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Stuart J
Stuart J, Property Solicitor
Category: Property Law
Satisfied Customers: 23328
Experience:  Senior Partner at Berkson Wallace
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I need advice - In June 2019 sold property. Buyers now state

Customer Question

I need advice - In June 2019 sold property. Buyers now state I did not act in good faith and integrity on the TA6 form, as they have found Japanese Knotweed, and they have put surveyor report. The position here is that the buyer is as I am aware accusing me of misrepresentation. The buyer now state I am fully responsible for removal/treatment of Japanese Knotweed cost of £17,200 + VAT plus additional legal cost as necessary. They have issued letter before action. I was not aware of the Japanese knotweed neither I was aware of the Japanese knotweed affecting the property. How would I have been aware of Japanese Knotweed if it was hidden underneath other shrubs. I believe buyer is making up this or someone has said they claim. I have done surveyor report and he did not pick the up or nor my solicitor advise me any of the Japanese knotweed. They told me that they will take legal action against me. On the TA6 form, I stated No. I do not believe I am liable and do not accept responsibility. I need to response his solicitor letter before action otherwise they will issue claim against me. What shall I put in my response? What about surveyor who prepared the report and does not mention any thing about Japanese Knotweed in his report? Is he liable of this diminution of the property? What about my solicitor who has acted behalf of me in the selling the house? Please advice in details so I can prepare my response to them.
Submitted: 6 months ago.
Category: Property Law
Expert:  Nicola-mod replied 6 months ago.
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Expert:  Stuart J replied 6 months ago.

The Seller’s Property Information form TA6 has a specific question about knotweed. The form is less than perfect but it’s getting there. The lots of areas where it needs updating and this was one of the last update that I remember. Prior to 2013, the question didn’t exist.

7.8 says, “is the property affected by Japanese knotweed?”

You have 3 answers, yes, no and not known.

Yes is obvious.

No is very precise

not known is obvious.

I had hoped that your answer was “not known” because if you put “no” when it was, even though it wasn’t obvious, then you potentially have a problem.

In fact, it would be very rare for anyone to be able to say no. You could qualify the answer right “not as far as I am aware-please rely on your own enquiries”.

The solicitor would have no reason to query this if you simply put no.

However you also raise the issue that the surveyor should have picked it up and indeed, the surveyor should have done BUT it depends whether they just had a valuation for mortgage purposes or whether they had a full survey because a valuation for mortgage purposes would certainly not investigate this extent.

I don’t know whether the letter has come from a solicitor or whether it’s come from the person themselves. If it is come from the solicitor that dealt with the conveyancing, it may be a “nuisance letter” to see whether it prompts a response.

Although I would love to say that your own solicitor had his head on the block here, I do not believe that he has done anything wrong because you made that bold statement. There is no reason why he should have queried that question and asked, “are you sure?”.

I’m sorry to say but it really remains to be seen whether they actually issue proceedings against you because of they do, I wouldn’t be rushing to court on this, I would be negotiating.

You make the point is to how you would be aware if it was under other shrubs but with my judges hat on, if you weren’t aware, why did you say no when you didn’t know.

The problem is that if they go to court and they are successful, you will have to pay the claim plus all the legal costs and they could easily be as much again. That’s why I am suggesting negotiation.

You can always make a without prejudice offer of say, half of it and see what they say. If you are making an offer needs to be done in the format of a Part 36 offer. I can tell you how to do that if needed.

Alternatively, you can brazen it out and see what happens in court and indeed see whether they go that far.

If I have answered your question for you, at the top of the page, you should see a rating facility. Can you please rate my reply 3 stars or more because that really helps me? Please note you are not rating whether it’s favourable, because sometimes you may not get the answer you want, but basically my knowledge and way of dealing.

The thread does not close and I am happy to answer any questions you may have arising from this.

Kind regards