Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

It's Rubbish out Here; Homes & Property Lawyer Karen Whitburn Answers Your Questions

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

It's Rubbish out Here; Homes & Property Lawyer Karen Whitburn Answers Your Questions

Article excerpt

Q I was happy in my mansion flat for several years, until new neighbours moved in across the hall. They are in the habit of leaving their household rubbish outside their flat door for days at a time, before taking it downstairs for collection. I have had several heated discussions about this because it is unsightly, unhealthy and smells. This is so unpleasant that I have decided to sell. Must I tell a buyer why I am selling?

A This must be a serious problem if it has driven you to consider moving. Where a lessee is causing a nuisance or breaching clearly defined management regulations for a building, the best cause of action is usually to ask the managing agents to get involved, or contact the freeholder and ask them to enforce the relevant leasehold covenants.

A difficulty arises if the flats have the benefit of a share of freehold, because there will be no "arm's-length" third party who can tackle the problem, such as a freeholder or managing agent.

Instead, one neighbour must take direct action against another through the freehold company. It seems you would rather move than take action.

Most buyers' solicitors will submit pre-contract enquiries about a property, asking for details of any disputes or problems that affect its use and enjoyment. You must consider carefully your replies. If you deliberately fail to disclose this rubbish problem, or state there are no disputes, you could be sued for misrepresentation if your buyers later claim they would not have bought the flat if they had known about your neighbours' conduct. The courts do take misrepresentation (which includes non-disclosure) seriously and may award damages against a seller for failing to answer honestly or fully.

Q On Easter Bank Holiday Monday I visited a show home on a new development.

I made an offer for a flat and wrote out a cheque for the "reservation fee" of [pounds sterling]1,000, which I was told was non-refundable but would form part of my deposit. …

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