Following the market appraisal, the Agent contacted the Seller to confirm the details in the sales particulars were correct. The Seller did not raise any concerns regarding the document. The sales particulars stated that the property included a roof terrace. The property went live and marketing commenced.
The Buyer saw the property and, attracted by the pictures of the roof terrace in the sales particulars, booked a viewing. During the viewing, the Buyer asked the Agent if the terrace was demised to the property and was advised that it was.
Following the viewing and the advice provided about the roof terrace, the Buyer made an offer and eventually purchased the property. The Buyer, now the homeowner, was subsequently surprised to be contacted by the Freeholder demanding additional money for the use of the terrace.
The Buyer decided to raise a complaint against the Agent in connection in relation to the sales particulars and the advice she was provided with. The Buyer also raised a complaint with her conveyancer.
As detailed in paragraph 7i of the TPO Code of Practice for Residential Estate Agents, the Agent had an obligation to ensure that all statements that they made about the property, whether oral, pictorial, or written were accurate and not misleading and that all material information was disclosed. Furthermore, when selling leasehold property, paragraph 7k of the TPO Code outlines the additional information an Agent must seek to provide upfront.
The property was advertised as having a roof terrace and a picture of this terrace was included within the sales particulars. In accordance with their obligations under paragraph 7j of the TPO Code, the Agent was required to agree the written details of the property with the Seller to confirm that the details were accurate. The Agent provided evidence to show that they contacted the Seller and attached a copy of the sales particulars. The Seller acknowledged the message but did not raise any concerns about the content of the particulars.
The market appraisal and questionnaire completed by the Seller did not refer to the roof terrace. Although the sales particulars were agreed there was no documented evidence to confirm that the roof terrace was included within sale of the property. In addition, the Buyer made a point of asking about the status of the roof terrace during the viewing.
As the roof terrace was included in the particulars and the Agent had discussed the roof terrace during the viewing, it was incumbent on the Agent to either have verified their statements or to have made potential buyers aware that they had not done so. The Agent assumed that the roof terrace was included, however, as a property professional, they should have verified this information and clarified the position in relation to ownership and access before marketing the property.
Whilst the conveyancer was responsible for verifying the terms of the lease and confirming what was included within the sale, had the agent highlighted that they had not verified the ownership of the terrace the Buyer would have been put on notice to confirm the position through their conveyancers.
By including the roof terrace but not taking appropriate steps to verify that it was included within the sale, the Agent caused the Buyer avoidable and undue aggravation, distress, and inconvenience. The complaint was supported, and an award of compensation made to the Buyer for the Agent’s shortcomings.