One months rent robbed by ex-owner of new flat

by Readers Question

10:35 AM, 2nd October 2017
About A year ago

One months rent robbed by ex-owner of new flat

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One months rent robbed by ex-owner of new flat

I am at my wit’s end, please help. I purchased my first property in Scotland, Edinburgh, a Buy to Let flat, that already had 4 tenants in it, from September 14th to next year, paying total of 2100GBP / month.

Total cash funds were transferred to the solicitors based in Fife, on 19th September 17, and they transferred the money to the selling solicitors who received on 20th September. This is when l became the owner / landlord.

On 22nd September, I rightfully requested the property manager in Edinburgh, for my share of the rental payment since my ownership of said property was from the 20th of September. The Edinburgh property manager, informed me that rental payment from the 14th September to October rent had already been paid to the x owner. Oh no.

As the x owner is only entitled to rental payment of up to the end of 19th September, ~£350 gross for September month, won’t the selling solicitors be aware of this in the process of settling payments and liable? I have been advised not to escalate and inform the relevant authorities, as the selling solicitors should be aware of this situation. But obviously I feel uneasy, being short (‘robbed’) £1750 gross.

Should l just go ahead and contact Scottish Legal Complaints Commission, SLCC against the selling solicitors, as the solicitor we used to buy the property is very carefree and passive; it’s been several days and he has not updated us on the situation despite me leaving msgs and emailing for a simple update.

He did say that they have contacted the selling solicitors for me on 25th September , and selling solicitors will get in contact with the seller and he will update me further when they get back to him. It is now September 29th and still no update. He is very passive and services will not be used again. The Law Society of Scotland were emailed about this four days ago, but no reply 🙁 should l phone them?
l believe the property manager’s x manager(the current manager said x manager) collaborated or knew the reason the x owner, cunningly wanted an early payment. Let me explain.

l contacted the property managers today and was told that the x owner, requested an early payment of rent, from the x(?) manager, who he had a good relationship with. He got the early payment. The SAT agreement requires tenants to pay money on 14th of the month and the property managers normally pay ~7 days from then.

l made CHAPS total cash payment for the property on the 19th Sept. the property managers had sent SAT, HMO, Inventory, etc details to my solicitor / the selling solicitors on or before 7th Sept, so they knew it was going on sale; the current property manager confirmed this, that she knew that there will be a change of landlord. Yet full rental payment was made to x owner. the property managers have his phone number, email and contact address but will not give it to me. can the property managers be charged for this or made to give x owners’s details?

I also contacted the selling solicitors and asked if the moneys had been settled with the x owner, but they said they would only communicate with my Solicitor. I had emailed all of them on ~25th September about this, but they didn’t respond to my email, even though I was the buyer of the property. It is most likely the x owner, has been paid in full as it was a full cash payment and was told by my solicitor that l could collect the keys on 20th sept. l am robbed, it is my family’s life savings.

Who do you feel is more responsible for this clandestine thievery or for this to even occur and how could l legally get back my money? from x owner, the property managers or solicitors? I have now got the home address of the x owner, he lives in a plush victorian detached house in Edinburgh. I am considering sending a registered post requesting for the money otherwise unpleasant things will occur like legal action. Suggestions and thoughts please.

I spent a lot of time explaining, please give me at least a direction or who I can turn to.

Thanks so much

Sophie



Comments

Paul Kaye

11:32 AM, 2nd October 2017
About A year ago

Hi
I would write to the previous owner and give them 10 days to forward the rent owed to you,copy the agents with the same demands.
If not paid ,state you will go to court and sue for the money ,along with costs and damages and interest.Mention the police may be contacted,as this will be fraud if not paid to you asap.
good luck,you will get your money I am sure,and if you end up going to court,you will win your case.

terry sullivan

11:33 AM, 2nd October 2017
About A year ago

go after his solicitors

Paul Kaye

11:34 AM, 2nd October 2017
About A year ago

ps
The rental property manager must also be insured and a member of an association? so check this out too.

Graham Bowcock

11:38 AM, 2nd October 2017
About A year ago

Dear Sophie

The responsibility for this seems to lie with your solicitor. Quite rightly the vendor's solicitor cannot deal with you and neither can the letting agent - you are not their client. The agent will have taken instructions from their client, the vendor and, presumably acted accordingly.

