Property liability - buyers/sellers

Can anyone tell me something about buyer/seller liability regarding property?
In every house I've ever owned I have found and put right 'nasties', particularly dodgy wiring. I've never been unduly concerned about attaching blame to this to previous owners, but if I sell a property on, is it caveat emptor, or could there be any comeback on me as a result of injury caused by, say, bad wiring (even if it was perpetrated by some previous owner?)
This is especially pertinent to me as I am doing up a place to sell on, and have come across several nasties - yesterday I found the immersion heater was wired using standard ringmain cable, via an unfused spur off a ringmain; and I uncovered a very loosely-wired 5A chocolate box connector used in place of a junction-box, lying in the roofspace buried under a pile of old rugs. Now I correct these things as I come across them; but can I be held liable for this sort of thing by a future purchaser? Or could I 'divert' the blame to the previous owner?
These 'tricks' have evidently been done some time after the original wiring, which looks basically OK, so I don't want to have to re-wire the whole place on the strength of what I've found so far, unless I really have to!
Thanks David
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I have a horrible suspicion that, if you had left all alone and professed electrical ignorance (and don't advertise the wiring as kosher) you would be OK. If you have done some work, you have probably rendered yourself liable in some way and may have started down the road to having it inspected for a future purchaser. Another approach would be to come clean and state, in writing, to the purchaser that the wiring is not believed to meet current standards and is being sold on that basis.
Of course, you may now decide that you never touched it after all and are in complete ignorance. ;-)
No, I have no documentary support for this view but it's in line with what I understand is now required (that you tell purchasers of any known faults with the property) and other moves to aid the litigious.
--
Bob Mannix
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A purchaser is responsible for carrying out his own survey. Unless something is stated to the contrary, I would imagine you have very little liability on completion of a sale.
Colin
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Colin M wrote:

I think it depends where you are selling - ISTR that, in Scotland at least, you remain liable for any work that you have undertaken on e.g. electrical wiring.
I believe there are also declarations that you have to sign saying that you have declared your full knowledge of the property to the seller.
...or something like that anyway.
RM
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On 20 Oct 2003 05:47:10 -0700, snipped-for-privacy@hotmail.com (Lobster) wrote:

My parents passed away early last year and their property was eventually sold. As administrator for the estate I had to sign a form issued by the buyers solicitor stating what problems I knew about. These included disputes with neighbours thru problems with the services for the property.
Our solicitor filled the form in before handing it to me for signing. On this he had more or less completed all questions with a phrase like "unknown" or "not as far as we are aware". As we didn't live there in the years before it went on the market those answers were perfectly okay.
I imagine that if you found a form of words for completing that form then you'd be perfectly okay. For example if the drains serving the property were collapsed and you had no reason to suspect that problem then you could respond "okay as far as we know".
It's only when you purposely seek to give misleading information that you are in trouble, but that's true in all walks of life. If you get asked a question then you have to answer it. You aren't in any danger if you answer honestly and truthfully - it really is up to the buyer to pay for any additional checks if he's concerned.
PoP
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Hi
I'm pretty sure you dont have to answer any such questions. But, if you refuse to answer one that's a red flag to the buyer. And if you refuse to answer any, again the buyer is going to regard that as a warning.
I'd be tempted to fix everything then get the wiring inspected, then you have a form that says
a) its safe b) if it isnt, someone else is responsible. c) the buyer can have great confidence in the quality of what they're buying
Regards, NT
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On 20 Oct 2003 15:43:04 -0700, snipped-for-privacy@meeow.co.uk (N. Thornton) wrote:

Bear in mind that if someone comes along to do an inspection from which a certificate is issued then you may be talking about 250 or more, just for the certification. The pigeons haven't roosted on this yet.
PoP
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(N. Thornton) wrote:

You could offer to do it for the potential buyer if they pay. Then they know youre willing to accept the inspection, which says something in itself.
Not that that answers the liability aspect. I can only think if I were working on something like that I'd be real thorough.
Regards, NT
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On 21 Oct 2003 08:45:25 -0700, snipped-for-privacy@meeow.co.uk (N. Thornton) wrote:

I think you'd need to phrase it such that the property price is reduced by the equivalent of the cost of the inspection should they wish to go ahead. That way if the inspection is undertaken and the buyer walks away you aren't left with a bill you wouldn't have incurred otherwise.
PoP
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(N. Thornton) wrote:

I think that the only problem with this arrangement would be one of contract and comeback.
If you (as the seller) instruct the person doing the inspection then the contract is between you and them. If inspection comes back glowing "all clear" and subsequently proves to be completely wrong in a negligent way then the buyer would have no contractual redress against the person issuing the certificate.
They might also have little or no scope for comeback against you, the seller, as you had demonstrated due diligence in the course of answering the buyer's questions, and if your solicitor has done is/her job then you wouldn't have signed any onerous indemnifications.
The bottom line is that if the buyer wants such assurances and comeback, then they would have to instruct their own inspection.
cheers Richard -- Richard Sampson
email me at richard at olifant d-ot co do-t uk
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