MY HOUSE NIGHTMARE- DAILY MAIL NEWSPAPER- MAY 2009

Home owner Sophie Duffy contacted us to with a story about how she had endured a night with a next door neighbour.


Sophie was upset that the previous owner of her property had not told her that she had also had problems with the person who lied next door.


We sold the story on Sophie's behalf to the Daily Mail newspaper who ran it as an exclusive.

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Householder sues seller over 'lie about nightmare neighbour'


DAILY MAIL NEWSPAPER



When Sophie Duffy was preparing to buy her first home, the owner assured her that the nextdoor neighbour was 'quiet as a mouse'.

Before the sale, Janet Musgrave even filled in an official home information form saying she did not know of any dispute with neighbours.

But Miss Duffy said that after she moved in the next-door neighbour started to make her life 'a living hell', swearing and banging on the walls all night.

She decided to take Mrs Musgrave to court, accusing her of lying on the form.

But Miss Duffy lost the case, even though Mrs Musgrave admitted in court that she had accused next-door neighbour Kevin Mack of threatening to kill her and throwing stones at her window.

Miss Duffy condemned the form as 'not worth the paper it is written on' and warned that other housebuyers could suffer the same fate as her if they put their trust in the answers given.

The form she relied on, the Seller's Property Information Form, is now submitted with Home Information Packs, and the case casts further doubt on the viability of the Government's controversial packs.

Miss Duffy, 35, a marketing manager, chose the three-bedroom terraced house in Amersham, Buckinghamshire, because of its peaceful setting.

She bought it for 247,000 in April 2004. The optional form, described in the HIP as an 'authorised document', asks three questions about neighbours.

One was: 'Do you know of any dispute or anything which might lead to a dispute about this or any neighbouring property?' Mrs Musgrave answered 'No'.

Miss Duffy said that when she viewed the house Mrs Musgrave told her that her neighbour was 'quiet as a mouse'.

But Miss Duffy said that when she moved in, Mr Mack made her life a 'living nightmare', banging on the walls and shouting obscenities, which would keep her up until the early hours.

She said that on one occasion, when she banged back, he came round and tried to kick her front door down.

Miss Duffy said other neighbours told her that Mrs Musgrave had also mentioned his behaviour several times while she had been living there.

She then found that Mrs Musgrave had also contacted the police twice in 2002, a year before she put the house on the market.

Mrs Musgrave admitted in court that she had accused Mr Mack of threatening to kill her, throwing stones at her bedroom window and kicking the fence separating their gardens.

Police records of her calls show she said she was 'concerned for her safety'.

Miss Duffy took Mrs Musgrave to court claiming misrepresentation.

A valuation she commissioned found that had the problem been acknowledged at the time, it would have knocked 50,000 off the value of the house.

Miss Duffy claimed damages of 59,000, comprising 50,000 plus interest. But at Reading County Court, Judge Andrew Rutherford ruled that the disturbances caused by Mr Mack were not 'ongoing', and so Mrs Musgrave did not have to mention them on the form.

Referring to the question on the form, he said: 'Does the question require past disputes which have been resolved to be disclosed?

'Here I think that the answer must be "no".

'The question is aimed clearly at current disputes or current facts which might lead to a dispute in the future.'

He dismissed Miss Duffy's claim in June last year and ordered her to pay Mrs Musgrave's costs, bringing her legal fees to a total of 29,000.

Miss Duffy said: 'If you can't be held liable for refusing to admit that your neighbour is a nightmare, the form is clearly not fit for purpose.

'It lulls you into a false sense of security, but if there is no system of redress, what's the point? The form's not worth the paper it's written on.'

Following Miss Duffy's complaints, Mr Mack moved in with his parents.

Mrs Musgrave, who lives in nearby Chalfont St Giles, said: 'It's all in the past and I don't want to discuss it. The court obviously took the right decision and there's nothing further to say.'

Commenting on the case, Simon Seaton, director of Friday's Property Lawyers, said: 'This form has been used for many, many years in the conveyancing process.

'It does rather make a mockery of the system if a buyer is not entitled to rely on the information.'



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