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SPIF - Summary

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  • SPIF - Summary

    The Seller's Property Information Form (SPIF) has been updated and one of the main sections is - (looking at the whole form):

    Section 2 (within), there appears that there are no time limits specified currently, e.g:

    2- Disputes

    2.1 Do you know of any disputes about this

    or any neighbouring property?


    2.2 Have you received any complaints

    about anything you have, or have no,

    done as owners?


    2.3 Have you ever made any such

    complaints to a neighbour about what s/ he

    has or has not done?

    -So you could justifiably, say "No, not within the last 2 years" etc, "Yes, but, two years ago" and so on.

    Also, some extensive info follows:

    Source: The Legal Executive

    Memo: the SPIF has changed – watch out for the new form!

    Two recent cases concern disclosure of information when property changes hands. The first case concerns the seller’s duty and the second the estate agent’s.

    The seller

    All practitioners are familiar with the Seller’s Property Information Form (SPIF). Question 2 on Disputes used to read:

    1) Do you know of any disputes about this or any neighbouring property?

    2) Have you received any complaints about anything you have, or have not, done as owners?

    3) Have you made any such complaints to any neighbour?

    It is universal practice among sellers to answer NO to these questions. Admitting a dispute with a neighbour may well end any chance of a sale. Neighbour feuds provide television entertainment, but in real life can destroy lives, demolish peace of mind, cause much grief and heartache and lead to a quagmire of vast legal expense.

    After a recent court case, sellers should consider carefully how they answer questions on neighbour disputes and the possible consequences of being "economical with the truth".

    The case

    In July 1999 Mr and Mrs McMeekin bought a house in Waterlooville, Hampshire, for £124,000.(1) The sellers, Mr and Mrs Long, had answered NO to the questions on neighbour disputes. The buyers asked about neighbours and were assured that they were friendly and were introduced to some of them.

    Some time after the McMeekins moved in it began to appear that all was not peace and harmony in the neighbourhood. Some neighbours, Mr and Mrs Cooper, who owned the freehold of the access road shared by four neighbouring houses, objected to a delivery vehicle bringing goods to the McMeekins’ home.

    It emerged that there had been a continuing dispute over parking and the use of the road. The McMeekins tried to resolve the dispute out of court, but when this failed they brought a claim for compensation against the sellers, Mr and Mrs Long.

    (2) They alleged fraudulent and negligent and/or innocent misrepresentation. The verbal reassurance the Longs had given them that the neighbours were ‘good and friendly’ and the written reassurance on the SPIF were, it was alleged, fraudulent. The Longs maintained that there had been issues concerning the access road but that these had been resolved.

    Mr Justice Astill heard the case at Portsmouth County Court in October 2002. He found that the sellers had fraudulently misrepresented that there were no disputes with neighbours. The lives of the McMeekins have been, he said “devalued by a continuation of a running dispute [with] Mr and Mrs Cooper about the use of motor vehicles on the access road, which is a continuation of the problem that was suffered by the occupants when the defendants were there.

    "That is precisely the kind of information which must be disclosed to a potential purchaser for them to be able to make up their minds whether they wish to buy a property with the running sore of constant disputes and antagonism existing between the owners of the access road and those who have rights of way over it."

    The judge said the sellers should have answered YES to the questions on the SPIF asking if there were any neighbour disputes and that the sellers "must have known they were not being truthful when they answered those two questions". He went on: "The seller’s property information form could not be expressed in clearer language. It is not a lawyer’s form, but one which is designed for everyone to understand". The McMeekins accepted an out-of-court settlement of £67,500 for compensation and legal costs.

    The SPIF has now changed in one important respect with regard to disputes. The form now asks the following question:

    Do you know of any disputes or anything which might lead to a dispute about this or any neighbouring property?

    Estate agents

    John D Wood & Co (Residential & Agricultural) Ltd v Knatchbull [2003] 08 EG 1313 concerned a property in Notting Hill. The seller, Mr Knatchbull, took the advice of the estate agents, John D Wood, on the asking price, which was £1,500,000 in July 2001. Unknown to the seller, a nearby property was put on the market at the same time for £1,950,000 and the owner accepted an offer of £1,800,000.

    The estate agent had known of this development, but did not inform Mr Knatchbull.

    Mr Knatchbull refused to pay the commission which had been agreed with the estate agent. He admitted liability for the commission but counterclaimed that the estate agent had been in breach of contract and/or negligent, denying him an opportunity to obtain a higher price than £1,500,000.

    The judge heard expert evidence on the value of the property at the time of the sale, concluded that it was about £1,700,000, and, given that there is a margin of error, found that the estate agent had not been negligent in advising on the asking price.

    But on the question of whether the estate agent had a duty to inform their client that a neighbouring property was being marketed at the far higher price of £1,950,000, the judge held that they most certainly had such a duty. The duty of care is continuing, and is such:

    "That the agent has a duty to exercise reasonable care when marketing a property for sale and if in the course of so doing he becomes aware of any significant event in the market that might influence his principal’s instructions to inform the principal thereof and to advise him accordingly".

    The firm had therefore been in breach of the duty of care that they owed to their client, denying him the opportunity of selling at a higher price, and damages were awarded to the dissatisfied customer.

    Failure to disclose all relevant information may turn out to be a costly error.

    1 See: The Guardian, 4 March 2003.

    2 Blake Lapthorn acted for the McMeekins (email: [email protected], Tel 01489 579990).

    3 See: Estate agents: the continuing duty, by John Martin, New Law Journal, 14 March 2003, p. 410.

  • #2
    SPIF Form in .pdf Format attached.

    >> See Last Post to Download

    If you need this in other formats, please PM and I can convert this for you.

    To view a .pdf document you can download the free Adobe Reader if required.


    • #3
      Seller's Property Information Form (SPIF) - 2nd Edition:

      >> See Last Post to Download


      • #4
        link for SPIF form from the main site


        • #5
          Thanks Beth.

          Just realised, the earlier attachments are no longer showing, so here are both versions of the SPIF form again attached to this post (1st and 2nd Editions).