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'Let the Buyer Beware'

Updated on May 18, 2020
Stella Kaye profile image

Stella has written many property-related articles due to fourteen years' experience in residential lettings and renovation in the UK.

Caveat Emptor


The Estate Agent:

"House for Sale - Excellent condition throughout.'

The Vendor:

"That was clever of me wasn't it, I fooled you. Bet you got a shock when you saw the size of that crack. It was lucky the wardrobe was just about the right size to cover it. Well, what could I do? I saw my dream home on that new estate a few streets away and I wanted it desperately. I couldn't hang around carrying out expensive repairs before I sold up and with a thousand pounds excess for a subsidence claim I'd have been way out of pocket. No...I didn't even bother filling in the crack with a bit of cement or sticking the wallpaper back. Who cares? That's your tough luck."

The Tenant:

"I moved here because I thought this place was in better condition than the house I'd just left but here I am with a room full of brick dust and builders traipsing in and out all day. My little girl hasn't even got a bedroom to sleep in. Well, I couldn't have her sleeping in her cot next to a wall that might fall down any minute, could I? And now the neighbours are complaining about the noise. I know you're doing your level best to get the work finished but I really think you should let me off quite a bit of rent."


The Next Door Neighbours:

"What's all that banging about? Hope it doesn't bring the house down. No need for all that noise surely. We've all had cracks in this street. Mining area you see. We've just filled them in a bit over the years when we've decorated. You sound like you're from down south so what can you know about coal mining? What else can you do with cracks but fill them in and paper over them? We haven't got money for expensive repairs at our time of life. Oh now, look at that! The cracks on our side are opening up again with all the commotion. Are you sure your builder knows what he's doing? Well, I'm just going to have to ask you to foot the bill for our redecoration costs."


The Builder:

"Yes love; they've bodged it from the other side at one time. They've crammed newspapers into the cracks and papered over them. We've done a good job for you from this side though. For one and a half thousand pounds you can't really complain... it'll be good for ten years at least. The old fella from next door came over to see what was going on... most concerned he was. Said he'd sue you if any damage was done to his property. We told him we'd be gentle... as much as you can be gentle when replacing bricks. But the vibration will open up the cracks again next door if they've never been repaired properly on that side. The Party Wall between terraced houses is two bricks thick. Think about it. There you are sound asleep snoring your head off and only two bricks away is your neighbour doing the same. Funny old world. There's a time bomb waiting to explode in these old terraces. People splash out on redecoration and refurbishment but Britain's housing stock is literally crumbling away. They don't seem to care if the walls or the roofs need attention until they start falling down and leaking. The folks next door seem to think all you landlords are made of money. Well, my father was a landlord all his life and all his money went back into his houses. But he popped his clogs with the stress of it all long before retirement and the tax man made more out of his property than he did."


The Loss Adjuster from the Insurance Company:

"No, it's certainly not subsidence so we won't be paying up. It's lateral movement to the rear elevation which isn't covered by the buildings insurance, sorry, what was that you said... walls don't move on their own? Well, like I said it's not subsidence - that would cause a downwards movement in my opinion. It could be that the present pan-tiled roof is heavier than the original slate roof and that might be causing the walls to move. Sorry, that wouldn't be covered by your insurance either."

The Man from The Coal Board:

"Of course there have been two seams mined under these houses but not since 1957 and all movement from those workings has long since ceased. No, you won't have a valid subsidence claim from the Coal Authority. These cracks aren't caused by subsidence I'm certain. It must be the age of the building. Turn of the century houses don't have the same foundations as their modern day counterparts you know."

The Surveyor:

"Not my fault. I did my job. No, I didn't see any cracks. You should have had a more thorough survey carried out - this one was purely for mortgage valuation purposes.

The Landlady's Husband:

"It's all YOUR fault! How could you go and buy a house that's falling down?!"


© 2015 Stella Kaye


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