Most of the time, when you buy a property, things will go smoothly. However, occasionally issues can arise either during the conveyancing process or after the transaction has completed. We have extensive experience in tackling a wide range of such issues.
When you buy a property, the principle of ‘buyer beware’ applies. This is why many purchasers pay for a full building survey and why conveyancers ask detailed questions (called ‘pre-contract enquiries’) regarding boundaries, neighbour disputes and knotweed. That way buyers have as much information as possible and they can make an informed decision. Even so, there could be problems with the property that do not become apparent until the buyer moves in. Two exceptions to the ‘buyer beware’ principle are fraud and misrepresentation. In other words, if the seller (or their agent) lies to you during the sales process or in pre-contract enquires and that lie induces you into buying the property (i.e. you would not have bought the property you been told the truth), the buyer may have an action in misrepresentation, which depending on the circumstances of the case, could entitle them to damages and/or to rescind the contract (i.e. to return the property to the seller and be refunded the purchase price). We help disgruntled purchasers ascertain whether they have a claim, the remedies available and then take appropriate action against the seller.
When contracts are exchanged for the purchase of a property, the parties become contractually committed to complete the transaction on a particular date. The parties will rely on this by booking a removal company and synchronising completion dates for any related sale or purchase. This synchronisation works its way up the entire chain of conveyances. For this reason, there are significant penalties for parties who delay completion or do not complete at all. Depending on the circumstances, this could include financial penalties, forfeiture of the deposit, forcing the sale to complete or withdrawing from the sale altogether. We advise both buyers and seller on the best strategy for them and work closely with their conveyancers to execute this.
When you buy a property you trust your conveyancer to execute the transaction competently and with due care, attention and skill. In the main, they do. Unfortunately though, partly due to a race to the bottom in conveyancing pricing, mistakes are frequently made. Some of these mistakes never come to light or only come to light years later when the property is sold or someone needs to rely on rights they thought they had. However when these errors do come to light, they often require urgent attention and can have serious consequences. For that reason, it is worthwhile selecting a conveyancer based on personal recommendation and being suspicious of any low pricing.
Common issues that arise include:
- Failing to advise on the existence or effect of restrictive covenants
- Not ensuring that the property has sufficient access rights
- Failing to adequately advise on the effect of onerous ground rent provisions
- Missing deadlines in statutory lease extensions of flats
- Not checking plans properly to ensure that you buy what you think you are buying
We have extensive experience in pursuing professional negligence claims against negligent conveyancers and solicitors in relation to a wide range issues, including those listed above and also group actions on behalf of leasehold flat owners in relation to doubling ground rent provisions – a controversial but widespread issue, that when identified, can make the flat unsellable to anyone other than cash buyers and even then at a much reduced price.
It is compulsory for all solicitors to be insured against professional negligence claims and to have at least £3m cover per claim. Claimants can therefore take some comfort from knowing that if their claims are successful, damages will be paid. However, we have seen, in rare cases, Claimants lose out when both the insurers and the solicitor’s firm have become insolvent and closed down.