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Buying from an individual not a company

The law gives you certain rights as a consumer when you buy goods from a trader, but the extent of rights available to you are different when buying goods from a private individual.

When buying goods from a trader, the law states they should be of satisfactory quality, free from any faults and durable. However, this is not a requirement when you buy goods from a private individual.

The only requirements in a private sale is that the goods are a) the sellers to sell and b) match the seller’s description. Because there aren’t as many legal requirements set by law, buying privately can be very risky.

Matching description (as described)

When a private individual describes goods, this includes the description in any advertisement or verbal discussions you have had with that seller.

Please note that it is always advisable to try and obtain physical copies of any description at the time of purchase, this is because it can be difficult to prove what one person has said to another. In such a situation and in the absence of any evidence, it may ultimately come down to a courts interpretation of a dispute based on the word of both parties.

For example, if you purchased a used car from a private individual and then discover later that the car needs a number of repairs; unless the trader has described the car as ‘without fault’ or ‘in excellent condition’ for example, then you would potentially have no rights to pursue a misdescription.

Sellers to sell (title)

When a private individual sells goods, they must have the legal right to sell those goods. Therefore,  they should be the rightful owner of the goods or have express written consent from someone else to assume ownership or have permission to sell those goods. If goods are subject to a finance agreement, it is very likely that a finance company may own the goods. This is particularly relevant to vehicles.

If you are considering the purchase of a car privately, you may wish to consider checking the car’s status via an HPI check for peace of mind.

Do you have a problem with goods bought privately?

If you have a problem with goods purchased from a private seller and feel that points a) and b) above are in question you can find more information about your rights on the following pages:

I have a problem with something bought from a private seller

I have bought goods that were not the sellers’ goods to sell

Last updated: 18 July 2019

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