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Aston Lawyer
Aston Lawyer, Solicitor
Category: Property Law
Satisfied Customers: 10234
Experience:  LLB(HONS) 20 years of experience in dealing with Conveyancing and Property Law
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The freeholder to the property I own has died intestate and the estate has gone to probate

Resolved Question:

The freeholder to the property I own has died intestate and the estate has gone to probate. The freeholder always refused to reply to any communications and ignored my requests for essential maintenance to building to be carried out or to make a claim against the building insurance for damage caused by damp arising from the lack of maintenance.
I have contacted the probate solicitors asking for them to address the problems and pay for the damp damage. They would not commit to this and no longer respond to me. I believe the property is now sold subject to contract but I am still left with the damp damage.
Any suggestions as to my next step?
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: Property Law
Expert:  Aston Lawyer replied 1 year ago.

Hello and thanks for using Just Answer.

I am Al and am happy to assist you with your enquiry.

Have you kept copies of the correspondence you wrote to the deceased Freeholder?

Kind Regards

Al

Customer: replied 1 year ago.

Hi Al,

I do have 2 letters though one is for a dispute over 4 years ago. The last one is for the current problem and that was sent to the probate solicitors.

kind regards

Mark

Expert:  Aston Lawyer replied 1 year ago.

Hi Mark,

Thanks for your reply and apologies for the delay.

Well, the good news is that even if the Freeholder does sell, the new Freeholder is still liable for any claim you have made against the current Freeholder. As you have evidence that you have written to the current Freeholder, there will be no dispute over your claim.

Furthermore, if the Freehold is being sold, it would be usual for the Buyers Solicitor to ask the current Freeholder's Solicitor if there are any outstanding claims or disputes with any of the Leaseholders. If the Solicitor discloses the claim you have made, it would also be usual for the Buyers Solicitor to ask that any claim be settled before advising his client to proceed with the Purchase.

As you have also contacted the Freeholder's Solciitor directly, they would be breaching their duty, if they did not disclose it to the Buyers Solicitor.

If your dispute is not disclosed, and the new Freeholder only gets to know of the claim from you, after he has purchased, he can sue the current Freeholder's next of kin/administrator for breach of Contract.

It may well be a blessing in a disguise that the Freehold is being sold!

I hope this helps and sets out the legal position.

Kind Regards

Al

Customer: replied 1 year ago.

Hi Al,

thanks for the reply.

A few follow up questions if I may.

1. The probate solicitor may well not be the one handling the conveyancing. Is there still a legal obligation for them acting as the estate of the deceased to inform the relevant solicitor?

2. Is there a statute of limitations on claims against the freeholder? and vice versa? The reason I mention the latter is that the freeholder never requested ground rent even when prompted and I wonder if a claim for this can be made against me by the new freeholder.

thanks and kind regards,

Mark

Expert:  Aston Lawyer replied 1 year ago.

Hi Mark,

1. If it is the same Firm acting, then the fee earner dealing with the Probate will disclose your dispute to his colleague in the Conveyancing department.

If it is a different Firm acting in the Conveyancing, the Probate Solicitor would have been under a duty to disclose your dispute to his client, who in turn should disclose the dispute to the Conveyancing Solicitor. The Conveyancing firm may indeed also get in touch with the Probate Solicitor during the course of the transaction, to check where the net proceeds of Sale are to be sent.

2. A Freeholder is entitled to claw back the last years worth of ground rent if this has not been paid. The Freeholder can claim this amount even if he has never sent any ground rent demands.

Your total liability, therefore, is 6 years worth of ground rent.

Hope this helps.

Kidn Regards

Al

Customer: replied 1 year ago.

Hi Al,

thank you.

And finally...

Am I within my rights to claim for my time and expenses in trying to resolve this issue? I wish I could claim for the sleepless nights as well but then this isn't the USA.

kind regards,

Mark

Expert:  Aston Lawyer replied 1 year ago.

Hi Mark,

I am afraid you won't be able to claim for the stress/expenses.

To do that, you would have to issue Court proceedings against the Freeholder, which I don't really advise, unless you want to fork out thousands and have even more sleepless nights.

Good luck!

Best Wishes

Al

Aston Lawyer, Solicitor
Category: Property Law
Satisfied Customers: 10234
Experience: LLB(HONS) 20 years of experience in dealing with Conveyancing and Property Law
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