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Joshua
Joshua, Lawyer
Category: Property Law
Satisfied Customers: 26070
Experience:  LL.B (Hons), Higher Prof. Dip. Law & Practice
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On a previous conveyancing of a property which completed

Resolved Question:

On a previous conveyancing of a property which completed over a year ago in March 2016 I now find that my solicitor did not arrange for settlement of service charges on the property, which means that I have paid some service charges which should have been paid by the previous owner - an amount of about £300, for which the previous owner received rent from the resident tenant. Do I have any redress in law?
This is all came about because the landlord's managing agents, Regalty Estates wrote to me on 26 September 2016 telling me I owed £887.16 for service charges which were detailed on a statement, which I duly paid, as I didn't want to be in arrears. On trying to sort out my tax affairs I asked for the invoice relating to this balance, only to receive the invoice for the amount of £749.16 for the period 1 January 3016 to 31 December 2016 - a period which included three months before I took posession of the apartment.
I have written to Regalty Estates asking them to refund the amount for which I should not be liable, but their reply after 2 months was to tell me that it was down to my solicitor undertaking my conveyancing to have resolved this upon my purchase of the apartment. Do I have any legal redress against my solicitor?
Submitted: 3 months ago.
Category: Property Law
Expert:  Joshua replied 3 months ago.

Hello and thank you for your question. I will be very pleased to assist you. I'm a practising lawyer in England with over 10 years experience.

May I ask if you have yet contacted your solicitor on the point?

Customer: replied 3 months ago.
No
Expert:  Joshua replied 3 months ago.

Thank you. Your house purchase will have incorporated the national conditions of sale - I say this with a high degree of confidence because with the exception of some very high value transactions involving properties exchanged between holding companies as vehicles for tax avoidance and the like virtually every property sale in the country incorporates these conditions are a minor variation of the same which are published by local law societies rather than the national law society. You can view a copy of the conditions here though I do not suggest or recommend that you wade through them all as it makes for very tedious reading:

https://www.lawsociety.org.uk/support-services/documents/standard-conditions-of-sale-5th-edition/

I would draw our attention to condition 6.3 and 6.4(a) which you will see provides that any service charge, rent etc should be apportioned between the parties on completion. This is your solicitors job and he should have both obtained evidence of service charge and ground rent payments prior to and if necessary post exchange in order to calculate the relevant apportionment.

If he failed to do so 1) you still have a contractual right to receive the relevant apportionment from the seller and 2) if for some reason you are not able to recover the amount from the seller, your solicitor will be liable to you for the same under the tort of negligence.

the simplest way of approaching the matter is to contact your solicitor and raise the issue with him providing him with a copy of the evidence you have obtained in the form of the invoice from the managing agents and asked that he contact the sellers solicitor to arrange the appropriate apportionment. although you have the right to make a formal complaint and escalate the matter to obtain compensation as discussed above, there is little to be gained in going in with "all guns blazing" on your first contact with the solicitor, and informal email or if you prefer letter in the above terms should be sufficient. it is more than likely the solicitor will realise his mistake and be more cooperative.

In the unlikely event that you find your solicitor is less than cooperative upon the point however, you can consider referring the solicitor to the above conditions and his duty of care to you as his client and asked that he reconsiders his position advising that you do not want to take the matter further unnecessarily and should appreciate his assistance.

If you find you are still no cooperation you can raise a formal complaint with the complete partner of the firm, which then has eight weeks to deal with your complaint and give you a final response. If you remain unsatisfied, you can refer your complaint to the legal ombudsman service which has the power to make a final determination which is binding upon the solicitor.

http://legalombudsman.org.uk/

Does the above answer all your questions? If it does, I should be very grateful if you would kindly take a moment to click a rating for my service to you today. Your feedback is important to me. If there is anything else I can help with please reply back to me though

Customer: replied 3 months ago.
Sorry not willing to throw any more money at the proble
Customer: replied 3 months ago.
Sorry - can u give me some advice or not ? I do not want to have a monthly subscription
Expert:  Joshua replied 3 months ago.

May I clarify you last post? Does it relate to the website offering you a phone call? If so I apologise that is an automated offer and entirely optional as is any subscription offer. I trust you have received my above reply. Is there anything above I am able to clarify for you any further or does it answer all your questions? If for some reason you cannot see my response, I can post it again for you. Please let me know.

Customer: replied 3 months ago.
No you haven't answered any of my questions and I am entirely not satisfied
Expert:  Joshua replied 3 months ago.

Sorry obviously something has gone wrong. I will repost my response below. Your house purchase will have incorporated the national conditions of sale - I say this with a high degree of confidence because with the exception of some very high value transactions involving properties exchanged between holding companies as vehicles for tax avoidance and the like virtually every property sale in the country incorporates these conditions or a minor variation of the same which are published by local law societies rather than the national law society. You can view a copy of the conditions here though I do not suggest or recommend that you wade through them all as it makes for very tedious reading:

https://www.lawsociety.org.uk/support-services/documents/standard-conditions-of-sale-5th-edition/

I would draw our attention to condition 6.3 and 6.4(a) which you will see provides that any service charge, rent etc should be apportioned between the parties on completion. This is your solicitors job and he should have both obtained evidence of service charge and ground rent payments prior to and if necessary post exchange in order to calculate the relevant apportionment.

If he failed to do so 1) you still have a contractual right to receive the relevant apportionment from the seller and 2) if for some reason you are not able to recover the amount from the seller, your solicitor will be liable to you for the same under the tort of negligence.

the simplest way of approaching the matter is to contact your solicitor and raise the issue with him providing him with a copy of the evidence you have obtained in the form of the invoice from the managing agents and asked that he contact the sellers solicitor to arrange the appropriate apportionment. although you have the right to make a formal complaint and escalate the matter to obtain compensation as discussed above, there is little to be gained in going in with "all guns blazing" on your first contact with the solicitor, and informal email or if you prefer letter in the above terms should be sufficient. it is more than likely the solicitor will realise his mistake and be more cooperative.

In the unlikely event that you find your solicitor is less than cooperative upon the point however, you can consider referring the solicitor to the above conditions and his duty of care to you as his client and asked that he reconsiders his position advising that you do not want to take the matter further unnecessarily and should appreciate his assistance.

If you find you are still no cooperation you can raise a formal complaint with the complete partner of the firm, which then has eight weeks to deal with your complaint and give you a final response. If you remain unsatisfied, you can refer your complaint to the legal ombudsman service which has the power to make a final determination which is binding upon the solicitor.

http://legalombudsman.org.uk/

Does the above answer all your questions? If it does, I should be very grateful if you would kindly take a moment to click a rating for my service to you today. Your feedback is important to me. If there is anything else I can help with please reply back to me though

Joshua and other Property Law Specialists are ready to help you
Expert:  Joshua replied 3 months ago.

many thanks - I apologise if you experienced any teething difficulties with the site earlier. Please do come back to me if you have any follow up questions on the above.