Can I sue over cellar that is too damp to live in?

Q: When I bought my house, the cellar was described as living accommodation but it is too damp. Can I sue the seller?

21 March 2020

A: The Cour de Cassation has previously ruled on this very point and found that the seller is responsible for the description of the house at the time of sale. If a room is described as living accommodation, it must be suitable to be used as such.

The buyer had argued that a cellar was too damp to be used as living accommodation, even though it had been described as such in the sale contract.

The court agreed, and said that if a room was described as living accommodation in the sale contract, it must be able to be used as living accommodation. The seller, it ruled, must make sure it met appropriate standards.

It is the latest in a series of cases which set out the responsibility to give accurate information to buyers.

In theory, there is a higher standard required when the property description is written by a professional, such as an estate agent, whose professional insurance covers cases where there is a genuine mistake.

But sellers who do not use estate agents also have to meet high standards in their description of a property.

Where it is shown these standards have not been met, compensation is usually based on the difference in price of the property which could be expected if full information had been given.

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