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Ash, Solicitor
Category: Law
Satisfied Customers: 10914
Experience:  Solicitor with 5+ years experience
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My mother has just bought a property, it is clear it is infested

Resolved Question:

My mother has just bought a property, it is clear it is infested with rats and cockroaches and she cannot move in. Vendor claims she was unaware (it had been rented), her solicitor has said "caveat emptor" and the questionnaire had stated purchaser needs to rely on her own inspection.
What can she do?
Submitted: 2 years ago.
Category: Law
Expert:  Ash replied 2 years ago.
Alex Watts : Hello my name is ***** ***** I will help you with this.
Alex Watts : For now please let me know the cost of putting this right?
Alex Watts : Note I am just on the train so may be on and offline.

the cost of remedy will be carpets, kitchen and bathroom as ALL were infested and had to be removed. Hard to quantify this at the moment but i guess circa £8k. My mother has been staying with friends as she cannot acces the property so no cost at the moment but depending what the pest control guy finds later this week she may be able to move in early next week.


further info which may be helpful - the vendor was at the property last weekend (seen by neighbours) clearing things out and inthe words of the pest control man, it's "simply not possible" she didn't know about it. She stayed in the property, prior to exchange I believe, and MUST have known about the issue.


is the reply in the questionnaire that she must rely on her own inspection enough to avoid any responsibility?

Alex Watts : Ok. But the questionnaire did say that the purchaser should get their own inspection
Alex Watts : Did the seller tick no?
Alex Watts : Why did she not get her own inspection?

erm, tick no? I don't understand? (this is my mothers transaction but she's too distressed to deal with this...)

Alex Watts : Was there a question about infestation? I don't understand where the get your own inspection comes into it.
Alex Watts : Was that a general comment?

she had a survey done, the middle of the three types


i think it was a general comment

Alex Watts : and the survey didn't pick it up?
Alex Watts : Was it one of the things the survey should pick up?

her conveyancing solicitor asked them about dry rot, etc etc any kind of infestation and the response was "should rely on their own inspection"

Alex Watts : Ok. Should her own inspection have covered this?

i don't know if she made a specific requirement of her surveyor, is this something you would normally expect them to discover?

Alex Watts : It sounds like there may be a claim but I don't think the full amount can be recovered given the fact that she had her own survey. I think the seller should have declared it, but I think there is a claim but not the full 100%
Alex Watts : You need to write and set out your losses and request a refund within 14 days or say you will go to Court within 14 days. You should make sure you send this signed delivery and keep a copy.
Alex Watts : I would claim the whole £8000 at this point
Alex Watts : If they do not refund you then you can issue proceedings in the County Court. You can either do this online at: or by completing form N1 and take it to your local County Court.

when she viewed the property there were still items in the house, but then when she got the keys she discovered there were rat, mouse and cockroach traps in multiple places in the house

Alex Watts : I would also ask the surveyor if this was something they would normally check as it may be there is a claim against the firm too
Alex Watts : The Court will then issue a claim which a copy will be sent to the Defendant who will have a limited time to defend it, if not you can enter Judgment and enforce.
Alex Watts : If the matter is defended it will be set down for a trial. If the claim is for £10,000 or less it will be a small claim and you will not need representation.

so even though the seller was not living there she cannot avoid responsibility completely by claiming (whether true or not) that she didn't know about it

Alex Watts : Indeed.
Alex Watts : The seller could have said unknown.
Alex Watts : Given the fact your own pest control said it would be obvious you may have a claim.
Alex Watts : Can I clarify anything else.?

is there precedent in this area? this has been extremely distressing for her and i don't want her to go down the litigation route (and i am not expecting you to give advice on outcome here) if her chances are low


i don't want my Mum to be a test case! :-)

Alex Watts : This is a small claim so precedents do not normally follow. However this seems to be a contractual dispute.
Alex Watts : I think it's 50/50
Alex Watts : On the one hand the seller should have known
Alex Watts : On the other it did say get own inspection
Alex Watts : So it's hard to say which way it would go

is it of any relevance when she must have know for sure, ie after exchange?

Alex Watts : but I would claim the £8k and the judge may award it all or go 50/50 so £4000 back

she being the vendor in my wuestion

Alex Watts : Well by exchange it's too late. You are committed
Alex Watts : Does this help?

exactly. so if she only discovered after exchange (possible, but not likely) then potentially she could argue that there was no point in disclosing - both parties were committed

Alex Watts : indeed

is that of any relevance to my mothers claim?

Alex Watts : Its always worth a try in the small claims court. I
Alex Watts : Can I clarify anything else?

is it expensive to pursue via small claims?

Alex Watts : No. The court fees are listed here

will she require the services of a solicitor to improve her chances and avoid losing on a technicality?

Alex Watts :
Alex Watts : No. It's a small claim, costs of a Solcitor can't be recovered
Alex Watts : She can use one, but she can't claim that back


Alex Watts : Is there anything else I can help with today?

in your experience (i realise you have a bias!) will it be money well spent

Alex Watts : indeed.
Alex Watts : But as you say I am biased!
Alex Watts : I would get representation at least for the final hearing trial

i dont want her to lose the case because she has failed to observe some technical matter

Alex Watts : Yes
Alex Watts : Is there anything else I can do for you?

final Q i think - will a trascript of this chat be saved/sent as an email? i have never used this service before?

Alex Watts : Once you rate the format changes

i'd like to refer to the links you have shared, i've noted them but you never know....




will do that

Alex Watts : You can come back to it at any time or copy and paste it




Alex Watts : If this answers the question might I invite you to rate my answer
Alex Watts : Its the button at the bottom



yep, seen it

Alex Watts : If you needs more help please click reply
Alex Watts : thanksreply thanks

thanks, ***** ***** been very helpful

Alex Watts : thanks
Alex Watts : happy to help
Ash, Solicitor
Category: Law
Satisfied Customers: 10914
Experience: Solicitor with 5+ years experience
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