The Agent marketed the property, (which formed part of an estate that the Agent had managed for over ten years), as in need of modernisation and updating. The potential buyer, Mr C, was fully aware of this fact when offering for the property however, he argued that he did not become aware that there was actually no garden; that the property was listed; and that it had septic tank drainage located on someone else’s land until some way into the transaction.
Given that the Agent had managed the property for a long period of time, I considered that they were aware that the property was listed and, as such, any works would have to be compatible with its listed status. I considered this to be material information any buyer would need to be aware of. Furthermore, whilst the property was advertised as benefitting from a small rear yard and a small rear garden, this was clearly not the case, as Mr C found out when viewing the property again after his offer had been accepted and finding that a fence had been erected cutting off the garden element. Again, I considered this to be material information any buyer would need to be aware of. Finally, I also pointed out that the drainage arrangements would have been known to the Agent and that, given the location of the septic tank, this would also likely constitute material information for any buyer.
Overall, I was extremely critical of the Agent for failing to divulge important information to Mr C at a much earlier stage which, given the nature of that information, should have been disclosed prior to the first viewing. That said, when considering the level of award I noted that even when provided with this information, Mr C continued to progress the transaction which subsequently broke down due to reasons not connected with those aspects of his complaint. I supported the complaint and awarded £500 for the inconvenience and aggravation which the Agent’s omissions had caused to Mr C. However, in the circumstances I did not consider recompense for his legal and survey costs to be appropriate.
In this case the Agent had withheld material information and, instead, provided misleading information (regarding the garden) contrary to the TPO Code of Practice and most likely in breach of the CPRs. Put simply, if an agent is aware of any information which, if known to a buyer, may have caused them to make a different transactional decision, that information must be disclosed at the earliest opportunity.