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Once called a Sellers Property Information Form but now known as a Property Information Form it is a form completed by the sellers and is relied upon by the Buyers. Sellers must complete the form as accurately and thoroughly as possible as Buyers may claim compensation if information is incomplete or inaccurate. Sellers however, are not expected to have expert knowledge.
An example of how important the answers are in this form are reported in a transaction that took place a few years ago. In 2018 a buyer purchased a house for £700k. Whilst the buyer was tidying the garden, he discovered Japanese Knotweed canes behind a large St John’s Wort bush which was growing next to the shed.
For those that do not know, Japanese Knotwood is a perennial weed. It is an invasive species which spreads very quickly. This causes damage buildings and it is very difficult and expensive to try and get rid of. It is thought to have been introduced to Britain as an ornamental garden plant but it is now an invasive non-native species which is covered in legislation. For example, it is an offence under the provisions within Schedule 9 of the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 to cause it to grow in the wild. It has also been included within the Property Information Form since 2013.
In this case, the buyer sued the seller for damages for misrepresentation as the seller had ticked “no” to the weed affecting the Property.
The case was outlined at Central London County Court. An expert said that it was likely the weed had probably been in the garden since at least 2012. The seller had moved in in 2015 and sold it to the buyer in 2018.
The seller could have ticked “yes” “no” or “not known” but by ticking “no” the seller was considered to have chosen to confirm there was no Knotweed at the Property and therefore made a misrepresentation.
The buyer sued for £32k to cover the costs of the investigation, the removal as well as the diminution of the value of the home caused by the knotweed.
The seller argued that he had lived there for 3 years and had never noticed it, he also undertook a Survey when he purchased and nothing was highlighted and none of the previous owners had raised it. There was evidence however, that the weed had been treated with herbicide at some point in the past.
The seller was ordered to pay damages as well as the buyers legal fees as well as his own costs.
If you have any questions or unsure about the form, please do not hesitate to contact us. It is important that if you do not know the answer then you say so. There is a “not known” option to some of the questions.
What is equally as important is informing us (immediately) if you later become aware of any information which would alter your replies to this form.
If you need any assistance on completing your forms please contact a member of our team.