Property Information Form
The importance of completing it accurately and the potential consequences of not!
When selling a house, as part of the conveyancing process, the seller’s solicitor will ask the seller to complete a Property Information Form TA6. The purpose of this form is to provide important information about the property being sold to the buyer. For the buyer, this document is an opportunity to glean key knowledge of the prospective property, that is often only known by the seller.
What is the Property Information Form?
The Law Society Property Information Form is a standard Society standard form a seller completes when selling a residential property. It contains questions on a range of issues, ranging from environmental matters, rights and informal arrangements, planning notices and proposals, boundaries, and disputes. It enables a buyer to raise specific additional enquiries with the seller on any matters arising from the Form, enabling the buyer to make an informed decision as to whether to proceed with the purchase.
There is no legal requirement to complete the Property Information Form. It can be completed in full, in part or not at all, however, omissions or a decision not to complete the form, may well lead to negative inferences drawn by the buyer and consequent delays.
When completing the form, the seller should respond to the questions on the basis of their own knowledge. Sellers are not expected to have expert knowledge of legal or technical matters or matters, and they are not expected to have knowledge of events or issues that arose prior to their ownership of the property. Sellers must take care when completing the Form, and should review and keep in mind the Law Society Guidance which provides clarification on what is being asked. when completing the Form. If, having completed the Form but before completion of the sale. a seller becomes aware that the Form is no longer accurate, then they should inform their solicitor straight away if any information comes to light which would change any of the replies, so that the solicitor can notify the buyers accordingly.
If the seller provides incorrect information in the Property Information Form, they may find themselves subject to a claim by the seller for misrepresentation.
Misrepresentation in Property
Liability for misrepresentation may arise if the buyer relies on information provided by the seller that is inaccurate or misleading. This includes any information provided within the Property Information Form.
There are three types of misrepresentation, these being
- Fraudulent misrepresentation - where a false representation has been made knowingly, or without belief in its truth, or recklessly as to its truth. This type of misrepresentation is the most difficult to prove as the onus is on the buyer to obtain evidence to prove beyond reasonable doubt that the seller deliberately lied or withheld information.
- Negligent Misrepresentation - This occurs where a statement is made by one contracting party to another carelessly or without reasonable grounds for believing its truth. The test is objective. The onus is on the buyer to prove that the statement was in fact false, and if this is proven, the burden of truth would then shift to the seller to establish that they reasonably believed in the truth of the statement.
- Innocent Misrepresentation - This is used to describe a misrepresentation made entirely without fault, that is, that the seller can show that it had reasonable grounds to believe that the statement they made to the buyer was true, when in actual fact it wasn’t.
If the buyer is successful in respect of a claim for innocent misrepresentation, the court could rescind the contract or award damages. If successful with a fraudulent or negligent misrepresentation claim, both of these remedies can be ordered in the buyer’s favour. In the context of a house sale, the damages that a buyer may seek could be substantial, running into many tens of thousands of pounds.
So how can a seller avoid this situation arising?
When asked to complete the Property Information Form, a seller should ensure that that they read the Instructions to Sellers at the beginning of the Form, and also the Guidance that accompanies the Form (known as the Law Society Property Information Form (TA6) Explanatory Notes for Sellers and Buyers).
If saying “yes” or “no”, be sure that you know that what you are saying is correct. If a seller does not know the answer, then do not be afraid to say so.
How we can help
Our dispute resolution team have significant expertise in this area. If you have bought a property and are concerned that misrepresentation may have occurred on your purchase, or you have sold a property and you would like advice surrounding a potential misrepresentation claim, do not hesitate to contact us.