Advice on cars bought in private sales, what rights you have and what steps you can take if you have a problem.
Caveat emptor - let the buyer beware
When you buy privately, you don't have the same rights as you do when buying from a professional trader. It's a case of 'buyer beware'. That means it's up to you, not the seller, to make sure the car is in good condition before you buy it.
The Sale of Goods Act applies to people who sell in the course of their normal business, but for private sales, the only part of the law that applies is that goods must be 'as described'.
So to protect yourself, get the seller to give you written confirmation of the state of the car before you part with any money. They should at the very least agree to it being roadworthy. This written statement becomes a binding term in the agreement.
Has the vehicle been misdescribed?
The burden of proof is on you, not the seller, to show that the car has been misdescribed. If you can prove that it has been falsely described, you could ask for some or all of your money back. Make sure you keep any written description of the goods as evidence. Particularly the original advert.
Get in touch with Consumer Direct who can advise you. You could also take action through the courts.
Are you concerned the car may have a dodgy past?
You can check if the car was stolen or has a history of bad finance by doing a vehicle check through an organisation like the AA, the RAC or HPI.
The DVLA has information on their website that you can use to check if a car has been stolen.
If you've bought a car and it turns out to be stolen you could lose the vehicle and the money you paid for it. If this happens, you might be able to sue the seller for breach of contract. If someone tries to sell you something, it is an implied term of the contract that they have the title to the goods in the first place.
Do you have the seller's address and phone number? If not, you'll have a lot of trouble getting any redress. If it is stolen and you can get hold of the person who sold you the car, you could take them to court to get your money back.
If the person selling you the car still owes hire purchase money on it at the time that you buy it, the hire purchase company own the car and can ask you to give it back to them.
However, you can keep the car if you can prove that you genuinely didn't know that there was any hire-purchase money owing when you bought it. Make the seller give you a signed and dated receipt with the make and registration number of the car on it and saying that there isn't any HP money owing on the car.