9:15 AM, 25th October 2014, About 9 years ago 16
As an interested daily reader of Property118 and seeing the professionals who utilise it, I was hoping someone could offer their opinions. Our situation is as follows:
We purchased our existing home in Bristol as a new build in December 2010 from a well-known developer (the name sounds not too dissimilar to a brand of bread!). We’re currently in the process of selling and buying somewhere bigger and were due to exchange last Friday and complete today (24th October).
Last week it emerged there was still an outstanding query relating to a contaminated land assessment made at the time of the build which had to be resolved prior to our buyer’s mortgage lender releasing the purchasing funds.
Subsequent investigations have revealed that the necessary documentation was submitted by the developer to the council in January 2011. They appear to have received no response but instead of chasing decided for whatever reason to forget about it, leading to it remaining outstanding.
Unfortunately, unless this is resolved not only can we not sell our home but both the developer and potentially ourselves are open to litigation from the council for building and living in what effectively amounts to an illegal property. However, despite both developer and council acknowledging existence of this issue, neither is prepared to get it resolved – the words of a Conveyancer within the developer’s legal department were ‘as this development completed some time ago now, our planning department will probably not follow this up any further’.
I’ve looked through all the paperwork provided to us by the solicitor who acted for us in our 2010 purchase and there is absolutely no mention of this oversight or the potential consequences it could bring – if we’d known about it at the time we certainly wouldn’t have purchased it.
Discussions with a neighbour who is also trying to sell have revealed that they are having problems of their own – the developer hasn’t granted them legal access to either their own driveway or any of the shared amenities (bike shed etc.). It seems as if the developer has cut a number of corners when building these houses but doesn’t want to take any action to resolve them.
I should mention there are 16 houses on our site and so all are technically unable to sell and are open to potential legal action as it currently stands.
As of this morning our solicitor was urging the developer to get in contact with the council to get this sorted, but judging by their conduct to date I don’t hold out much hope of this happening.
Through no fault of our own and having followed all advice provided to us, we now have a house we can’t sell and could be prosecuted for owning!
My questions are:
• Has anybody else experienced such problems when purchasing new build properties direct from a developer/
• Should I leave this to our solicitor to sort, or should I escalate further with local MP, press etc. to highlight the conduct of the developer?
• If I do escalate and make this issue public, am I not just exposing us and our predicament to a wider audience and so increasing the chances of action being taken against us by the council?
• Should I first seek legal advice over what potential action we could face?
I know this isn’t a landlord-based issue, but any advice that can be provided would be greatly appreciated.
Thanks in advance