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Ben Jones
Ben Jones, UK Lawyer
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I have just sold a motorhome as a private seller to a

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I have just sold a motorhome as a private seller to a private buyer.
As far as I was aware the motorhome was in good condition and this is how I advertised it.
The buyer had a friend inspect the motorhome first then the buyer came and inspected the motorhome himself. I pointed out to both the friend and the buyer various minor faults that I was aware of.
We agreed a price and the buyer bought it on the spot, paying by bank transfer.
Later in the evening the buyer rang saying that part of the floor of the motorhome has some rot in it and he wants to return the motorhome and claim a refund.
From photographs provided by the buyer there is some rot in the floor which has obviously been there for some time, but it is not something that I was aware of.
As far as I am aware, despite the rot in part of the floor, the motorhome is roadworthy, although I obviously can't say for certain as I do not now have the vehicle. We have ourselves used the motorhome recently without any problems and the motorhome was MOT'ed end March and although the rot would obviously have been there at the time, there is no mention of this in the MOT.
As the buyer inspected the motorhome I am reluctant to take it back and give a refund, although as a goodwill gesture I would be prepared to make a contribution towards repairs.
The buyer is threatening to park the motorhome back on my drive and is threatening court action.
I am concerned about this and I am looking for advice on whether I am obligated to take the motorhome back, whether the buyer can take me to court and get his money and costs and expenses back, and how I should respond to the buyer.
I am still prepared to make a reasonable contribution to any repairs on a goodwill basis.
Hello, my name is***** am a qualified lawyer and it is my pleasure to assist you with your question today.
Did you offer any kind of warranty with the sale?
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
OK, thank you for your response. I will review the relevant information and laws and will get back to you as soon as I can. Please do not respond to this message as it will just push your question to the back of the queue and you may experience unnecessary delays. Thank you
Thanks for your patience. When a person buys a second-hand vehicle from a private seller, their rights will be somewhat limited and will not be as extensive as if they had bought it from a dealer. In general, there is no legal requirement for the vehicle to be of satisfactory quality or fit for purpose. Therefore, the buyer will only have rights in the following situations:· If the vehicle did not match the description given, whether in the advert or any subsequent discussions. This would amount to breach of contract or misrepresentation. You need to be careful here because if you had made a representation about something then you would be liable for it, even if you did not know that the opposite was true. SO the only concern here is if you had described it in good condition but then they argue that having rot on the floor questions that statement.· If the seller broke a specific contractual term – e.g. if they fail to do something they specifically agreed to, for example, fix certain faults or provide an MOT. This is also going to be a breach of contract· If the seller was actually a dealer posing as a private seller - this is an unfair commercial practice and can even be a criminal offence· If the vehicle is unroadworthy – this occurs if its brakes, tyres, steering or construction make it unfit for the road. This will also be a criminal offence. So as mentioned my only concern would be the way you described the car and whether a reasonable person would believe that a vehicle described as being in good condition but with a rotten floor does not match its description. In an y event the buyer does not have the legal right to return the car ad get a refund but as this could be a breach of contract they could pursue you for the costs in fixing that, i.e. the losses they have suffered as a result. There is nothing stopping the from going to court, that is their legal right if they wanted to go down that route. This is your basic legal position. I have more detailed advice for you in terms of the rights you have should the matter end up in court, which I wish to discuss so please take a second to leave a positive rating for the service so far (by selecting 3, 4 or 5 stars) and I can continue with that and answer any further questions you may have. Don’t worry, there I no extra cost and leaving a rating will not close the question and we can continue this discussion. Thank you
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Thank you for the advice so far and I have a couple of questions on a couple of the points you raise.
The description that I gave was "very good condition.... .... the only fault that we are aware of is ... a lock", which was accurate based on the knowledge that I had as I had no knowledge of any other significant problems or reason to believe that there were any specific problems with the floor. Also, the buyer did inspect the motorhome, (including looking at the underside) and said how pleased he was with the condition before he bought and paid for it. Does this mean that the buyer is still entitled to be reliant solely on my description, bearing in mind that neither of us picked up on the area of rot at the time and both he and his friend had the opportunity to fully inspect for themselves and to call in an expert if they felt the need to do so?
To clarify the rot in the floor for the "roadworthy" issue, this is a wooden floor that is not part of the actual vehicle structure, it is only part of the “living” area of the motorhome which is mounted on top of the actual vehicle structure. There is actually a double floor and it is only a section of the lower floor that has the rot. I do not believe that this makes the construction of the vehicle unroadworthy or likely to collapse, (although I am not an expert and am reliant on the pictures and description given to me by the buyer as I have not personally seen the extent of the damage). The buyer has also now sent me a text saying that he is going to take the motorhome away with him and get it looked at near his home (he lives in Scotland, but viewed the motorhome and will be driving back to Scotland from Hampshire). The buyer is obviously satisfied that the vehicle is roadworthy. Does this have any bearing on anything?
In respect of the possibility of a claim for the cost of repair due to the fault, is this something that I would be entirely liable for, (a) bearing in mind the buyers inspection, (b) that the motorhome is 13 years old and should be expected to have some wear and tear, (c) is what is reasonable for me to be liable for affected by the fact that the buyer is going to be making a fairly long journey with the possibility of any existing damage being made worse, (d) and is it reasonable for me to be entirely liable for the costs of repair when by the buyer taking the motorhome to Scotland I will have no control over the repair including the extent of repairs being asked for or the possibility of getting competitive quotes for the work where repairers are likely to be thin on the ground?
The bot***** *****ne for me is that I want to be reasonable with the buyer but I am trying to ascertain what the legally "reasonable" position is.
Many thanks
If you make any representations about the car then you will be liable for them even if you did not know of any issues which may make these statements untrue. So that is why some sellers simply state the car is ‘sold as seen’ – then the buyer rarely has any comeback as it is down to them to satisfy themselves as to the condition of the vehicle. It also depends on whether the issues would have been immediately obvious at the time of inspection. For example, you sold a car described as in very good condition but with missing doors – obviously this must be clear at the time of inspection so to claim later that the vehicle does not match its description is not going to work. Therefore, it depends on whether the issues were readily visible at the time or if it would have taken some more detailed inspection later to make them visible. The fact that the vehicle is roadworthy does not change anything in relation to the rights discussed above – this is a separate issue which could give the buyer further claims against the seller. As t what is reasonable, that is the big question. What you may get from one judge on one day may differ quite a bit to what a different one say on another day. In the end the law tries to place the byer in the position they would have been had the breach not occurred. So whilst you may not necessarily be liable for the full losses, taking into account the age and general condition of the vehicle, there will be some liability and it could be the larger proportion of the costs. But until challenged in court, no one can realistically give you a definitive answer. If your original question has been answered I would be grateful if you could please quickly rate my answer by selecting 3, 4 or 5 starts at the top of the page - it only takes a second to do and is an important part of our process. I can still answer follow up questions afterwards if needed. Thank you
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