Property problems: House sale involved likely conflict of interest

Sunday 24 October 2004

Q. Three months ago my family and I moved to New Zealand and purchased a property which my real estate agent had found for me.

The agent recommended a lawyer to me and I had him do the necessary legal work. Shortly after purchase I discovered that the house had major problems: no permits for additions, leaking roof and chattels that did not work.

I went back to the

By The Landlord

lawyer and asked her to take action against the vendor.

She refused, stating that the vendor was one of her best clients. I also found out that my lawyer was the wife of my real estate agent. As a result of the defects in the house, my family and I ended up moving back to England. What can I do?

A. There are several distinct legal issues here: the responsibilities of vendors and purchasers, the duties of real estate agents and the responsibilities of lawyers.

When you are buying a house the principle of caveat emptor, "let the buyer beware", still applies. It is the purchaser's responsibility to check that the property is in good order and condition.

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