Disputes have to be declared

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Q The agent I had to sell my home insists that she has to tell buyers about a dispute I have been having with my neighbour. This isn’t true, surely?

A The short answer is – yes it is. Under the Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations, agents are legally bound to reveal any negative issues about a property, if known to them, which may affect a buyer’s decision – and without knowing the details of your dispute, a long-running and possibly rancorous feud with a neighbour would be precisely the sort of negative issue that a prospective buyer would want to know about.

From your agent’s perspective, this is certainly no joke.

Withholding information that could materially affect the buying decision could leave her open to legal action, fines of up to £5,000 and even possible imprisonment.

Which, incidentally, makes the results of some research published recently by a leading insurer all the more instructive.

According to this survey, quoted in The Independent, about 60 per cent of agents do not check with their vendor clients about disputes with neighbours.

Why? For the glaringly obvious reason, I would suggest, that the afore-mentioned agents don’t want to know!

After all, it’s quite on the cards that revealing details of a long-running dispute might scupper the chances of a sale altogether – so, best not ask at all since you can hardly be accused of withholding something you weren’t aware of.

Against this background, I should say that this agent’s insistence that she is obliged to tell prospective buyers about your dispute reflects extremely well on her professionalism and integrity – so I would be inclined to stick with her.

Meanwhile, what is your best way forward in this situation?

Basically, you should go all out to resolve this dispute as soon as possible.

Frankly, it doesn’t matter at this stage who is right and who is wrong.

The only thing that does matter is that you want to sell.

So, just grit your teeth and say or do whatever is necessary to defuse the situation.

Quite apart from the legalities of the issue, remember that an aggrieved or even downright vindictive neighbour is the last thing you want anywhere near your home if you are trying to sell it.

After all, they can make things awfully difficult if they want to – particularly when you have viewings!