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Property misrepresentation

(56 Posts)
HolaWeenie Fri 13-May-16 21:18:54

Evening all, I believe we have a claim under property misrepresentation.

We purchased our home in February this year, in March my new neighbour told me Japanese knotweed had grown on the small bit of land down the side of our house (it's detached). Nothing was there and he said maybe they treated it.

April comes and I take another peak and sure enough I see knotweed shoots emerging.

We commissioned a JK specialist to assess and to outline an eradication plan including a 10yr guaranteed insurance policy, total cost £1500. He confirmed its 2-3yrs old, it's been treated (prob sprayed with weed killer only) as some shoots are in poor health, dead canes from previous year removed from the site except a few, and a heavy duty weed membrane had been laid and the 100m of shingle on top. That proves previous owner new something nasty was growing.

On the TA6 (property information form) there's a specific question relating to JK, the previous owners stated there's no problem with JK at the property.

My neighbour has provided a signed statement, which confirms he told them it was Japanese knotweed on several occasions and told them how nasty it is.

So I package that all up, the JK surveyors report, the TA6 form and the witness statement and emailed it to the previous owners conveyancing solicitor.

They responded saying they'll notify their client but they're not willing to correspond with me unless instructed to do so.

So is that it then!? Because surely the previous owners will just not instruct the solicitor (as it will cost them), where do we go from here!?!

HolaWeenie Fri 13-May-16 21:28:48

Should have said we're claiming for the cost of the eradication plan, £1500.

caroldecker Fri 13-May-16 21:49:05

Small claims court

Collaborate Fri 13-May-16 22:43:34

They do not have to instruct a solicitor, and their refusal to do so should not alter your plan to hold them to account. Why would you think it should?

HolaWeenie Sat 14-May-16 08:49:21

Thank you, there's very little guidance on what to do, so I really didn't know the best route to follow. So I'll give them a week and then issue it to small claims. Does that sound right?

HolaWeenie Sat 14-May-16 08:52:03

Also for £1500, I certainly don't want to incur costs pursuing this. I just want them to pay for what they should have paid for in the first place. In fact had they declared the JK we wouldn't have proceeded with the purchase, their cover up took that choice away from us and now we have a valueless property at worst and a property tainted with knotweed at best, it hits the resale value hard and it's certainly not worth the price we paid for it.

RayofFuckingSunshine Sat 14-May-16 08:56:18

Give your house insurance a call, it's likely you have legal cover and they can advise properly and probably deal with it, because frankly I would be claiming for more than the removal of the JK, it will effect your property value as I think you will still have to declare it if and when you sell.

HolaWeenie Sat 14-May-16 09:01:51

I have heard you can claim for the cost of the difference in value and my DH is sorely tempted.

The thing is, we may well be awarded an amount of money, extracting the money is another issue.

HolaWeenie Sat 14-May-16 09:04:03

Also, I believe that after you follow the 4y eradication plan and the 10yr guarantee period expires and you experience no regrowth then you no longer have to declare the presence.

This is our forever home now, if we had to sell it wouldn't be through our choice, I hope to be here right up until I'm old and decrepit!

TheCrowFromBelow Sat 14-May-16 09:17:12

Send what you sent to the vendor's solicitor to the estate agent that you bought through as well.
what type of survey did you have? if there are dead canes, were they visible and if so should the surveyor have spotted them?

gingeroots Sat 14-May-16 09:29:24

They do not have to instruct a solicitor, and their refusal to do so should not alter your plan to hold them to account. Why would you think it should?

Could you explain more about this Collaborate ?

If person A wants to argue legally with person B but person B refuses to answer how can the dispute be resolved ? How is this type of situation dealt with ? Is there some kind of legal process which can force a response from a party who is not engaging ?

I know of 3 cases where the other side is just not responding with the result that person A is running up legal fees with their solicitor wrting letters .It's almost like person B is counting on this .My head tells me there has to be a way of overcoming this .

HolaWeenie Sat 14-May-16 09:48:26

We had a homebuyers report. The strip of land is just about wide enough to fit one and a half people down, it's gated and we never use it as on the other side of the house is a large car port with access from front to back of house. Also there was so much rubbish left in the garden and on this small strip, litter, old toys, tools, homewares like blinds etc, that you couldn't see the few old canes, lots of leaves too. So I'm unsure we could get our surveyor on negligence.

