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How Long Are You Liable After Selling a House in the UK?

Written by, Marija Petkova

Updated May, 31, 2022

If you’re thinking of selling your house, you may wonder how long you’ll be on the hook for any potential problems with the house after purchase.

In this article, we’ll look at how long you are liable after selling a house in the UK and share some tips on how you can reduce your risk exposure.

Let’s dive in.

How Long Are You Liable After Selling Your House?

If there was a problem with the property when the contracts were exchanged, for example, the house leaks after purchase in the UK, the buyer can claim damages. The problem must be a serious defect (not an opinion) and must also have a negative impact on the property value.

The liability period for the previous owner varies based on the circumstances. Normally, a buyer has six years to bring a claim against you, but it may be as little as three years in certain circumstances.

The more time passes after the date of completion, the more challenging it will be for a new owner to prove that they’ve only recently discovered an issue.

When Are Property Sales Laws Used?

Property sales laws dictate the process of the sale process and outline the responsibilities of the seller and buyer.

Buying and selling houses in the UK can be a tricky business. For years, the responsibility for determining whether a property was in good condition or had any problems or issues rested with the buyer. 

Under the principle of “Caveat Emptor,” which translates to “let the buyer beware,” the house seller was not legally obligated to disclose any known or unknown defects in the property. It’s up to the buyer to investigate any potential issues with the home before making an offer.

Since 2013, sellers have to follow the Consumer Protection Against Unfair Trading Regulations, under which they are required to tell the buyer anything that might affect their decision to buy the property – even if the buyer doesn’t ask about it.

Sellers also have to provide an Energy Performance Certificate for the property and draw up a legal contract once they accept a buyer’s offer.

What Is The Property Information Form (TA6)?

The TA6 form is a document that provides potential buyers with all the information they need to make an informed decision about whether or not to purchase a property. 

If you’ve ever wondered “what must estate agents disclose?” this document answers that question.  

Some of the most important information found in a TA6 include:

  • Property lines
  • Any changes made to the property
  • Shared spaces with neighboring properties
  • Formal and informal agreements that concern the property
  • Complaints or disputes made by or about the seller
  • People who live on the property
  • The guarantee and warranty conditions affecting the home
  • Environmental concerns

Sellers are required to fill out this document properly, answer all questions in it truthfully, and give it to the buyer.

What Issues Are Considered Important?

If a new homeowner purchases a property and believes the seller tricked them (deliberately or not) regarding the condition of the home during the sales process, they might take legal action against the seller.

The Law Society’s Standard Conditions of Sale states that the seller must provide a buyer with certain information about the property before entering into a contract. This includes disclosing whether there are any structural defects or other problems that could affect the value of the property.

The new owner can take legal action months or even years after the sale is completed if they can prove the defect was there when the agreement was made. 

Some valid reasons that can lead to misrepresentation claims include:

  • Flood damage (regardless of when it took place)
  • Disputes with neighbours 
  • Proposed planning in the area
  • A prior sale fail through due to poor survey reports on the property
  • Past or present pests or similar problems

If you have any concerns, it is always advisable to seek legal advice on selling a house.

How to Avoid Being Liable After Selling Your House?

If a buyer bought a house with problems not disclosed in the UK, they can sue the seller. 

The best way to avoid liability is to be upfront about any issues the house may have and answer all questions on the TA6 form truthfully. This can sway buyers but you might be able to sell the property at a solid price if you show buyers how you fixed some of those issues in the past.

For example, if you have had a pest problem, you can provide them with a document that proves you’ve dealt with the issue. 

If problems with the house arise after completion in the UK, you are unlikely to be liable for it.

You should also make sure that you have all the necessary documents and paperwork in order before putting your house up for sale. This includes things like the mortgage agreement (you would probably need to transfer the mortgage to the new owner), proof of ownership, and any other relevant documentation.

If you don’t have certain relevant documents, you can always take indemnity insurance.

You may be interested in: What Does Building Insurance Cover in Flats?

Finally, it is important to be clear about what is included in the sale price. For example, if you are including furniture or other items in the sale or if there are any restrictions on the property, such as planning permission and listed building status, make sure they are clearly outlined in the contract.

Bottom Line

How long are you liable after selling a house in the UK? A buyer usually has six years from the time they become aware of an issue to file a claim against the seller, though they may have less in certain cases.

The seller can only be liable for any defect that was there when the contract was made. If the buyer can prove that, they may be entitled to some monetary damages.

Frequently Asked Questions And Their Answers

Can someone sue after buying a house in the UK?

Buyers can sue the seller after purchasing a property for different reasons. For example, if the seller lied on the property information form. If the buyer finds faults after buying a house (like a defect or anything that affects the use of the property), they might have grounds for a lawsuit.

What documents do I need when selling my home?

To sell a house, you’ll need: proof of your identity, property title deeds, shared freehold documentation, energy performance certificate, management information pack, fittings and contents form, property information form, mortgage details, and acceptance of offer.

How long after buying a house can you report faults in the UK?

If you’re wondering how long are you liable after selling a house in the Uk, the answer is around six years, though, in some cases, it might be less. Buyers can sue sellers that have intentionally left out defects or details that can affect the functionality of the property and its value.

My name is Marija, and I'm a financial writer at DontDisappointMe. Although finance might not be everyone's cup of tea, my 10+ years of working in one of the biggest banks in my country, and my interest in extensive research on everything finance/investment-related, have made me somewhat of an expert in the field (if I do say so myself). No longer having the passion to work in a corporate setting, I decided that I couldn't let all of this knowledge go to waste so I started writing. And, here I am! Today I try to share my knowledge with my audience in the hopes of making this topic as simple and interesting as possible. In my leisure time, I like spending time with my family and travelling to new locations.