Cesar Basanta won compensation after previous owners lied to him about flooding… story in the Daily Mail…
We never would have bought Riverside Cottage had we known the gardens flooded…
Cesar came to Featureworld to gain justice over a nightmare six years after he bought what he and his wife thought was their dream home…
Indeed, with five bedrooms and a stream running through an idyllic garden, Cesar and Caroline Basanta believed Riverside House would be their forever home.
Reassured by the former owner, retired army major John Bradshaw that the £470,000 detached property had never flooded, the couple happily moved in.
But 13 months later their dream home in Calne, Wiltshire turned into a nightmare – when the River Marden burst its banks, surrounding the house like a moat.
And now, although the house was never affected by the floods, Mr Bradshaw and wife Norma face a £150,000 bill – after a court ruled they should have told their buyers that the garden, garage and driveway had been flooded in the past.
Last night Mr Basanta, 40, a management consultant, who with his wife has a daughter, three, said: ‘The fact the garden floods has ruined our lives. Caroline, particularly, finds it really depressing when the garden floods as we effectively we become trapped inside the house by a moat.
‘We live in fear that every time it rains we will wake up to find the garden ruined.
‘Had we known the garden at Riverside House was prone to flooding we never would have bought it.’
The ruling marks the end of a six-year legal battle which began after the Basantas bought Riverside House in November 2007 foe £470,000 from the Bradshaws.
Says Mr Basanta: ‘Caroline and I wanted a house with a big garden that was trouble free. We planned to fill our garden with flowerbeds, a beautiful lawn, swings and a climbing frame for a growing family.
‘But as the property was by the river we felt it was prudent to specifically ask if the property, including the land around it and garage, had ever flooded.
‘So when Mr Bradshaw told us face to face he believed the whole area had not experienced flooding in over a 100 years, we were delighted.’
After confirming in writing the house, garage, garden and driveway had never flooded, the sale went ahead and the Basantas moved in.
But in December 2008, three months after the couple wed, they were horrified when the garden and garage were flooded surrounding the house with water on all four sides.
‘Since moving in we’d stored some of our of our possessions in the garage,’ said Mr Basanta, ‘As a result we lost many clothes and items of great sentimental value.’
The couple claimed £26,000 for the lost possessions on their household insurance. But some £8500 worth of damage to the garden – which included relaying the patio, replacing railway sleepers, eroded lawns and gravel – wasn’t covered and in January 2009 the couple decided to sue the Bradshaws for fraudulent misrepresentation and £125,000 damages in the High Court.
The Bradshaws denied all liability.
Mr Bradshaw, now divorced from his wife, told the High Court there had been water ‘ingress’ into the garden in December 2006 but not a ‘flood.’
In a written statement he said: ‘I reiterate there was not a flood: there was a blockage to the bridge culvert under the road caused by branches, rubbish and a mattress.
‘Two inches of water came onto the concrete and part of the garage. I walked through the puddle to the caravan without getting my socks wet.’
He added he had told Mr Basanta, ‘you can’t predict a river’ and following the water ‘ingress’ he laid double height sleepers and gravel to prevent it happening again.
But Mr Basanta said prior to buying Riverside House he’d also asked the Bradshaws if the land or house had flooded during July 2007. Then much of the UK suffered severe flooding with the nearby town of Tetbury submerged in water.
‘The Bradshaws said they’d escaped any flooding,’ he said, ‘although neighbours later told us they’d seen Mr Bradshaw cleaning out the garage after it was flooded. They’d also had to replace the lawn, which was washed away.’
The court ordered the Bradshaws to pay £57,000 compensation to the Basantas plus their legal fees of around £49,000 and their own legal fees – estimated to be around £45,000.
The Basantas claim they have since tried to resell the property and it was recently marketed at £600,000 – some £100,000 less than its estimated value if the garden were not prone to flooding.
‘But telling prospective buyers the garden floods always puts them off,’ says Mr Basanta, ’ so we were extremely disappointed we only got £57,000 compensation as this sum does not represented how much this nightmare has devalued Riverside House.
‘Although we haven’t suffered a flood since December 2008, we still can’t make any improvements to the garden or garage as these would be washed away and destroyed next time it floods. And we can’t let our daughter play in the garden during rainy periods because flooding is always as the back of our minds.’
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