Bought a House with Problems Not Disclosed? What to Do

Buying a house is one of the most significant financial decisions most people will make in their lifetime. However, it can become a source of stress and frustration if you discover problems with the property that were not disclosed by the seller. In the UK, there are specific steps you can take if you find yourself in this situation. This guide will cover your rights as a buyer, the legal obligations of the seller, and the practical steps you should take to address undisclosed problems.

Understanding Your Rights and the Seller’s Obligations

The Seller’s Obligations

In the UK, sellers are generally required to disclose any material issues with the property through the Property Information Form (TA6), which is part of the conveyancing process. This form asks the seller to provide information about various aspects of the property, including:

  • Boundary disputes
  • Planning permissions and building regulations
  • Alterations and extensions
  • Environmental matters
  • Known defects and repairs
  • Guarantees and warranties
  • Services (such as gas, electricity, and water)
  • Insurance claims and issues


If a seller fails to disclose significant issues, they may be guilty of misrepresentation. Misrepresentation occurs when false information is provided during the property transaction, either intentionally or negligently, and this information induces the buyer to enter into the contract. There are three types of misrepresentation:

  1. Fraudulent Misrepresentation: The seller knowingly or recklessly makes a false statement.
  2. Negligent Misrepresentation: The seller carelessly makes a false statement, having no reasonable grounds for believing it to be true.
  3. Innocent Misrepresentation: The seller makes a false statement believing it to be true and having reasonable grounds for this belief.

The Buyer’s Rights

As a buyer, you have several potential remedies if you discover that the seller failed to disclose problems with the property:

  1. Rescission: This cancels the contract, returning both parties to their pre-contractual positions. This is more common in cases of fraudulent or negligent misrepresentation.
  2. Damages: Compensation for any losses incurred as a result of the misrepresentation. This is available for all types of misrepresentation but is more common when rescission is not possible or practical.

Practical Steps to Take When Problems Are Discovered

Step 1: Gather Evidence

The first step is to gather as much evidence as possible regarding the problems you have discovered. This includes:

  • Photographs and videos of the issues
  • Professional inspection reports
  • Correspondence with the seller or estate agent
  • The Property Information Form (TA6)
  • Any warranties or guarantees related to the property

Step 2: Get a Professional Assessment

Hire a qualified surveyor or builder to assess the extent of the problems and provide a detailed report. This will help you understand the severity of the issues and the likely costs of repairs.

Step 3: Check Your Paperwork

Review all the documents related to your property purchase, including the Property Information Form (TA6), the survey report, and any correspondence with the seller or their estate agent. Look for any indications that the seller was aware of the issues and failed to disclose them.

Step 4: Contact the Seller

Contact the seller to inform them of the issues you have discovered. Provide copies of the professional assessment and any relevant evidence. Ask the seller to address the problems, either by paying for repairs or compensating you for the cost.

Step 5: Consult a Solicitor

If the seller is uncooperative or denies any responsibility, consult a solicitor who specializes in property law. They can advise you on the strength of your case and the best course of action. Your solicitor can help you determine whether you have a case for misrepresentation and guide you through the process of seeking redress.

Step 6: Negotiate a Settlement

In many cases, it may be possible to negotiate a settlement with the seller without going to court. Your solicitor can help you negotiate a fair settlement that covers the cost of repairs or compensates you for the reduced value of the property.

Step 7: Take Legal Action

If negotiation fails, you may need to take legal action. Your solicitor will help you prepare your case and represent you in court. The legal process can be lengthy and costly, so it is important to weigh the potential benefits against the expenses and time involved.

Legal Remedies and Processes

Making a Claim for Misrepresentation

To make a successful claim for misrepresentation, you will need to prove the following:

  1. False Statement: The seller made a false statement about a material fact.
  2. Reliance: You relied on this false statement when deciding to purchase the property.
  3. Inducement: The false statement induced you to enter into the contract.
  4. Loss: You suffered a loss as a result of the false statement.

Types of Misrepresentation and Their Remedies

Fraudulent Misrepresentation

  • Remedy: Rescission and/or damages
  • Proof Required: Evidence that the seller knew the statement was false or was reckless as to whether it was true or false.

Negligent Misrepresentation

  • Remedy: Rescission and/or damages
  • Proof Required: Evidence that the seller had no reasonable grounds for believing the statement was true.

Innocent Misrepresentation

  • Remedy: Rescission and/or damages (though damages are often less likely)
  • Proof Required: Evidence that the seller genuinely believed the statement was true and had reasonable grounds for that belief.

Court Process

If you decide to take legal action, the process typically involves the following steps:

  1. Pre-Action Protocol: Before issuing a claim, you should follow the pre-action protocol, which involves sending a letter to the seller outlining your claim and giving them an opportunity to respond.
  2. Issuing a Claim: If the seller does not respond satisfactorily, you can issue a claim in court. Your solicitor will help you prepare the necessary documents and file the claim.
  3. Court Proceedings: The court will set a timetable for the exchange of evidence and witness statements. Both parties may be required to attend a hearing.
  4. Judgment: The court will make a judgment based on the evidence presented. If you are successful, the court may order the seller to pay damages or rescind the contract.

Potential Outcomes and Compensation


Rescission cancels the contract, returning both parties to their pre-contractual positions. This means you return the property, and the seller returns the purchase price. Rescission is more likely in cases of fraudulent or negligent misrepresentation and is usually only possible if you act quickly after discovering the misrepresentation.


Damages are intended to compensate you for any losses suffered as a result of the misrepresentation. This can include:

  • Cost of Repairs: Compensation for the cost of repairing the undisclosed issues.
  • Diminished Value: Compensation for the reduction in the property’s value due to the undisclosed issues.
  • Consequential Losses: Compensation for any additional losses incurred, such as temporary accommodation costs if you need to move out while repairs are carried out.


In many cases, it may be possible to reach a settlement with the seller without going to court. This can save time and legal expenses. A settlement might include:

  • The seller paying for repairs directly.
  • The seller compensating you for the cost of repairs.
  • A reduction in the purchase price to reflect the diminished value of the property.

Preventive Measures for Future Purchases

Hire a Qualified Surveyor

Always hire a qualified surveyor to conduct a thorough inspection of the property before purchasing. A detailed survey report can reveal potential issues that may not be immediately apparent.

Conduct Thorough Research

Research the property and the surrounding area. Talk to neighbors, check local planning applications, and review any available property history.

Ask Detailed Questions

Ask the seller and their estate agent detailed questions about the property. Ensure that all their responses are documented in writing.

Review the Property Information Form (TA6)

Carefully review the Property Information Form (TA6) and ensure that all questions are answered comprehensively. If any answers are unclear or incomplete, ask for clarification.

Include Warranties in the Contract

Consider including warranties or guarantees in the purchase contract. This can provide additional protection if undisclosed issues are discovered after the purchase.


Discovering problems with a house that were not disclosed by the seller can be distressing and costly. However, as a buyer in the UK, you have legal rights and remedies available to address these issues. By understanding the seller’s obligations, gathering evidence, seeking professional assessments, and consulting with a solicitor, you can take appropriate steps to resolve the situation.

Whether you negotiate a settlement or pursue legal action, the key is to act promptly and diligently. Additionally, taking preventive measures during future property purchases can help you avoid similar issues and ensure a smoother, more transparent buying process.

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