News & Legal Updates
Sign up to news & legal updates
If there’s something strange in your neighbourhood, who ya gonna call?” Peter, Ray, Egon? What about your solicitor? Upon purchasing a property, it would be unsettling to discover an unexpected house guest at your new abode. Some buyers may consider it a “treat” and invite the presenter of “Most Haunted” to visit their home, creating a tourist attraction, and maximising financial return from human curiosity. I imagine that the majority of buyers however would want Casper to leave immediately, however friendly he may be.
Does the buyer have any comeback against the seller of the property? One may argue that “vacant possession” has not been granted. However, a seller has limited control over the presence of a ghost, in the same manner as they have limited control over an unwanted house burglar.
The onus is upon a buyer to satisfy themselves on the heritable property that they are about to purchase. Lawyers use the term “caveat emptor”, meaning“buyer beware”. During a property transaction this implied legal position is varied according to the terms of the contract (“the missives”) entered into between the parties. It is standard to include a condition that the seller will warrant that, so far as they are aware, there are no structural issues with the condition of the property or timber problems such as wet rot, damp, or infestation. Where problems are disclosed, either by the seller in the Property Questionnaire or indeed by the surveyor in the Home Report, the solicitor will recommend that the buyer instructs a specialist contractor to inspect the property and provide advice on any issues noted and the estimated costs of repair. There is no requirement within a standard contract to disclose the presence of paranormal activity and I have yet to see an additional clause added to a contract by a purchasing agent. However, one of my colleagues has read a clause within a Home Report highlighting that there was local knowledge that the property had a history of things that go bump in the night.
Under the Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations 2008 there is a duty of care upon estate agents to advise potential purchasers of any material information that would affect an average person’s decision to purchase a property. Of course a seller could argue that they were not aware of the spooky presence and that they do not have the “Sixth Sense” of the buyer and therefore it may be difficult to prove otherwise.
The responsibility remains with the buyer to ask the pertinent question of the seller at the time of offering for the property. In the same light, as asking if any of the neighbours partake in a seasonal National Lampoon’s Christmas Light exhibition on the exterior of their house.
Happy house haunting hunting!Joanne GrimmondPartner – Property
The opinions expressed in this site are of the author(s) only and do not necessarily represent the opinions of Blackadders LLP.
Blackadders takes all reasonable steps to ensure that the content of this site is accurate and up to date. The site is not, however, intended as a substitute for seeking legal or other professional advice but rather as an informative guide to the services provided by Blackadders and topical legal developments. Site visitors should always seek advice tailored to their specific situation. Consequently, Blackadders accepts no responsibility for any loss or damage suffered by anyone acting or failing to act on the basis of information contained on this site. Downloading of material contained on this site is at the user’s own risk and all necessary virus checks must first be carried out by the user. Blackadders is not responsible for the material found on any web sites linked to this one and links to this site may only be made with Blackadders prior consent.
Blackadders owns the copyright in this blog and all material contained on it. The material on this site may be downloaded for personal use only and must not be altered. Otherwise, Blackadders’ written consent is required before any material on this site is reproduced, copied or transmitted in any way.
Information passed to us via this site is kept confidential and will not be disclosed to third parties except if authorised by you or required by law.
© Blackadders LLP 2011
Members of the Law Society of Scotland. Authorised to conduct Investment Business under the Financial Services & Markets Act 2000 by the Financial Services Authority.
Blackadders Solicitors is a trading name of Blackadders LLP, a limited liability partnership, registered in Scotland No SO301600 whose registered office is 30 & 34 Reform Street, Dundee, DD1 1RJ. Reference to a ‘partner’ is to a member of Blackadders LLP.Back to News & Legal updates