Councils using ‘Intelligence’ to track down low EPC properties and fine £5,00015:08 PM, 29th March 2021
About 3 weeks ago 39
I bought an off-plan, new-build apartment in the Adelphi Wharf (Fortis) development in Salford back in 2015 and after a whole year’s delay my apartment was finally finished in November. Or at least that is what I was told by PLS Solicitors, the firm acting for me (and probably most of the other buyers) when they requested the final payment, which I duly made, and legal completion took place.
I travelled from East Sussex to Salford the following week to see the apartment before it’s let (the 1-year rent guarantee period starts 1 month after legal completion) and was surprised to find that I had to wear a high-vis jacket, hard hat and steel toe-capped boots in order to go inside the section of the development in which my flat is situated. The common ways were a long way off completion, as was the reception area, and the unfinished gym was being used to construct kitchen units and store materials. I was told that the basement car parking space, for which I paid £10,000, was not accessible, even with safety gear on.
My flat appeared to be one of the few that were accessible on that floor. It still needed some snagging work done in the bathrooms and the carpets looked as though they had been hurriedly laid for my visit as they were poorly fitted. The contractors told me during my visit that the flat would not be habitable until mid-January because they needed the majority of the flats to be finished, along with the common ways, before anyone can move into that section of the development.
PLS say that I completed on the flat on 21 November because they were told by Fortis’s solicitors that a Warranty Certificate and Building Regulations Completion Certificate had been issued which “confirms that the property is practically complete, ready for occupation and use, and accessible according to the terms of the Agreement.” As far as PLS are concerned they have fulfilled their legal obligations and seem uninterested in the matter.
A local surveyor I contacted confirmed that the communal areas to my apartment should have been completed before I legally completed as I should be able to move in on day one of ownership. In addition, prior to exchange of contracts, he said that PLS should have asked me to visit the property to check that it was either finished or at least had the builders snagging list completed and presented to me. This would have given me chance to inspect the quality of the property before completion.
The icing on the cake is that Fortis forgot to say that the price of the compulsory furniture pack did not include VAT. That was missing from all the paperwork and despite being the developers’ error their solicitors would not complete until this was paid. As it happens, there was no furniture in the flat so I don’t know what I have paid for.
None of the above affects my guaranteed rent, you may say, but Fortis did not ask me whether I intended to let the apartment or to move into it. My previous experience of Fortis Lettings is less than positive and I had been planning to visit a local letting agent with a view to letting the place myself. A cynical person might also suspect that the £9,000 rent has been built into the selling price so there is no pressure on Fortis to let the flat, and in any case they can’t until mid-January at the earliest. On the other hand, I have to pay full council tax from 21 November.
Am I just being a moaning Minnie? How does this match with your experience of off-plan new builds?
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