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Vincent2013
Vincent2013, JustAnswer Expert
Category: Law
Satisfied Customers: 213
Experience:  Qualified solicitor and barrister (non-practising) with 7+ years experience
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I have just put an offer in on a house which was accepted and

Customer Question

I have just put an offer in on a house which was accepted and paid £300 valuation fee. i then by chance found out there had been A SUICIDE in the property so pulled out of the sale. the vendor admitted they knew about the suicide but didnt disclose it to me and the estate agent said they didnt know. could i claim for money losses and time wasted?
Submitted: 3 years ago.
Category: Law
Expert:  Vincent2013 replied 3 years ago.
Hi, thanks for your question. My name's Vincent and I'm going to assist you with it.

One of the most frustrating aspects of buying property in England is that, generally, the upfront costs involved with making an offer do not get reimbursed if the transaction falls through. In essence, until contracts have been exchanged there is no binding contractual relationship between the parties.

Having said this, if a potential purchaser has incurred costs and is then forced to pull out of a sale because s/he becomes aware of a fact that the estate agent knew about, he may have recourse under the Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations. This is because these regulations can apply if an estate agent misled the potential buyer by omission.

Broadly, the estate agent has a duty to provide material information required by the average consumer to make an informed and timely decision. So, if, for instance, this particular property has fallen through a number of times due to prospective purchasers becoming aware of a suicide, they could be in breach of their duty by failing to disclose the issue subsequently.

If you feel you have been misled or treated unfairly you can contact the Property Ombudsman, who can force rogue agents to pay compensation. You could also consider contacting Trading Standards. Do make a complaint to the agent before referring it as they may be able to come to a mutually agreeable solution with you.

You can find the OFT's guidance on the relevant regulations as they apply to estate agents here: http://www.oft.gov.uk/shared_oft/estate-agents/OFT1364.pdf

I hope that's helpful but please don't hesitate to let me know if I can clarify anything.