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AIBU to claim 'compensation'/partial refund from solicitors?

(13 Posts)
Crisscrosscranky Sat 13-Aug-16 07:30:32

We bought a house a couple of months ago - completed in mid June. Our conveyancer was a PITA the entire process (slow to respond to emails, gave conflicting advice, never answered her phone...) but we got there in the end. The day before we completed we paid all monies owed including £695 in conveyancing fees and the stamp duty on the property which would be paid on our behalf by the solicitors.

A month after completing my DH got a letter from HMRC to say the stamp duty hadn't been paid. His name was on the HMRC letter as Purchaser 1. Purchaser 2's name is blank hmm

I contacted the solicitors immediately by email and an assistant phoned to advice that they'd contacted several other customers but unfortunately we'd got our letter before they contacted us- several payments of stamp duty had been made but with the wrong reference meaning the payment hadn't been attributed to our purchase. I was told it would be sorted immediately and to ignore the letter. I questioned why my name wasn't on the tax demand (I put in all the money for deposit from an inheritance so I was a bit worried I didn't actually own the house!) - apparently this is normal. I was cross that a) they hadn't bothered to contact us and b) they'd cocked up something so simple but I thought nothing more of it.

Yesterday DH received another letter from HMRC - they now want the stamp duty plus interest as apparently it's still not been paid. I'm fuming and now worried that she's cocked up elsewhere in the conveyancing and the reason I don't appear on the tax demand is because I don't actually own it (although I am paying the mortgage)!

I've emailed the solicitors and if I haven't had a response in writing by Monday lunchtime I will paying them a visit on Monday afternoon.

I know that solicitors are expensive but I really feel I've paid £695 for bugger all (we paid extra for the searches!)and I'm still having to send emails, chase up paperwork 2 months after we completed.

WIBU to demand a refund, at least partially, of our conveyancing fees? angry

listsandbudgets Sat 13-Aug-16 07:43:37

I think that the first thing you need to do is find out who the land registry think own site the house. Go to their website and you should be able to get the details. I think it costs a few pounds but under a fiver from memory.

When you know whether you've been registered as an owner you can make further decisions about what you want from solicitor.

Ideally they should ensure you are on deeds, pay stamp duty and any interest on your behalf and compensate you in some way for the inconvenience.

Only communicate in writing from now on. You may eventually need to complain about them to the regulators so it's best if you can document as much as possible

listsandbudgets Sat 13-Aug-16 07:45:12

Sorry for typos got a 4 year old trying to "help"

MinistryofRevenge Sat 13-Aug-16 07:45:37

No, you wouldn't be unreasonable, unless a full refund of the fees isn't sufficient to cover all the losses they've caused you, in which case you'd be unreasonable not to claim the lot. I'm a solicitor; if my fuck up caused loss to a client, I'd fully expect to have to compensate them in full. That's why solicitors can't practice without indemnity insurance.

You should have been given the name of the partner whose responsibility it is to deal with complaints; get in touch with them on Monday, whether or not you've heard anything from your solicitor. You may also want to check on the Land Registry website to see if you're registered as the owner (though if the solicitor has failed to pay the stamp duty, they may well have failed to inform the Land Registry of the purchase). It only costs a couple of quid to get a copy of the deeds, and in this case it'd be money well spent, I think.

rollmeover Sat 13-Aug-16 08:21:27

This is appalling- contact (hone not email) the Law Society first thing on Monday for advice. Solicitors have to abide by a code of practice and this falls below the standard expected. (And gives other solicitors a bad name). Then tell the solicitor you have contacted the law society and that should be enough to put a rocket up them and get things moving.

Crisscrosscranky Sat 13-Aug-16 08:25:43

Thanks for all your advice. I will check land registry ASAP. I knew buying a house was stressful but this has been something else!

listsandbudgets Sat 13-Aug-16 08:30:42

Check land registry early today op they are taking some of their services off line after today

Crisscrosscranky Sat 13-Aug-16 08:33:10

Just downloaded land registry title deed - it's the previous owner's details. That'll be another £3 I'll be claiming back from them! angry angry angry

KP86 Sat 13-Aug-16 08:36:02

That's terrible!

Make sure you record hours spent (and activities) sorting this and claim back £50/hr in costs as well.

Good luck and keep us updated.

LIZS Sat 13-Aug-16 08:42:26

Land registry can take a few months to update, so not an unusual delay. I think you need to follow the practice's complaints procedure the. You can go to the Law Society if no joy.

listsandbudgets Sat 13-Aug-16 08:43:04

That's utterly appalling OP.

Can you report your own post and ask for the thread to be moved to legal matters or property where you may get people with more experience in this. The land registry are running a bit behind at the moment..
We had issues registering our house purchase earlier this year but our solicitor kept us up to date with what was happening and it took about 2 months so it may be pending

I think you may need a new solicitor to sort this out. I'm furious on your beh

No point checking the Land Registry, they won't register the transfer without the certificate from HMRC confirming the sdlt has been paid. This sounds like a simple admin error and should be sorted out relatively quickly. No penalties will be payable if the return has been filed on time and the duty paid to HMRC.

Even if it is an oversight on the part of the solicitors it will be simple to sort. They should pay any interest or penalties at no cost to you. As mentioned by a pp, make a complaint if not sorted quickly.

As for a refund of your fees, you do realise that a LOT more work will have been done than the amount you paid? I don't do residential often but the last time I did the firm were paid £600 for over £2k of work. Meanwhile the agents raked in several thousands for doing sweet fa.

Crisscrosscranky Sat 13-Aug-16 10:26:41

Thanks Cake.

We didn't use an agent - it was a private sale between family members. I provided copies of all building certs etc as she said it would take too long to get them off the seller's solicitors (seller was my aunt so I had access) - literally all they did was searches (we paid an additional £400 for these), pay stamp duty, update land registry and ask mortgage lender to release funds. 2 of those things haven't been done.

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