The prospective buyers of a home in Oxfordshire who paid a deposit of £108,000 before withdrawing are suing the sellers in a dispute over a nearby development.
The dispute, which relates to a deal in 2017, throws up many issues at the centre of the industry’s current debate over reservation fees, up-front property details and non-refundable deposits.
The Daily Telegraph reports that the prospective buyers of a barn conversion priced at £1.08m - Adrian and Lisa Powell - are suing the sellers for £300,000.
The vendors - Philip and Elisabeth Ash - allegedly knew of plans for the nearby motel and diner but did not mention it in the seller’s questionnaire, when asked whether they knew of any proposal which might affect the home for sale.
The sellers claim they did not believe the development would have a detrimental impact on the property they were selling. The motel is not visible from the barn itself - only from the paddock area, which is separated from their home by a few yards - and they believed the form they were filling in only applied to the house.
The legal case, at Central London County Court, has heard that it was only after contracts were exchanged that the Powells learned of the large-scale redevelopment of a former Little Chef nearby. At that point they withdrew from the purchase.
However, they claim that they had bought furniture and even a horse in preparation for moving: they want the return of their £108,000 deposit and payment for lost expenditure.
A barrister acting for the Powells says the Ashes made "false, misleading and/or inaccurate pre-contact statements" which entitled his clients to tear up the contract and be refunded their £108,000 deposit.
The Ashes, meanwhile, say that the Powells' 10 per cent deposit has been forfeited and that the prospective purchasers should bear the cost of purchases they made before the sale went through.
The case continues.
You can see the Telegraph story here, although for some readers it may be behind a paywall.