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Ash
Ash, Solicitor
Category: Law
Satisfied Customers: 10916
Experience:  Solicitor with 5+ years experience
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hi, we bought a buy-to-let property on 22 August and recently,

Resolved Question:

hi, we bought a buy-to-let property on 22 August and recently, we received a huge major works bill of £8959.00 for window replacements which took place between Oct 13-Jun 14. the basis of the problem stems from when my usual solicitor (Joanna) went on holiday leaving her boss (Ian) in charge of our case. He sent us a bunch of information in the period of his cover, regarding the purchase of our new property including the outstanding bill for the windows; in an email with attachments. he informs that there are no major works taking place apart from minor ones associated with the windows. He continued to say he will inquire into the situation and let us know his findings. We did not hear anymore from him at this point and we were lulled into false sense of security thinking everything was in hand and he would report back any contentious areas if there were any. when our normal solicitor came back she asked if we had any questions and if we were happy to proceed. As we had no further information from Ian we assumed there were no contentious issues and we proceeded without realising that Ian had not attempted to negotiate the upcoming bill for the window replacement on our behalf, nor had he passed that information onto Joanna on her return. this is her own admittance!
My query centers around the solicitor's responsibility. Taking into the consideration that they knew there was an outstanding bill due in october 14 for work that was already completed in June 14, are they contractually obligated to act on it and negotiate on our behalf? is it neglectful of them not to do that? If so, what are the ramifications in terms of getting compensation, taking complaint further? At the moment, they don't seem to want to take on any responsibility of what went wrong but have agreed to contact the seller's solicitors on our behalf. I'm very pessimistic that the seller would want to take on such a large bill!
We have used Joanna before in the purchase of our previous property where a similar scenario like this took place. she was however, able to negotiate successfully, without any prompt from us. so it is the level of service and care we have come to expect.
Submitted: 2 years ago.
Category: Law
Expert:  Ash replied 2 years ago.
Alex Watts : Hello my name is ***** ***** I will help you with this.
Alex Watts : How much are they saying is due please?
Customer:

£8959.00

Customer:

hi, sorry i missed you when you were on line. I had to pop out for lunch. I'm available until 5pm today. If this is not good for you. could you please let me know when it is convenient for you to chat. I checked my email and it said you've answered my question but i cannot find anything apart from a copy of this chat so far. thanks

Alex Watts : Sorry yes you did say the value.
Alex Watts : Yea they do appear to be negligent
Alex Watts : you should have been informed
Alex Watts : You need to write and set out your losses and request a refund within 14 days or say you will go to Court within 14 days. You should make sure you send this signed delivery and keep a copy.
Alex Watts : If they do not refund you then you can issue proceedings in the County Court. You can either do this online at: www.moneyclaim.gov.uk or by completing form N1 http://hmctsformfinder.justice.gov.uk/courtfinder/forms/n001-eng.pdf and take it to your local County Court.
Alex Watts : The Court will then issue a claim which a copy will be sent to the Defendant who will have a limited time to defend it, if not you can enter Judgment and enforce.
Alex Watts : If the matter is defended it will be set down for a trial. If the claim is for £10,000 or less it will be a small claim and you will not need representation.
Alex Watts : Can I clairfy anything for you about this today please?
Customer:

he sent this to me. how does this stand in relation to what i've told you?

Customer:

Dear Lam,

Thank you for your email to Joanna.

She had passed the file to me to review accordingly.

I would advise that as you are the current leaseholders you are responsible for all payments to the council. Whether or not we can obtain any payment from the sellers is a separate matter and I will pursue this on your behalf. Unfortunately in cases of this nature as it you as the new owners that will benefit from the works rather than the previous owner they are not normally minded to contribute to the same. I am therefore surprised that Council stated to you that they should when they obviously did not bill them but you.

I have accordingly written to the sellers solicitors and will let you know once I hear back.

It is obviously extremely distressing for you to receive such a bill, especially if you were not expecting the same. On reviewing the file, however I do note that these amounts were pointed out to you in our report prior to exchange.

During the course of the conveyancing transaction the council provided a letter dated 11th July 2014 detailing the major works and a copy of this letter was forwarded to you at the time with our report on 1st August. This stated the amount you would be charged would be £8,959.49 and this would be billed in October 2014. These were pointed out to you in our report and we asked you to advise if you required any further clarification or further investigation. Joanna again, asked you this on 4th August but so far as I can ascertain we received no further query from you in this connection.

I will of course let you know once I receive a response from the Sellers solicitors.

Yours sincerely,

Customer:

i have to log off now, but will be checking your responses tonight. Could you also copy your response to *****@******.*** as well please. just to make sure i get it. thanks for you help so far

Alex Watts : You should also complain to the SRA. They regulate solicitors and can investigate for you. They offer a free independent service at www,Sra.org.uk
Alex Watts : Can I clarify anything else you?
Customer:

We will definitely follow through on your advice to complain to the SRA. Your initial advice to initiate court proceedings was quite strong. Do you still urge us to go down that avenue?

Alex Watts :

You first of all write and set out your losses, you dont just go straight to Court.

Alex Watts :

I would write the letter, let the SRA investigate and then consider what next step to take

Alex Watts :

Does that help?

Customer:

yes, thanks a lot. you've been a great help!

Alex Watts :

Can I clarify anything else for you?

Customer:

No thanks. thanks for all your help. will follow up on your advice

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