A couple are being sued over the sale of their luxury lake-side barn conversion after they failed to reveal plans to build a neon-lit motel ‘next door’.  Now the National Association of Estate Agents (NAEA) is warning agents to check material information disclosed by the sellers to avoid ‘a lot of trouble further down the line’.

Adrian and Lisa Powell had been searching for their perfect house for six years when they found the ‘stunning barn conversion’ near the village of Buckland in Oxfordshire.  Their offer to buy the property for £1.085m was accepted by Philip and Elizabeth Ash and the parties exchanged contracts.

Mr and Mrs Powell were later ‘horrified’ to discover plans to build a neon-lit drive-thru and a 61-room Mollie’s Motel on the nearby A420, ‘next door’ to the property.

They pulled out of the contract and are now suing Mr and Mrs Ash for failing to disclose the plans to build the motel.  They are claiming £300,000 which represents the return of their deposit, and also costs and damages including their purchase of a horse and furniture in anticipation of moving into the barn.

In turn Mr and Mrs Ash are claiming that that the Powell’s deposit is forfeit for non-completion of the contract.

In court it was revealed the Mr and Mrs Ash were aware of the planned development as they had objected to planning permission being granted.

The NAEA has now warned its members to check seller’s material disclosures.  “A quick check of the information submitted on the sellers’ questionnaire will save a lot of trouble further down the line if any issues can either be confirmed before the sale, or easily disproven,” it said on its website.

James Burgoyne, Director – Claims & Technical, Brunel Professions agrees.  “It is entirely possible that agents could face claims of professional negligence if they were aware of information that sellers fail to reveal. They may even have to deal with allegations that they colluded with the seller,” he said. “As the present case shows, the sums involved can be considerable, and the parties will often have a strong emotional investment in the outcome of the case. Attention in the earlier stages of a transaction will be well spent, as property professionals should avoid the time and reputation cost of being associated with these kinds of disputes.

News about the case, which is continuing, has been published by NAEA and Mail Online.

Brunel provides a wide range of Professional Indemnity Insurance broking services to property professionals.  Click here to find out more, or call Mark Sommariva on 0203 475 3275.