Has the conveyancer made a mistake

by Readers Question

11:17 AM, 27th March 2015
About 4 years ago

Has the conveyancer made a mistake

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Has the conveyancer made a mistake

I purchased a property nearly 2 years ago as a btl. All has been fine. 9 months ago I had my first service charge bill with arrears from the previous leaseholder.

I queried this (obviously) as it was a large sum of money – and was a bit puzzled as I knew that I had reimbursed some service charge on completion. I took it up with the managing agents who confirmed that this was outstanding and also with the on line conveyancing company who confirmed that there had been a ‘zero balance’.

I put the two parties in touch and left it at that and heard nothing more until the next service charge invoice which again showed this. I went through the same procedure thinking that they would sort it out, but a change of staff at the management company and maternity leave with the conveyancers (is it only me that gets fed up with this) meant that no progress had been made.

I am now really pushing it before I get into trouble with the management who have had 2 more changes of staff and I have had the response from the conveyancer that they had an undertaking from the solicitor acting for the seller that all outstanding charges would be paid. This (acting for vendor) solicitor has now said that he did not make this undertaking and it appears to be an undertaking from the seller and ‘my’ conveyancer has now emailed and told me that it is now a civil matter and they do not deal with this so I will have to find myself a solicitor who will deal with it.

Clearly I am not happy, and have again spoken to them (and emailed them to tell them to provide me with the specific paperwork that either says it is a solicitor’s undertaking or a leaseholders) and they are now treating this as ‘a complaint’.

Clearly they are distancing themselves from this, but it is not my fault so can’t see how I can be liable, my first thought was to the law society, but can the conveyancers make a mistake like this and then pass the buck back to me and obviously not happy with them not sorting it out when I first brought it up last June.

Many thanks

Elizabethmistake



Comments

Neil Patterson

11:21 AM, 27th March 2015
About 4 years ago

Hi Elizabeth,

I would not be able to comment on the legal aspect with authority, but I am sure other readers can. However, you are doing exactly what I would do and have the solicitors involved treat this as a complaint.

Then if you are not satisfied with the response you can take it to the Law Society and if upheld the solicitors would be able to claim on their Professional Indemnity insurance to compensate you.

Neal Craven

11:51 AM, 27th March 2015
About 4 years ago

Hi I assume you will need to pay the service charge in any event and then make a claim against your legal advisor.

Harlequin Garden

12:01 PM, 27th March 2015
About 4 years ago

They haven't pushed for the previous owner's outstanding as yet, just taken mine - I've taken it up with them as well as I repaid some 'overpayment' to the previous owner when I completed - it's a real mess. I'm not sure that the managing agent supplied the correct information, I've asked to see what they provided to the conveyancer and so far they've only managed to supply a copy of information supplied to a previous aborted purchase.

Advance Block Management

12:21 PM, 27th March 2015
About 4 years ago

The buyer of a leasehold property could potentially take on the debt of the service charge on the property if the previous leaseholder didn't clear this amount. Your solicitor would or should have contacted the managing agents of the block to obtain a sales pack which contains all information relating to the property. Along with this a balance of the service charge account would have been provided. Did you receive this?

Please do not ignore this, (which I know you are not). I know it is frustrating especially if it isn't your debt. But alot of managing agents will often take the lack of effort made by leaseholders to challenge it as an opportunity to add their admin charges and obtain the funds from your mortgage company etc.

Keep the line of communication open with your agents (Do it via email).

I hope it all goes well and good luck.

I

Shakeel Ahmad

21:08 PM, 27th March 2015
About 4 years ago

This is the result of social mobility and using franchised legal firms.

Gary Nock

7:22 AM, 28th March 2015
About 4 years ago

Advance and Neil above are right.

If the conveyancer has not done his job and ensured any outstanding service charges are either cleared before completion or deducted from the purchase price then they have been negligent. A complaint should be made to tbe Solicitors Regulatory Authority. But don't hold your breath.Very few complaints are upheld.

However demands for service charges are governed by legislation. If they are not sent out in the prescribed format, or without being accompanied by a Summary of Rights and Obligations, in a specific form of words and in not less than 10 font, then you can legally withold without penalty. And you have a right to take the case for £65 to a First Tier Tribunal for a determination as to whether you should pay the previous tenants service charges and how much. You can do it by paper submission unless the Tribunal decide a hearing is required and a hearing fee is payable. Usually Freeholders and Managing Agents do not want to go to this extent and either negotiate a reduced settlement or go away. Ipersonally have saved a client £600 in "admin fees" for a ground rent demand sent to the wrong address and with a Summary of Rights served in a 6 font (so small you could not read it)

Harlequin Garden

9:14 AM, 28th March 2015
About 4 years ago

Thank you Gary for the very sound advice and information - the initial email from the conveyancer was 'find yourself a solicitor who specialises in this'. No one has asked who they are, but it is probably the biggest on line agency and many of the conveyancers recommended by Estate Agents are also part of this very large group but with varying names. This is the second time a mistake has been made but this last one was my first time of using them so obviously I thought all had gone well, the second issue was the conveyancer not getting all the information in time for the exchange so I was left with a decision to be made - the decision was to take take the property from them and give them to another solicitor but did cause me to lose some 'benefits' but oddly they that should have come with a new build but the on line company 'waived their fee'. Yes, I'm learning from this.

Joe Bloggs

9:40 AM, 28th March 2015
About 4 years ago

could it be that the actuals have now come through and that the zero balance was on the estimate.

Shakeel Ahmad

10:00 AM, 28th March 2015
About 4 years ago

Like the solicitors & should not expect much from the "First Tier Tribunal "

"First Tier Tribunal" when they operated as Leasehold valuation tribunal they were in my opinion grossly incompetent & one sided.

Check "google" for the postings by disgruntled posters " LVT not fit for the purpose " .

Do not assume that the Managing Agents will not go to the Tribunal. They would go as soon as they feel that they can. There is money in it for them as the lease will allow them to recover cost and their solicitors partners in crime will share the loot as well due to the bias of the LVT.

Irrespective when the actual's come through at the time of the completion of the sale there is a cut off and any over or under is borne by the buyer. There is an exception where the reserves are not calculated and the new buyers gets the credit of the reserve contributed by the previous vendor.

Harlequin Garden

10:36 AM, 28th March 2015
About 4 years ago

I've bought a few over the last couple of years and always had an amount lodged with the solicitor when there haven't been finalised accounts, I had a underpayment recently paid by the previous owner, the only issue being the length of time the solicitor took to pass it on to me (3 months would you believe). This was my first BTL purchase on my own and first leasehold and I'm afraid I wasn't up to speed on it all, but as I had to repay some of the service charge i've a funny feeling that the issue is also with the managing agents, they haven't provided the information given for my purchase to the conveyancing company, only the one prepared for a previous sale. I've not much faith in 'ombudsmen' or 'complaint procedures' either - usually phrases of 'I'm sorry you are disappointed on this occasion ....' type of comment.

Having said all that, it was up to the conveyancer to do the work - not me, and I have to assume that they had all the correct information, I noticed the date and name on the paperwork immediately the managing agents sent me a copy (showing a previous purchaser) so the conveyancer should have as well.

We shall see.

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