Sally Rogers contacted Fridaysmove shortly after our report on her Home Buyers Survey woes.
Our attention was drawn to her case by the BBC’s Rip Off Britain programme. She wanted to clarify some points that had been misreported when the programme went to air.
Mrs Rogers told Fridaysmove that, contrary to the Rip Off Britain report, the evidence of rats in her home was actually widespread and unhidden when the Chartered Surveyor conducted their Building Survey. Rip Off Britain also reported that the ombudsman had ruled in favour of the Surveyor. This is not the case at all. In fact, the ombudsman has yet to resolve the issue.
Property Survey case highlights home buyers' trap
Mrs Rogers told us that, for her and her husband, this had become an issue that had outgrown their own battle for compensation.
She said that “a massive grey area” existed around seller disclosure. She approached Rip Off Britain because she wanted to draw attention to a “loophole whereby vendors, unless questioned specifically on the subject, don’t have to disclose a known problem so serious it can render your home uninhabitable. ”
Building Survey more than double Fridaysmove price
Mrs Rogers agreed with Fridaysmove’s argument that the real rip off was the exorbitant price she was quoted for a Building Survey. There are not many people who can afford a £1000 Building Survey. Hence, Mrs Rogers went for the (still vastly expensive) ‘cheaper’ option of a £600 HomeBuyer Report. This may have been the reason that the rat infestation was not reported.
Mrs Rogers told us that her home was worth £290 000. For a home of this value, Fridaysmove would have charged the family £420 for a full, comprehensive Building Survey – this is significantly less, even, than the HomeBuyer Report the Rogers settled with.
Eighteen months after they first bought the house, the Rogers are still waiting for a decision. This could well be handed down in the next fortnight.
The “loophole” that Mrs Rogers has become ensnared by raises fundamental questions about the relationship between buyer and seller. Should the buyer have been more wary? Or is this a case whereby the heavy-handed justice of the ‘caveat emptor’ principle should have been mediated?
When the ombudsman delivers their verdict, will be conducting a thorough investigation into this case and its ramifications for the Property Survey consumer.