Ginger, you put it better than me, that's what I don't want to get into, them just ignoring us and us wracking up ££ to pursue it.

caroldecker Sat 14-May-16 11:49:56

Ginger if person B refuses to respond, you go to court and win the case as no defence is offered. The court then enforces the result (through baliffs etc)

Hola You need to write to the sellers, not their solicitor. It is up to them to respond, with or without legal assistance.

gingeroots Sat 14-May-16 11:59:56

oh ,I see .Simple as that shock

I guess person A has to show that they've made effort(s) to put their case to person B ? Would you know what would be considered reasonable with regard to that ?

HolaWeenie Sat 14-May-16 12:58:06

Thank you. The solicitors have passed on my correspondence to the sellers. I will wait a week and then take it to small claims court. Thank you

Rangirl Sat 14-May-16 13:03:51

Have you taken your own legal advice No court case is ever 100% black and White These type of cases can be tricky

HolaWeenie Sat 14-May-16 14:04:46

No, no legal advice sought. It's £1500, I don't want to incur costs on this.

I hear what you're saying, things might not be straight forward, but at the moment the facts are there, they denied there was JK, we've found some a mere two months after moving in, specialist confirms previous interference, so they knew something was growing there and neighbours statement shows they were told it is knotweed, he showed them a press clipping with photos! I'm hoping all that is enough.

SewSlapdash Sat 14-May-16 14:09:27

Op I think you need to give it more than a week. It could take a week for the papers to be passed on and read. Then another week for them to instruct a solicitor if they choose to do so. Standard pre-action protocols for other types of court cases allow 21 days to respond; that would be reasonable.

kirinm Sat 14-May-16 14:52:27

But it isn't necessarily only £1500. You need a surveyor to re-value the house and establish if the JK diminishes the value of the property and if so, by how much. What you could potentially sue for is the diminution of value i.e. difference between sake value and current value.

kirinm Sat 14-May-16 14:56:45

https://www.justice.gov.uk/courts/procedure-rules/civil/rules/pdpre-actionn_conduct

This is the pre-action protocol you'd be expected to follow - I think even as a litigant in person but your loss is potentially a great deal more than £1500 and I would strongly recommend getting some advice from a solicitor before you start court proceedings. You only have one opportunity to start court proceedings so if you later find your house is worth less even with the JK being treated, you won't be able to sue again.

Many people walk away from places with JK even if it has been treated. I think your loss is more significant than you think.

kirinm Sat 14-May-16 15:03:24

Sorry I hadn't read the thread properly and realise others have commented about diminution in value.

Never mind about having problems getting the money. They have a house, you can apply to put a charge on it or force them to sell it. I know that sounds pretty harsh but you aren't talking about a little sum of money here.

kirinm Sat 14-May-16 15:07:14

I'm a lawyer and I'm just thinking out loud but this could effect your buildings insurance and perhaps even your mortgage. I know some lenders won't lend where JK is growing.

Check your insurance and get a lawyer.

Spickle Sat 14-May-16 15:21:30

Maybe you should have sent your "package" of evidence to the solicitor who acted for you in your purchase, rather than the seller's solicitor. He may have been more inclined to advise and help as you were previously his client whereas the seller's solicitor acted for the seller. Hopefully you will get a response from the sellers in any case but I can't help thinking that if the bundle of evidence had come from your own solicitor who acted for you in your purchase, rather than from you, it would have thrown a little more weight behind it. Good luck anyway - it's really sneaky to have lied on the PIF about something like this.

HolaWeenie Sat 14-May-16 22:14:48

Thank you all. I do realise how serious this could be, I'm just thinking that we expect to live here until we downsize in retirement, so I'm trying to ignore the depreciation in value, once we eradicate the JK and live without any regrowth for 10yrs, we won't have to declare it. However, I know that life can be a real shit and something might happen that would force us to sell before then.

According to my JK specialist, years ago lenders would just say a big fat no to anyone wanting to get a mortgage on a property with JK, however as now over 5% of housing stock has JK they had to take a different stance, so people like my JK specialist who's affiliated with the Property Care Association, are asked to asses and advise, basically if you have followed an eradication plan and have the 10yr insured guarantee most lenders are happy to proceed. But you're all correct people aren't educated about it and would run a mile should the learn about the JK, we certainly would of.

It gets messier...the previous owners are divorced. But they both walked away with a considerable sum each (enough for one of them to be mortgage free at next property). So extracting money will be a challenge.

kirinm Sat 14-May-16 22:25:20

Have you notified your insurers? If it were to cause any damage to the property in the future it might not be covered if you don't tell then you've found it, now. I'd definitely recommend notifying them.

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