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About to exchange contracts on house but vendor has withheld information

(35 Posts)
Violetpostit Sat 12-Dec-15 19:09:33

Hi, I am buying a house that has an extension built right up to and in parts onto the boundary line with next door. Both are detached properties but this side extension goes up to the boundary and the guttering overhangs into next door.

We are about to exchange on Monday (!) and throughout the process I have asked lots of questions about this overhang. A land surveyor confirmed there was an overhang, and the neighbours expressed to the surveyor they would like it corrected in the future. In the meantime the vendor has stated on all forms and correspondence regarding the sale that he is not aware of any objection from the neighbours about the overhang.

I went to see the neighbours today to find out once and for all. It turns out they have discussed this before with the vendor, and in fact the vendor even had plans drawn up to scale back the extension. He has disclosed none of this!

Where does this leave us? Also what would be your next move in my position?

Basically, the vendor denies the overhang is a problem and has even provided a Statutory Declaration which states he has never received any correspondence objecting to the overhang. He has not mentioned whether he has had any verbal conversations objecting to the overhang which it seems he has.

Sallyhasleftthebuilding Sat 12-Dec-15 19:12:55

Can it be altered rather than scaled back? I would demamd tjese amswers and get it in writing before exchange. Put a time deadline on it.

SunnySomer Sat 12-Dec-15 19:15:26

You should talk to your solicitor. We had a similar situation (gutter overhang on boundary line), and although in our case the neighbour was happy to confirm in writing that there were no issues and eg he was prepared to allow us access to clean the gutter, we had to pay an indemnity.
Your solicitor needs to insist on one and delay exchange slightly.

SunnySomer Sat 12-Dec-15 19:16:18

(Sorry didn't clarify - we were the vendor not purchaser)

Enjolrass Sat 12-Dec-15 19:23:22

It depends on how far you are willing to push.

I was the vendor in this situation. It was slightly different.

Our property flooded before we bought it. The flood defences had been improved it was a risk anymore.

Every person that looked round was told personally by me or dh. The couple that bought it looked around twice. I showed them once and dh showed them the other. We both told them it flooded.
The day before exchange they said we hadn't told them (our solicitor had also confirmed it in working to theirs) and they wanted a full survey including having the walls drilled.

We had an offer on a new build if this survey went ahead we would lost the house we wanted.

So I told the solicitor to do one. I told them that I had made them aware of the flooding personally so had the solicitor and they were not drilling holes in my wall when they had 8 weeks to request it. Their solicitor tried saying 'but if the sale falls through you will lose your new house'

I explained we would lose it anyway and that his clients either exchanged or didn't. But if it didn't go ahead we weren't moving and I wouldn't sell the house.

And hour later it was confirmed they were going ahead.

What I am saying is are you willing to threaten to not go ahead and if you lost the house would it be the end of the world.

It wasn't for me, I was quite happy to stay put. I would have preferred to move but was happy to stay.

Are you 100% positive the neighbour has spoken to him. Maybe the neighbour is saying that so that they can try and force you to do the work.

Enjolrass Sat 12-Dec-15 19:24:05

wasn't a risk anymore

Violetpostit Sat 12-Dec-15 19:24:46

How much was the indemnity you paid?

If the extension is altered, the council could insist on removing it altogether because it should never have gone up in the first place. There is a rule (conservation area) that side extensions cannot be erected or something to that effect. So the risk is that we have to remove it completely.

I feel like the vendor has withheld this info. In the law society Property Information Form there is the following question to which he has replied 'No'.

Is the seller aware of anything which might lead to a dispute about the property of a property nearby?

Violetpostit Sat 12-Dec-15 19:27:44

I only have what the neighbour says at this point. In what respect could the neighbour force me to do the work by saying this now?

potap123 Sat 12-Dec-15 19:31:44

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Enjolrass Sat 12-Dec-15 19:32:06

Not legally force you.

