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Money Matters and Legal / In Law

Sellers Forced to Refund Buyers After loft Found to be Uninhabitable

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A property sale was recently annulled by a court as its sellers were found to have been untruthful regarding the state of the property’s loft. 

The repercussions of not fully disclosing the full state of one’s sale property – including the parts tucked away out of sight – were shown recently, as a seller was forced to refund their entire purchase price to the buyer. The newly-homeowning couple found, upon starting renovation works, a loft advertised as ‘convertible’ in a state of dilapidation or unsuitability, voiding the entire transaction.

The couple had paid €268,000 for the house after the estate agent had flaunted it as a “two-story property, one of which is a convertible loft”. Upon beginning renovation works to said loft – combles in French – it was found that it was a combles perdus; one that could not be converted into a living space, and was thus ‘lost’.

A loft is said to be unconvertible if its height is insufficient or if its wooden structure has dilapidated to the point that exterior refurbishment is necessary. Details of this were not revealed in the court order for reasons of privacy, but it did highlight the legal basis of the decision.

“The buyers did not fulfil their obligations in providing a property conforming to their description, as a property with a useable loft was advertised. It was, therefore, a breach of their obligations to provide a property according to stipulations upon which the sale was based,” read the order.

The sellers have been ordered to refund the buyers the full purchase amount. They had hoped to be able to deduct the costs of fixing what refurbishment had already taken place by the time of the discovery, but this was not granted by the court.

The case study shows the importance of declaring all potential issues with a property when undertaking a sale. While this one was particularly brazen and unwise, even smaller, seemingly less significant omissions could lead to such decisions if buyers feel slighted.

image © Pixabay

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