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Any commercial conveyancers/ property solicitors on here?(8 Posts)
I need some advice on a property I've just purchased and whether I have any recourse against my solicitor?
I bought a property in April of this year- it's a freehold building with shop and leasehold flat above. As there is a commercial element to the property, I couldn't use my usual solicitor and she recommended a partner in her firm. I paid twice as much for this but accepted it as I assumed she would have the experience to back up the extra cost.
From the beginning I was sceptical- her emails were rambling and confusing, she complained about the amount of documents in the legal pack and then just as we were discussing a completion date, she advised me that there would be a delay as I needed another search; she'd only just had a chance to properly look through my file and seen I didn't have one (it was a purchase under auction conditions so the pack had already been compiled). Luckily it came through in time otherwise I would have faced financial penalties for late completion.
After completion, I had to call HMRC on her request as they kept sending me stamp duty payment demands despite me paying her direct.
What also came to light, and what my issue is now, is that the rent from the shop had been paid to the vendor (at the time of payment, he was still the owner so I assume that the management agents were correct to do this).
When I spoke with my solicitor about why this hadn't been accounted for in the completion statement, her words were 'oh, I hadn't thought about the rent'. Surely if you deal with commercial property, this isn't an unusual occurrence? The lease and payment terms were in the legal pack so she obviously hadn't taken much time looking over it.
It has now been over 4 months and the vendor is trying everything not to pay this back. Am I within my rights to ask my solicitor's firm to reimburse me whilst they fight it? Or should I be putting a complaint in?
Any advice would be much appreciated.
She absolutely should have accounted for the rent - failing to deal with this is negligent.
When you instructed the firm they would have sent you a letter setting out their terms of business including their complaints procedure. You need to follow that procedure - I’d be surprised if they don’t just pay up straightaway, but if they don’t you can then escalate a complaint to the solicitors regulatory authority. But start off with the law firms’ procedure, the SRA won’t look at complaints till you’ve done that.
Thanks @RemyHadley! I've been mulling it over so much, I even started to think I should have reminded her there was a tenant already in situ.
Whilst she has been very pro active about contacting the vendor's solicitor, it's just dragging with no resolution- I'm half expecting an invoice for her time!
Should I give her warning that I'm putting a complaint in?
The rent should be apportioned- this is usually provided for in the sale contract and should have been reflected in the completion statement.
@Newcornishmama and if it's not been mentioned in the sale contract, who is at fault? I just want to make sure it can't get thrown back at me if I do make a complaint.
No, it is down to your solicitor to have ensured the rent was correctly apportioned.
She will have a partner noted on your client care as supervisor. Write a complaint email, short and sweet, to him or her, copying in original solicitor dealing.
They'll pay you right away to ensure this doesn't go down the complaints route fully which is when you spend a ton of time on it and have to tell your PI about it (as in, it becomes part of the firm's complaints number).
Make sure that the letter says what happened, rent was not apportioned, you weren't satisfied with the transaction throughout but we're prepared to just pay your fee and move on - it is this that's made you come back to them. You don't want to make a formal complaint but will if this isn't dealt with to your entire satisfaction by the end of the working week. Do that today.
Let us know how you get on.
Much appreciated @MinecraftMother for the boot up the proverbial. I've been wildly procrastinating as I've turned into a total people pleaser and didn't want to get her into trouble!
I had an email back immediately from her asking for my BACS details so just awaiting confirmation of funds.
Now to use this momentum to put a complaint in to the Property Auction House from a disastrous failed transaction last year!
So pleased - mistakes happen, I'm experienced and am an equity partner in my firm, but on any busy Friday this could be me. As soon as I realised I'd pay out, no big deal.
Well done kid!