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JGM, Solicitor
Category: Scots Law
Satisfied Customers: 11551
Experience:  30 years as a practising solicitor.
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We have sold our house in Scotland. As a condition of the

Customer Question

We have sold our house in Scotland. As a condition of the settlement, £1000 was retained from the settlement figure by the purchasers and we were asked to obtain a letter of comfort to confirm that no load bearing walls had been removed when the kitchen renovation had been performed and also whether mechanical ventilation was required in the bathroom. The purchasers moved into the property on 28th March and we have 6 weeks to obtain a letter of comfort.
We instructed an architect to perform a check for these two items and he has confirmed that no load bearing walls were removed but mechanical ventilation is required in the bathroom. We are prepared to pay a tradesman to fit the mechanical ventilation in the bathroom.
However, when we received the report from the architect, he also mentioned that the rear stair to the property does not conform to building standards and the door sill is hazardous. How he came to this conclusion is rather dubious. Apparently he asked the purchaser if he could leave by the rear door and the purchaser pointed out that there was a deep step over the door sill. There is no access to the street when you exit via the rear door of the property, it is an end terraced house and you have to walk round the pathway to the front of the property to access out the front gate. What this indicates to me is that the purchaser initiated this action regarding the rear step. We did ask if this had been discussed with the purchaser, it shouldn't have been as he was there under instruction from us, not them, and he is being rather evasive on this point.
Anyway, architect is refusing to issue the letter of comfort unless the rear step is fixed. Our argument is that this did not form part of the original condition of settlement. The original condition of settlement was only regarding the issues in the kitchen and bathroom. The rear step was not mentioned in the home report nor was it brought up at any point prior to settlement, it is only being mentioned now.
Also, the purchaser is now saying that they don't want us to fix the mechanical ventilation in the bathroom. They are considering making some changes to the bathroom and haven't decided on where the fan should be, so they want the money instead. How this value will be agreed has not yet been discussed.
We feel that we are being held to ransom and that this is going to be an ongoing saga and next week something else will be uncovered, meanwhile the clock is ticking on our six week window to get the letter of comfort.
Our solicitor is not really doing his job and providing any advice, he is just acting as a go-between and if anything, siding with the new purchasers in saying that we have to fix these issue.
Any advice would be much appreciated.
Submitted: 4 years ago.
Category: Scots Law
Expert:  JGM replied 4 years ago.
Thank you for your question.
A letter of comfort is issued by the local authority after inspection by a building standards officer. The letter is confined to the issues raised on the application for the letter of comfort. A private architect can't issue a letter of comfort.
Can you clarify what has been going on here?
Customer: replied 4 years ago.

Hi, the architect that performed the inspection is authorised by the local authority to inspect and issue letters of comfort. Apparently only he and the local authority can issue letters of comfort in the Perthshire area.

If you require any further information, please let me know.



Expert:  JGM replied 4 years ago.
That is unusual. However, he should not be dealing with matters that he's not instructed to.
Your contract to the purchaser is to provide a letter of comfort on the two matters in the kitchen and the bathroom. If the door sill doesn't comply then that is no longer your problem. It is an issue between the current owners and the local authority.
As far as the mechanical ventilation is concerned, again this will be governed by the contract you have with the purchasers. If your obligation is to instal the ventilation as opposed to paying for it then that is what should happen.