Heated row over who pays to fix boiler
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.