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TODAY'S OTHER NEWS

Property Information Form in spotlight after sellers face £285k bill

Sellers who failed to mention a motel and diner being constructed nearby have been ordered by a court to pay £285,000 to buyers to cover their deposit and damages.

In November we reported that the prospective buyers of a barn conversion in Oxfordshire paid a deposit of £108,000 - but they discovered the plans for the motel and diner one day before completion. They withdrew as a result.

The dispute, which relates to a deal in 2017, throws up many issues at the centre of the industry’s current debate over reservation agreements, up-front property details and non-refundable deposits.

Now the sellers - Philip and Elisabeth Ash - have been ordered to pay frustrated buyers Adrian and Lisa Powell £285,000 in total, broken down into £110,000 for the deposit and £175,000 in damages. 

The Powells had bought a horse for their daughter on the strength of moving into the property, which included a paddock.

Judge Simon Monty QC stated that the Ashes had incorrectly completed the property information form and had knowingly given false information. 

The motel and diner, now constructed, is part of the exclusive Soho House empire and is described on its website as being “inspired by the classic American diner, the original Mollie’s is a motel, diner, drive-thru and general store that brings something affordable and stylish to the roadside.”

It is not known whether a TA6 or another Property Information Form was used by the sellers, nor whether the buyers undertook a planning search - it is thought a traditional local search alone may not have uncovered the plan.

The barn conversion has subsequently been sold for just under £1m.

  • Rob Hailstone

    Assuming the Law Society TA6 was used, these are the relevant questions:

    3.1 Have any notices or correspondence been received
    or sent (e.g. from or to a neighbour, council or
    government department), or any negotiations or
    discussions taken place, which affect the property
    or a property nearby? If Yes, please give details.

    3.2 Is the seller aware of any proposals to develop
    property or land nearby, or of any proposals to
    make alterations to buildings nearby?
    If Yes, please give details.

    A recent newspaper article reported:

    "Judge Simon Monty QC said the Ashes had incorrectly answered questions on the sellers' questionnaire relating to whether they knew of any development plans that would affect the property, known as Lake Barn.

    The Ashes said 'no' when in fact 61-room plans for the new Mollie's Motel and Diner had already been approved.

    It also transpired they had even been vocal objectors and 'significantly involved in leading the objections to planning for the development.' "

    A standard Local Search will not usually reveal development taking place outside of the boundaries of the property being sold/bought.

    It is not known (at the moment) if the buyers were offered an additional search/searches being carried out. It is therefore, not known what decision they would have made (would they have requested the additional search/searches?), had they been.

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    Tim Main Pipreport.co.uk
    it shows the importance of early information, as long as it is correct. tjhm

  • Bryan Mansell

    How many more stories like this do we need before the industry accepts that things have to change. What is wrong with providing more detailed information about a property earlier so people can make more informed decisions.

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