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.