i­cally com­plete be­fore the mort­gage of­fer ex­pires. How­ever, some lenders will ex­tend a mort­gage of­fer sub­ject to a fi­nan­cial re­assess­ment.

WHAT’S YOUR PROB­LEM? IF YOU have a ques­tion for Fiona McNulty, please email legal­so­lu­[email protected] stan­dard.co.uk or write to Le­gal So­lu­tions, Homes & Prop­erty, Lon­don Evening Stan­dard, 2 Derry Street, W8 5EE.

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