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My builder owes us money but is using a different company name - what next

(10 Posts)
LemonDifficult Wed 08-Dec-10 11:52:37

Our builders have seriously messed up a project and owe us thousands in damages. They have now gone completely silent and yet I've been told that they are now operating under a different name and that the director just moved the assets like van and property over.

This is extremely frustrating. Is there any come back for me?

Many thanks in advance

FullaDoll Wed 08-Dec-10 11:54:58

Hi there, the same thing happened to us. We were renting our flat through an estate agent, they collected the rent from the tenants, but did not pass it onto us. We took it to the Ombudsman who ruled in our favour, then the company closed down but opened again with the same people a day later. We never got our money back.

Apparently there is nothing we can do. Sorry to tell you this. I hope you have better luck than us.

LemonDifficult Wed 08-Dec-10 12:11:56

Were you able to pursue anything by saying they had personally promised, etc? I'm wondering if I can pursue this because we dealt with the Directors. Can we say we took a personal guarantee of the work?

FullaDoll Wed 08-Dec-10 12:18:06

Well, the money was ours, they collected it from the tenants, but decided to keep it instead of passing it onto the landlords (us). They said the company had "financial problems" but legally they are not supposed to use clients money for operational purposes.

They owe us thousands. Had we got the money back that they stole from us, we would not have to have borrowed from my in-laws (if anybody reading this read my thread).

In any event, if I were you, I would look into taking them to the County Court. Don't let them get away with it. It will eat at you forever.

LemonDifficult Wed 08-Dec-10 13:30:15

What does that involve? Was there a reason that you didn't do that?

Thanks for replying. That sounds so stressful - do you know them/ever run into them? Unfortunately, these builders are quite active near us and we have to watch them staying in business while we're hugely out of pocket.

lindsell Wed 08-Dec-10 13:46:25

There are ways of going after directors who move assets to avoid debts however it can be a long drawn out and expensive process so you have to have a good claim in the first place and be certain that there are assets there to get your hands on.

I'm assuming from what you say that you have a claim against the builder but you have not actually started any legal proceedings, is that right? If so you would usually need to commence proceedings first, obtain judgment and then use that in order to get the company wound up - a liquidator will then be appointed and the liquidator as the power to overturn transfers of assets which have been made for the purposes of avoiding paying debts.

If you want to do this then you need to consult a solicitor as such claims are often fraught with difficulty and as I said can be costly.

A guarantee usually has to be in writing so to be able to rely on that then you would need a letter/email etc referring in clear terms to it (unlikely I suspect from what you say about the operating method here).

You might also want to complain to trading standards and if he is a member of any professional organisation (master builders etc) then complain to them too.

LemonDifficult Wed 08-Dec-10 14:02:07

Lindsell, thank you very much for replying.

We do have a strong claim against the company, and our solicitor was pursuing it (cost so far £6000!) but the Directors just stopped replying. I got upset by how much we'd spent and told solicitors to stop writing letters which get no response as it was costing us so much. Is there any way of getting a judgement without using my solicitor? I don't mind writing the letters myself and I have a lot of evidence (independent surveyor, additional architect's report and so on).

Trading Standards have been involved but say their may not be enough evidence to make a criminal case (although it is enough for a civil one). They are going to look through it all again.

mranchovy Wed 08-Dec-10 16:49:22

Lemon - you've spent £6,000 building a case against a company that's not worth a bean? Did your solicitor not advise you that this was likely to happen? If not, I would say your best chance of recovering any money is from your solicitor - get hold of their complaints procedure and follow it through.

Of course you don't need a solicitor to write a letter to your builder, or take him to court. You might need some help working out exactly who you have a case against though, so probably best to talk to someone who is going to make sure you have all this straight - have you spoken to a Citizens Advice Bureau?

Fulladol, was your estate agent a member of ARLA? They operate a clients money protection scheme and require their members to have Professional Indemnity Insurance against both of which you may have a claim. Not using an ARLA agent is not a very good idea.

LemonDifficult Thu 09-Dec-10 02:18:39

MrAnchovy - thanks, it hasn't gone that well with the solicitors, something the Partner over seeing the matter admitted and he has taken some money off (to bring it down to 6K!). Partly my fault for accepting flashy lawyer recommendation.

I will contact CAB with all the stuff and ask for their advice. It seems amazing that Directors can breeze about like this with no responsibility, jumping from one operation to the next.

etiquettegirl Wed 03-Aug-11 21:28:00

Hi, sorry to raise this up again now, but did you ever recover your money from the builders?

I'd be interested as we are having similar problem with dodgy builder (runs a loft company).

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