The key though is what as agreed about apportionment of rent payments. Whilst you are seeking payments on a daily basis, which is understandable, the contract should specify exactly what the arrangements are - this is something for your solicitor to confirm to you. Your solicitor should not have completed on your behalf without ensuring all funds due to you were received; it is therefore vital that you establish the contractual situation before chasing the money.

I would caveat my comments to say that Scottish law is very different to English law; my own experience is entirely dealing with matters (sales and management generally) in England. You need to be very careful about advice you may receive as it may not all apply to your case.

Graham

Kate Mellor

13:08 PM, 2nd October 2017
About A year ago

I am also only familiar with English law, but with that caveat I agree entirely with Graham Bowcock. Your solicitor is your agent & should represent your interests. One of his/her jobs in this transaction is to ensure any & all outstanding expenses attached to the property (i.e. Ground rent) has been paid up to date by the vendor & that any income from the property is correctly apportioned between buyer & seller. He/she should have requested these details in writing from the vendors solicitors prior to completion & the rent owing to you should have been held back by your solicitor with only the difference being transferred to the vendors solicitor. I have recently sold a tenanted property in England & the buyers solicitors took care of these elements.

Going forward I would suggest you make an appointment to have an initial consultation either with another solicitor taking with you your contracts of sale documents or Scotlands equivalent of the Citizens Advice Bureau to ensure you act correctly, but I would say that you have two options which I would likely start concurrently.

Write firstly to your solicitor expressing your concerns and dissatisfaction regarding their failure to ensure you received the rent owing to you and requesting that they explain why this was not done and reimbursing you for your loss. If you are still not satisfied you should write again and explain this and that you intend to make a complaint to the law society, or Scottish equivalent. (Perhaps a solicitor could comment on the likely outcome of this action as I am commenting from the perspective of a consumer).

Secondly I would also write to the vendor making a demand for outstanding rent owing to you for the period from 20th September. Give a detailed breakdown of the figures and politely and professionallly request payment to be made by a particular deadline and give payment details. Explain politely if funds are not received by x date you will be forced to make an application to the courts for judgement against the vendor.

Write a draft of the letters and take them with you when you see a suitable advisor to ensure the wording is correct and that they are relevant to the legal systems in Scotland.

Good luck

David Atkins

13:09 PM, 2nd October 2017
About A year ago

As a block manager this happens frequently when solicitors don't cover their clients adequately. I would seek redress from your own solicitor.

Mike W

16:06 PM, 2nd October 2017
About A year ago

Sophie,
I have sold several properties with tenants in situ.
My first comment is that you appear to be a little early off the mark given that the money transaction only took place on 20 Sept. Unless of course you exchanged (concluded the bargain) sometime previously and had plenty of time to think of these issues and discuss them with your solicitor? The rent was due to the seller prior to the 20th and was received (presumably in full) by the factor/agent. The factor does not work for you (presumably) and he was perfectly correct to transfer the whole sum to the seller because he was entitled to receive it.
So what does your purchase contract say in respect of the rent? Presumably you had a copy which you approved prior to concluding the bargain? There are usually standard clauses, for example, relating to boiler and gas checks giving you usually a few days after acquiring the property to check things are working. My recollection of the standard contract (and depending where you are in Scotland there are different standard contracts) is that it does not usually provide for tenants in situ so if it is silent, yes the rent would be apportioned by days for the monthly period (in this case there being 30 days in the month). So your solicitor will have asked the selling solicitor for the sum due to you. It does take time because solicitors usually transfer such sums by cheque and wait the 5-7 days for funds to clear etc. And of course since buying a property with tenants in situ is somewhat unusual, solicitors often forget this little detail. Have you received your final bill from your solicitor?
What have you done regarding the deposit? Has the landlord interest been transferred to you? Do you know where it is held? Have you introduced yourself to the tenants? Have you informed them where rent should now be paid?
In summary I think you have not given your solicitor time to deal with the issue and all your efforts to 'solve' the problem on your own will probably be met with some puzzlement after only 5 working days, particularly with the use of the word 'thievery'. My view is that the matter, if it has been overlooked, is probably in progress and will be resolved shortly. However, I trust my solicitor and often ensure he is always in funds and of course I know I will get the account balanced in due course.

Colin Dartnell

17:55 PM, 2nd October 2017
About A year ago

As others have already said It is your solicitor who has messed up. They are the ones you need to chase. They are working for you and should have dealt with this on completion so funds were allocated correctly.

Who told you not to escalate, and why, could it have been you solicitor?


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