Caveat Emptor to disappear as sellers face imprisonment for not disclosing information that may affect the decision of any potential buyers


Sellers and estate agents are now required to inform any prospective purchasers of any information that may affect the value of the house. This can include any structural defects and / or information about previous sales that fell through.

As well as this, sellers will be strongly enforced to disclose information about problematic neighbours, such as ones that throw the occasional noisy bash.

Jeremy Raj of law firm Wedlake Bell says:

“Gone is the principle of caveat emptor, or buyer beware. This puts the onus on the buyer to uncover any potential problems…”

“…if the seller or the agent has any information that is likely to have an impact on the value of a property or the buyer’s enjoyment of the property, they must disclose it.”

Previously, the Property Misdescriptions Act had applied to property sales and prevented sellers and estate agents from making any incorrect or misleading statements. However, recent regulatory changes have resulted in property sales being brought under the Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations which requires traders to disclose everything that could affect a buyer’s decision.

Mr Raj explained:

“This could include information unearthed by a previous buyer who had a survey done,” he said. “If it showed there were problems and the sale fell through, the seller would be required to disclose those issues to any future potential buyers.”

Serious consequences may result if an estate agent fails to disclose any information which is later discovered by the buyer, with a prison sentence of 2 years being possible. If the seller is at fault for not disclosing the information to the agent, the same punishment may be enforced.

Therefore, whether buying or selling a property, it would be wise to get a survey from a local chartered surveyor who will be able to highlight any possible defects that may affect a property sale. Missing them could mean jail time.

Find your local chartered surveyor for professional, no obligation advice at

BT                                                                                                                   4.6.14

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