Yes, I need to know what recourse we have against the vendor (or her solicitor) under the Misrepresntation Act (or whatever Act is appropriate) as one or both of them led us to believe, in writing, that the house was not listed when in fact it seems that it is. We are almost certainly going to be in the position of having the local authority telling us to a) remove the double glazed windows which have been in for some years b) the same with a front door and patio window c) refuse us permission to carry out a boxroom to bathroom conversion which would otherwise only need Building Regs and quite possibly other restorative work that we currently have no idea about.
Have you seen the local search becuase it should be on that? What specific question did your solicitor ask and what reply was given?
I have the search info here. Firstly I probably need to explain the layout of the property. It is the Coach House of a Manor House. In the grounds of the manor are a walled garden (which now has a modern house built in it) plus a lodge and the Coach House, which are attached to each other but not to the manor in any way. The majority of the search information relates to conversion of the manor to six apartments, a drive to the house in the walled garden and some work on the Lodge, which had originally been garages. Nothing in fact relates to the Coach House per se, although there are Listed Building Consents for work done to some of the other properties. In the circumstances I asked our solicitor to establish for definite what the position was regarding the listing.
The question I asked was
"I really would like a straightforward reply to the question about whether or not the house is listed. This is definitely going to affect whether we even want to go through with this purchase as the house has had work done to it which would have needed Listed Buildings Consent which I doubt would have been given - so would need all sorts of enquiies, indemnities and so on. Having just sold a listed building in W***** with these exact problems I know that there was a certificate to confirm the date of listing etc in with the Deeds and presumably it's very straightforward for CKB to check. Do you know why they haven't done so or exactly why the can't come up with an immediate answer?"
The reply was as follows
"We have received a response from the seller’s solicitors. They have confirmed that the listed buildings consents do not relate to The Coach House. The Coach House itself is not a listed building. I think the solicitors were just being thorough with their research before answering our query."
I have today spoken to English Heritage and because the listing of the Manor was in 1954 and although the listing information they have is non-specific they are refering me back to the Conservation Officer at the Local Authority as it seems they have the final say on this. I am trying to see what our position is should it turn out the property IS listed despite the assurance that it wasn't.
This is not as straightforward as it may seem. The seller may genuinelyhave believed, based upon their own enquiries when they bought the propertythat the Coach House was not listed.
On the other hand, they may have simply "believed" it was not listed andreplied, based upon their own belief that belief was reasonable.
Finally, they may have assumed that it wasn't listed because they had notbeen told anything to the contrary, and they were reckless in their reply.
I cannot believe that they knew it was listed, they would say that it wasnot, because truth would come out in no time at all.
Depending on which of the above it is, they may be guilty ofmisrepresentation or degrees of misrepresentation.
If they had an honest belief based upon their own enquiries, they cannotmisrepresent.
If they have misrepresented (please note it needs to be misrepresentationnot the fact that it is listed. They may have been advised incorrectly) thenyou are entitled to be put back in the position that you would have been hadthe misrepresentation not occurred.
That link comes down to measuring the quantum of your loss.
If the house is being significantly renovated with no listed buildingconsent, it seems unusual that the local authority have not jumped on it, butthat does not mean that it is not listed, very often, depends how to and diligentthe conservation officer is.
It would seem strange (in my opinion) for the Manor house to be listed, butnot the Coach house. This is a very old listing for 1954, because at thatstage, stately homes were being knocked down on a daily and weekly basis!
Of course, the property may be worth more with listed status or less withlisted status and therefore you are going to need a valuer's opinion as to thedifference.
If the Windows need changing, and all the work needs changing, you wouldalso be entitled to those costs.
Can I help further?
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Thank you for that reply and I appreciate what you have to say.
The conservation officer may not have even noticed what was going on at the house as it is not visible from the road.
I had assumed that the vendor's solicitor had made more thorough enquiries than just asking the vendor as I suspect she would have had no clue at all. She had lived in the house for over 20 years, originally with her husband. Another odd point is that 12 years ago the property had a new roof, was rewired and had a new damp-proof course on some sort of grant. This was not mentioned in any of the searches but would, I assume, have needed some form of consent/examination, at which point the work on the windows etc (already done at that point) should have been noticed.
I think that we will have to wait until after the Christmas period now and find out on what basis CBK made the statement.
Just to clarify a point before I finally accept the answer can you just confirm that we would have to establish misrepresentation before we could claim the costs of putting the property back to the state the conservation officer would find acceptable and that otherwise we have no comeback?
The work would almost certainly have needed consent and it does point tothe building not being listed.
Yes, you have to prove misrepresentation before there is a claim againstthe Seller but, misrepresentation can also be innocent.
It may be, of course (and I have come across this) that the Heritage bodshave made a defective listing and only now realise that the coach house shouldhave been included. Your claim is then against them.
Further to our correspondence before, I have now established that the listing is not mentioned on the official search paperwork from the Council when we bought and neither was it mentioned when the previous owner had their search done when they bought the house. The search mentions various parts of the site where listed Building Permissions have been sought but nothing related to our building and our solicitor now says it's an erroneous search on the part of the council as, as far as they are concerned, the council did not declare a listing in the search paperwork and if they now say it IS listed they will have to sort things out, including paying to put anything right which has been altered in good faith (ie the UPVC double glazing, patio door, internal doors, etc, etc) if they now want to list it. It all a) sounds too easy to me and b) expensive from the point of view of taking on the council should that need to happen. We did everything in good faith and checked every avenue we possibly could. Our solicitor says that to all intents and purposes it is NOT a listed building and it would be up to the council to prove it is, which would go against their own signed legal search document. Is there more you could comment on or am I stuck with this problem please?
Ithink the council have the problem not to you!
Youhave a clear search which actually mentions other listed buildings, but notyours.
Theywould struggle to now say that yours is listed and that you must put thingsback or right when you have a clear search.
Tobe frank, I think they would be a bit stupid to go to court on this
Thank you, I really appreciate your reply, especially as our interchange had effectively finished. I was hoping you might say that though! As and when this is resolved I shall let you know for future reference.
I am always happy to make extra contributions, even after a matter has "closed".
I hope you get it sorted.. Let me know how you get on.Thank you