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Letter from housebuyer's solicitor 4 months after completion - they're trying it on?

(9 Posts)
springlamb Fri 15-Feb-13 15:17:04

Appreciate any learned opinions.
Sold a house last October. House was empty so I never met buyers, the estate agent showed them round 3 times. At the end of the garden there is an escape door from premises on the next road, into the house garden. It was there for the 20 years I owned the house, it's never been opened (all rusted up actually).
Now a letter from the buyer's solicitor demanding that I explain why I didn't disclose the door as they were unaware. Well, they viewed 3 times and it's in clear view. It's not a right of way or such. And a further local authority search has shown planning permission granted in 1990 for it. Surely their pre-contract searches should have shown this up? And the buyers should be making demands of their solicitor, rather than me.
Isn't this a try-on?

mumblechum1 Fri 15-Feb-13 15:38:48

Yes. Just ignore it.

jumpingjackhash Fri 15-Feb-13 15:47:09

Yes, that kind of thing is what viewings and searches are for. I'd ignore.

keely79 Fri 15-Feb-13 16:03:15

As long as you were truthful when you filled out your property information forms, you're not under any further duty to make disclosure - caveat emptor.

FlouncingMintyy Fri 15-Feb-13 16:06:50

What is it that they want from you?

I am having trouble picturing what you are describing. What is an escape door? Does it mean there is access to your garden from a property behind it? That sounds really unusual.

KatieMiddleton Fri 15-Feb-13 16:15:35

Lol at their solicitor sending that to you!

Solicitor fails to mention existence of door from the searches and then bills for letter to vendor way after the fact OR solicitor mentions it in a load of other stuff that buyer doesn't read and then writes letter at buyer's insistence.

I'm no lawyer but I can spot a cheeky bugger and there's definitely one in there somewhere.

Personally I would ignore it. I wouldn't even acknowledge receipt of the letter. If they send another one I would reply citing the door is in plain sight, no attempt was made to conceal it and it should have been specifically mentioned in the searches which are the responsibility of the buyer's solicitor.

springlamb Fri 15-Feb-13 17:43:11

Thanks all. Been out with the dogs and worrying! I think (or am I now imagining) that my solicitor mentioned it to me when I was buying but said that the planning only allowed for it to be opened in the event of evacuation being necessary from the storage unit which backs onto the garden so that it didn't give right of way or anything. It was never opened, hence all rusty, and the storage unit hasn't been occupied for years. I think the owners are seeking planning permission for a residential development and would imagine that would be more of an issue for the new owners!
To be honest I hadn't thought of the door in years, really since I moved out in 2001. I can't recall what I put on the information form but I suppose it must have been 'no' to the rights of way question.
WHY do these things always come up on Friday afternoons when you can't get hold of anyone to discuss!
The letter has come to me via my solicitors so I shall have to give some sort of response (cue bills).
They will be after money - an old neighbour tells me they have commissioned all sorts of work on the house and one of the builders has done a runner on them.

poozlepants Fri 15-Feb-13 17:50:17

I agree they are after money. We had a letter from our buyer's solicitors months after they moved in asking about the state of the drains as they blocked up 3 months after we moved out. I phoned said solicitor who basically said his client had demanded he write to us in the hope we would offer money but that legally they hadn't a leg to stand on.

Famous last words, but sounds a try-on to me too. It sounds to me like there is a door (escape door) which could give access over your (old) garden, but even if that is the case and even if it does involve a right of way, or easement, unless you made a representation that there was no right of way, or similar, that you would have no liability in any case as the duty would have been on the buyer, and their conveyancer, to check. If that is the case (and it may just be worth double-checking what you said in pre-contract enquiries) I'd reply with something along the lines of "Thank you for your letter, the contents of which are noted. No doubt you will have fully advised your client of the position as a result of your searches and investigations into title and there is nothing further I can add." Best, of course, to run past your own lawyer first as there may well be other factors to take into account, but yes, this sounds like a try-on (and I'm also guessing if there was anything specific they had to go on they would mention it). You could always add something along the lines of "you may wish to advise your PI insurers, if you feel appropriate" if you want to be cheeky.

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