‘My house has a grisly history

Our reader isn’t sure how much future property buyers need to know

Dear Gary, - Bill, by email



Daily Telegraph



QI have a problem and I am struggling to know what to do for the best. I bought my house 16 years ago. I got it for less than market value when compared with other very similar houses on the estate, because the previous owner had been murdered in the house itself. To be clear, I bought the house knowing full well what had occurred. The history of the house has never bothered me. I thought I would live there until I retired. And, in fact, that is what is happening, but much sooner than I expected – I have taken early retirement because of a health issue. I now need to sell up to move to accommodation more suitable to my future needs, and I need to get maximum value from my house sale. When I get my house valued should I mention all this to the estate agent? And what is my legal position if I do not disclose the history of the house to any buyer? Dear Bill, AI am sorry to hear about the health issues causing you to sell up. I also have to say that not everyone would be as sanguine as you about living where you do. Indeed, for many the history of your house would be a major obstacle to living there. And that issue – namely that if they were aware, some people would not want to buy your house – is a key factor in terms of what your legal duty is in relation to disclosure. The basic legal premise with a house sale and purchase is “caveat emptor” or “buyer beware”. This firmly places the onus on the buyer to carry out due diligence as to information that is relevant to the purchase. Hence, most sensible buyers have a survey carried out to ascertain the physical integrity of the building and confirm its value. There is no conveyancing search that discloses addresses where murders or, indeed, any kind of death have occurred. But you might say that does not matter, because with the internet at your fingertips you can simply type an address into a search engine and relevant entries ( grisly or not) will come up. In other words, you might say a buyer’s due diligence should mean they