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Neighbour's buyer wants a legally binding document from us......

(13 Posts)
WashingLion Wed 12-Mar-14 13:45:05

We have been in the process of building an extension on our house which has been complicated/held up by the awful weather. We started with the planning applications over a year ago and involved our neighbours every step of the way as they are very good friends of ours.

In order to access the back wall of our build, we needed to take down their fence and shed temporarily. During the terrible storms, part of their garden fell away into our dig which we are now in the process of replacing, as the retaining walls are up. Our neighbours put their house on the market about four months ago and it sold quite quickly. There have been no problems up until now, when the new buyer saw the current state of her soon-to-be garden and is asking for a legal document from us stating that we will put it back as it was.

In principle, I have no problem with this and understand how the buyer might feel. However, her solicitors are demanding that we put back the shed and fence before she moves in and this will not be possible as the structure will need to be rendered and painted and will not be finished at this point (we are about one month behind schedule).

Our current neighbours have also not told the buyer that we are planning to re-render our entire house and move a bathroom window from its' current position to face their garden (we have planning permission for this). I am concerned that they are not keeping their buyer informed and are just glossing over the construction work we are doing in order for the sale to progress without problem. We do have legal access to the back of our house in order to maintain our property (on their land).

I apologise for the long post. I do feel that the agreement should be between the seller and the buyer and that our agreement to replace everything properly is with our current neighbour. Of course we are going to replace everything (and are in the process of doing so). I also feel that the buyer might be shocked by the ongoing work when she moves in and this might not be a great start to being neighbours. I want to be open and honest and have asked the sellers if we can meet with the buyer but have had no response. I really do have concerns about signing a legal document that does not relate to my property. I also do not want to fall out with my current neighbours - we have considerably altered our plans to date to ensure that they are happy with what we are constructing and we estimate that this has cost us in the region of 30k (we did not know they were planning to move).

I hope this makes sense - if anyone has got to the end and has any advice, I would be very grateful!

Hoppinggreen Wed 12-Mar-14 16:37:33

Sounds to me as if you have absolutely no obligation to provide anything.
You could write to the solicitor if you have their details and tell them your plans and quote the planning information if you want to but it may well scupper the sale and your neighbours will not be happy with you.

Technical Wed 12-Mar-14 16:42:42

What is your solicitor's advice?

starfishmummy Wed 12-Mar-14 16:51:06

As a purchaser I would probably want to be sure that everything was going to be put back properly too. But equally in your shoes I would be very wary about signing without legal advice.

LIZS Wed 12-Mar-14 16:51:47

Are your neighbours going to pay your solicitor's fees ? Somehow I doubt it. Building work is unpredictable so you can't commit to a fixed schedule to suit them. It is up to their purchasers to look up your plans (most councils have documents online now) and decide if they can tolerate what is planned, and your vendors to be honest about the situation re. access etc. iiwy I'd refuse to get involved.

Beastofburden Wed 12-Mar-14 16:55:17

It is quite possible that what has happened is that the buyer agreed to buy the house as it was; during the deal, it became clear things have moved on. Normally the solicitor would ask your neighbour to promise to put things back; as it's your works and you are in charge, they are asking you instead.

On that point, I would reply truthfully to the request saying that this is the timetable for the works. Say that you realise that this is after completion, and give evidence that the works have planning permission and are funded. It is up to the buyer to decide if she is still worried, and if she is, then its up to your neighbours to offer some kind of financial guarantee.

On the other points- that's completely separate. If the seller's solicitor is doing their job they will already have supplied her with a copy of your planning permission, which they can get themselves anyway off the local authority website. And the fact that work will still be underway and there will be disruption- that will be clear when you reply saying that the works will be completed after they move in.

MrsSquirrel Wed 12-Mar-14 16:55:33

It sounds to me like you are being more than reasonable. I know you want to remain on good terms with everyone, but that may not be possible if current neighbours are being less than honest with buyers. I would not want to get involved myself.

smallinthesmoke Wed 12-Mar-14 16:56:37

Did you have any kind of party wall agreement with your neighbours? Send them formally any letter under the party wall legislation? Just wondering, might be completely wrong.

WashingLion Wed 12-Mar-14 18:02:35

Thank you for your posts - they are very helpful. We do have a right of access (and documental proof). I am worried about the buyer's solicitors, really. They have already asked us for our planning documents when they are freely available on the council website (and very easily found). We do not have a solicitor as we have not needed to involve one to date. I do feel that my neighbours (however much I like them) are desperate to sell as they have found somewhere they love and are glossing over our building works so as not to put the buyer off. This will leave us in a very awkward position when she moves in.

starfishmummy Wed 12-Mar-14 19:50:33

Hmm. I don't think that the buyers have any reason to be asking you to provide stuff. If they (buyers) don't want to find it or to pay their solicitors to do so, then surely they should be asking the vendors to supply this rather than you.

Technical Wed 12-Mar-14 21:04:02

I don't think you can be expected to sign anything without legal advice and as your neighbours want it signed so they can sell would expect them to pay.

otoh, your works are jepodising their sale and therefore potentially costing them money wo you insist on them paying your legal costs i would expect them to make a counter claim for the disruption etc. You probably have no obligation to do anything but neithercdid they to agree to shed being moved etc?

The decent thing to do would be to treat the legal costs of taking one off advice as part of the cost of your works and cooperate as much as that advice allows

midgeymum2 Fri 14-Mar-14 17:47:28

Your neighbours are chancers!! You have no obligation to the purchasers of the house next door. Don't offer to indemnify them against a situation that you can't foresee or control. It is up to your current neighbours to satisfy the purchasers, not you.

Nappaholic Fri 14-Mar-14 23:30:08

I agree with Midgey...don't sign anything at all, but by all means reassure your current neighbours (in writing) that you fully intend to make good all of the damage to the shed and fence caused by the works on your property, within a reasonable time frame. The neighbours can show that to their prospective buyers, and they will have to be satisfied with that. It's nice to be nice, but don't go binding yourself into a legally binding agreement just to remain popular!

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