But say you go ahead. He could start saying 'you need to get it sorted...I did make you aware I wanted it sorted before you bought so you knew it needed to be done'

If the vendor has a legal document saying he has never been told in writing, that's all he needs the neighbour could be lying. If he really had a problem why did he never follow it up in writing?

potap123 Sat 12-Dec-15 19:33:18

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Violetpostit Sat 12-Dec-15 19:36:22

Potap, because the neighbour made the surveyor aware of his request the vendor cannot get insurance for this either. The neighbour has been put on notice.

I don't really want to live next door to a neighbour who is pressuring me to make a change. Maybe we need to get in writing from them at this stage they are happy for everything to remain in place.

SocksRock Sat 12-Dec-15 19:39:36

We had a vendor that insisted there was no dispute with next door. Next door wrote to our solicitor saying that she disputed the position of the extension and wanted £30k in damages to settle. Luckily, we received the letter about half an hour before we were due to exchange contracts. We walked. Actually, we ran. Local gossip has it the vendors were practically homicidal with rage and the house remained on the market for a further 4 years. Closest escape ever.

But yes, the neighbour can force you to remove the gutter...

Bogeyface Sat 12-Dec-15 19:41:13

I would be looking for a different house tbh, as this has the potential to turn in to a massive problem.

Presumably you are paying more for the house on the basis of the extension, but you could end up being forced to tear it down, which will cost a fortune and you will not have what you paid for.

Then if the neighbour moves the issue could start up again. Not worth it imo.

Enjolrass Sat 12-Dec-15 19:43:35

To be honest I am with bogey unless you can get a legal document to say that it can stay indefinitely. But I don't know if you can. Even if you can would it be binding if the neighbours move.

Bogeyface Sat 12-Dec-15 19:46:20

Oh and I would be informing the EA why I was pulling out, so they know that there is an issue.

HungryHorace Sat 12-Dec-15 19:50:10

If the neighbour gave permission for it to be there I think you'd need something written into both title deeds confirming the existence of the agreement which would mean it would be binding no matter who owned the property. How much this would cost, and how long it would take, I've no idea (and I've never practised conveyancing, so I'm not even sure I've got this right!).

Violetpostit Sat 12-Dec-15 19:56:53

We would rather not walk away from the house because we have invested so much money in mortgage arrangement fees and surveyors fees including specialist surveys (the house is in a bad state of repair).

We spent all this money in good faith assuming the vendor was not withholding important info.

HungryHorace Sat 12-Dec-15 20:02:16

Your solicitor needs to write to the neighbour to find out their intentions then. Your next move once you have that knowledge will depend on what they say (i.e. vendor pays legal fees to have agreement cemented so it passes down the line when the properties sell, or a significant drop in asking price to reflect the costs of making good the fuck up).

MissTwister Sat 12-Dec-15 20:03:01

I wouldn't exchange. He is technically telling the truth but will leave you with an expensive problem. The cost of changing the extension needs to come off the cost of the property in my opinion

Bogeyface Sat 12-Dec-15 20:08:21

I realise that you have invested a lot, but how will you feel if you do have to take down the extension? How much money will that cost?

A couple of thousand now compared to potential tens of thousands later isnt a good bet imo.

museumum Sat 12-Dec-15 20:14:53

Can you agree to just bring the guttering in line with the wall? Guttering doesn't have to overhang. Get a quote, ask for that to come off the price you pay and get everyone to sign that this is agreeable?

Violetpostit Sat 12-Dec-15 20:17:33

Actually we're already in for tens of thousands. We really have had to spend a lot of money looking into how much the house would cost to make it habitable.

Violetpostit Sat 12-Dec-15 20:18:23

How would you bring the guttering in line with the wall out of interest?

MusterMark Sat 12-Dec-15 20:20:56

How long has it been since the extension was built?

It's hard to see how this situation came about because if the extension wall goes right up to the boundary, the foundations will be on the neighbour's land and therefore the party wall act should have been involved when it was being built.

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