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Deed of Rectification 10 months after house purchase - any obligation to sign?

17 replies

MuffinMclay · 02/03/2007 14:12

10 months after we moved into this house the ex-owner has got his solicitor to send something called a Deed of Rectification that he wants us to sign. He lives behind us now, and also owns the property to the side of of us.
This deed asks us to guarantee that we won't remove one plant in the garden has its roots in our garden (but the bulk of the plant is in his garden), and that we will maintain a hedge on one side of the property.
The plant and the hedge are still intact, but we have added a low fence (willow hurdle panels) between the hedge so that our dog won't escape. That was discussed with him before the purchase.

Are we under any legal obligation to sign this? I should know the answer to this (ex-alwyer, many moons ago) but I don't. Dh is also a lawyer, but this is not his area of expertise. My worry is that we'll sign it and then he'll start legal proceedings against us if any of the plants die.

The chap behind this is a nasty piece of work who falls out with and bullies everyone who works for him or does business with him. I'm worried about what is behind this.

Any thoughts?

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TheBlonde · 02/03/2007 14:21

Surely the solicitor who did your house purchase can advise you?

I wouldn't sign and can't see why you should be obliged to

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Freckle · 02/03/2007 14:24

Is he offering you anything in return for signing the deed? If not, I'd send it back unsigned. Why should you take on further obligations without some consideration on his part?

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FioFio · 02/03/2007 14:24

Message withdrawn

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MuffinMclay · 02/03/2007 14:28

Yes, that solicitor could advise us, but we'd have to pay to instruct him again because completion has long since gone through. We're rather reluctant to do so, at this stage, when we have nothing to gain from signing.

At the moment we're playing for time. The deed they sent was so badly drafted (countless mistakes with names, dates, our address etc) that we've sent it back and explained why we can't sign it as it is.

I'm hoping that because it has gone through and we've got the Land Registry documents with our name on it, that should be that. The letter from this chap's solicitor says that our purchase will not be complete until we sign this deed. Doesn't make sense to me.

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FioFio · 02/03/2007 14:29

Message withdrawn

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TheBlonde · 02/03/2007 14:30

Agree with Fio sounds like a try on to me

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Freckle · 02/03/2007 14:32

Was there anything in the contract referring to a Deed of Rectification? If not, then they have no means of forcing you to sign it. Sounds like your vendor suddenly thought about this and is now trying to pull a fast one.

If the solicitor is deliberating misleading you (by saying the the purchase is not complete until you sign - if there was nothing in the contract about it), then I would complain to the Law Society.

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Twinkie1 · 02/03/2007 14:32

www.hmrc.gov.uk/manuals/sdltmanual/SDLTM00305.htm

Hope you can copy and paste this into your search bar thingy - I hope it helps - am crap at links takes me 5 minutes to work out what to put where!!

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MuffinMclay · 02/03/2007 14:53

Sorry for the delay. I got side-tracked by MIL on the phone.

Yes, I think he is trying to pull a fast one. He has a terrible reputation in the village for that kind of thing, which we didn't know about until we moved here. (He extorted £500 from me just after we moved in. It was a week or so after I'd given birth. I'd had no sleep, and would have had difficulty remembering my own name, and I stupidly gave him a cheque just to get rid of him, but that's another story...).

Freckle - can we complain to the Law Society if he isn't our solicitor as such?
Interesting idea about him offering something in return. Perhaps if we asked for some payment we would see how important all this was to him.

Twinkie - I'll check that out. Thank you.

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twelveyeargap · 02/03/2007 15:20

AFAIK, you're only responsible for the boundaries as stated on your deeds/ contracts. That is, usually you only have one side to maintain and if you have a house adjoining the rear either you or they will be responsible, not both. He can't force you to maintain a hedge which is not one of the boundaris you are responsible for.

According to this Garden Law Website roots or branches protruding onto your land are effectively "tresspassing". You are entitled to cut them or insist that your neighbour does.

It also says here that your neighbour can ask you if he can trim his own hedge from your side, but you don't have to allow it.

No idea how correct all this is of course, but a good starting point.

I would sign absolutely nothing. The fact that his plant is "tresspassing" on your land shows that he is in the wrong to begin with.

What you agree verbally with him is up to you, but I'd be miffed at him sending this sort of legal nonsense.

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MuffinMclay · 02/03/2007 16:18

Thanks 12yeargap - that is really helpful. I probably didn't explain clearly. The hedge that he wants us to maintain is our responsibility, as stated on the title deeds. He owns (and rents out) the house on the other side of the hedge.

I'm slightly baffled about the use of the word 'maintain' in this context. Does it mean keep (i.e not remove) a hedge, or does it mean prune/feed etc the hedge. We've done both, so it isn't a problem as such. When we bought the place our solicitor said he though 'maintain a hedge' merely meant keep a barrier of some sort, whether hedge, fence, marking where the boundary between the properties lies.

I'm not going to agree anything verbally with him. He'd deny all knowledge the next day. He hasn't said a word about any of this to us at all, even when exchanging pleasantries.

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Mirage · 02/03/2007 19:46

I\have to maintain a hedge,as my garden backs onto fields.In our case the owner of the land sold off part so the previous occupier of our house could enlarge his garden.Therefore the deeds to the extra land state that we must maintain a stock proof hedge.As the field has beast in it there is a good reason & has caused us no problems.I just cut the hedge twice a year & thats that.

Your neighbour sounds as though he is up to something though.Good luck!

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MuffinMclay · 03/03/2007 09:53

Thanks for all the advice everyone. Dh is going to talk to this chap's solicitor on Monday. We'll see where it goes from there.

for all the typos yesterday - I was typing one-handed whilst MIL haragued me about various things on the phone.

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Freckle · 05/03/2007 09:26

You can report any solicitor to the Law Society. Whether they will do anything about it is another matter.

It's interesting that his solicitor wrote to you rather than to the solicitor who dealt with the conveyancing for you. If this is linked to the purchase of the property, I would have expected him to contact your solicitor.

Sounds as though they are writing to you because they feel they can browbeat you into doing something which you are not legally bound to do.

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Freckle · 05/03/2007 18:58

Ran this scenario past dh (solicitor who does commercial law but occasionally deigns to dirty his hands with residential conveyancing ). His immediate reaction was "What are the vendor's solicitors doing contacting another solicitor's client directly? Serious breach of professional etiquette." He wouldn't comment on the deed itself without seeing all the paperwork, but did concede that it sounds very dodgy - particularly when the solicitors are contacting you directly rather than going through your solicitors.

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MuffinMclay · 05/03/2007 19:18

Interesting Freckle.

Perhaps he did it because once the purchase was complete then technically he wasn't really our solicitor any more? Perhaps this chap's solicitor is embarrassed to be sending out the document and would rather our solicitor didn't know about it?

Still not sure where we are with this yet. Hope dh has made some progress with it today.

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Freckle · 05/03/2007 19:22

Gosh, you're more generous than am I! If the matter is linked to your purchase of the property, then they should contact the solicitor who acted at the time. After all, this was less than a year ago, not 10 years ago.

I suspect they did it because they know their client doesn't have a leg to stand on and were hoping that you'd just sign it without questioning.

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