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Ash
Ash, Solicitor
Category: Property Law
Satisfied Customers: 10916
Experience:  Solicitor with 5+ years experience
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Delayed completion off-plan flat caused by the developer?

Resolved Question:

Delayed completion for an off-plan flat caused by the developer? What are my rights?
Submitted: 8 months ago.
Category: Property Law
Expert:  Ash replied 8 months ago.

Hello my name is ***** ***** I will help you.

What loss have you suffered please? Alex

Customer: replied 8 months ago.
Hi Alex,Thanks for writing back.I paid for my deposit (10%) in July 2015 for an off-plan flat with the anticipated construction completion date of March 2016. But right after we exchanged contracts, I started receiving newsletters saying the competition date would be postponed. So I did not want to proceed with the purchase and would like to get my deposit back. I contacted both the developer (the seller) and my solicitor in early December 2015 hoping to get some information on what options I had. However, after chasing many many times, my solicitor only got back to me in June 2016 (unbelievable I know) saying I am allowed to pull out only by using the developer's service to find a new buyer and paying them a a lot of money (£8,000+) I felt framed by my solicitors they were recommended by the developer when I approached them who promised a £500 cashback if I choose them. Now the completion is scheduled as July 2016 and I have been served notice. Both my solicitors and the developer threatened if I don't 'reassign' the flat, I would lose all of my deposit. So I had no choice but to agree to proceed and pay all the fees they impose. But this also means I will only get around half of my deposit back.The reasons why I think the developer and my solicitors are at faults are:1. The developer delayed the competition several times, from March to July 2016. There was no clause in the contract explaining how the buyer can withdraw, which I believe is against the consumer code for home builders.2. My solicitors did not get back to me with a clear advice on how I could withdraw from the purchase for more than six months! Even if they got back with a firm answer in April 2016, I could have applied for a mortgage and avoided all the hassle now. In addition, their service is sub par throughout the whole process, giving me only template answers, not getting back to me at all, and not 'acting' in my interest at all.3. I suspect the developer and my solicitors are working together to get as much a cut as possible from my deposit. I don't have solid evidence though, just a gut feeling.I therefore plan to complain to the corresponding ombudsman and I'm willing to take this to court if necessary. But I thought I'd get some advice first on whether I stand a good chance.Many thanksTairan
Expert:  Ash replied 8 months ago.

Are you able to calculate your losses Tairan?

Customer: replied 8 months ago.
I have not received my deposit back yet. The solicitors are processing it, aka. deducting my money I suppose. But the losses are:(1) from the developer (the ridiculous fees they charge for the 'reassignment' = £8340(2) from my solicitors = £1119.20 (service fees I paid initially September) + £1500 (fees they want to change for the reassignment) = total £2619.20Compared to the deposit (£20,000) I paid, the losses add up to £10959.20, meaning I will only get less than half of my deposit back.
Expert:  Ash replied 8 months ago.

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.
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://s3-eu-west-1.amazonaws.com/hmctsformfinder/n1-eng.pdf and take it to your local County Court.
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.
If the claim is for £10,000 or less it will be a small claim so you will not need legal representation. Over this value you would need representation for trial.
Can I clarify anything for you about this today please?

Customer: replied 8 months ago.
Thanks for the advice. Just a few more questions:1. Does the claim approach work on any type of business (property purchase)? Should I file different claims for the developer and the solicitor?2. Will if be liable to any fees (or other types of risks) if I lose the claim?3. Is the claim approach better than complaining to ombudsman? If so, why is that?Thank you very much
Expert:  Ash replied 8 months ago.

1. No, one claim

2. If you lose and its above £10k then yes, legal fees

3. You can try the Ombudsman first. They are free but take far longer than Court. A court issue focuses the mind!
Does that clarify? ALex

Customer: replied 8 months ago.
I do have 6 years to go to court and court service is not free... To be honest, going to court is really the last option I would take. What I would really appreciate is your professional opinion/evaluation on my chances of recovering my losses based on the information I have provided so far? Could you help please?Thanks
Expert:  Ash replied 8 months ago.

Correct its not free.

You could seek mediation, as 90% of those settle. Its likely to be £500 or so per party.

Does that clarify? Alex

Customer: replied 8 months ago.
Thanks for that Alex. But could you kindly evaluate my case based on the information I have provided, i.e. is it worth a fight?Many thanks
Expert:  Ash replied 8 months ago.

I think you have an arguable case yes.

Does that clarify? Alex

Customer: replied 8 months ago.
OK thanks.
Customer: replied 8 months ago.
Maybe one more questions.What if the developer and the solicitors argue that I 'agreed' to all the fees. What should be my counter arguments?Thanks
Expert:  Ash replied 8 months ago.

They have been negligent and acted without all reasonable skill and care. Alex

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Experience: Solicitor with 5+ years experience
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