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F E Smith
F E Smith, Advocate
Category: Law
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I have just bought my first house and paid the amount

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Hi Pearl, I have just bought my first house and paid the amount requested on the completion statement. I recieved an email from my lawyer syaing "funds all received" and that "the house is yours." Then I recieve another invoice in the post from them asking for £292 which shouls have been included in the origibal invoice but they did not add it up ciorrectly. I recieved no explanation for the mistake and no apology, just a request for the money otherwise they cannot "finalise the registration of the property into your name." I queried the reason for the additional request for money (although it was obvious they had just made a mistake) and then had an email back saying you still need to pay it as "At the bottom of any completion statement it states E&OE which means errors and omissions accepted which means if there is an error we can let you know." I feel very badly treated by this company and they made many mistakes during the house-buying process which I let go at the time, but I do not want to pay them any more for a substandard service and for a mistake they made themselves. In a shop, if they have put the wrong price on something and you go to the counter, they still have to charge you the lower price, even if it's a mistake. Is there no similar rule here? Thanks and best wishes, Rosie
JA: Where are you? It matters because laws vary by location.
Customer: In West Devon.
JA: What steps have you taken so far?
Customer: None other than to email them asking for an explanation and saying they already emailed me saying all funds paid and the house is now mine.
JA: Anything else you want the Lawyer to know before I connect you?
Customer: They are saying the final amount will "allow us to have payment of the remaining £292.37 in order for us to register*****in your name.
We will not be able to finalise the registration of the property into your name until we have the funds to do so. However, the Land registry fee stated on the invoice are £95 and I have alreday paid this in the original amount. The money owing is for SEARCH FEES (including VAT). So technically I have already paid them for registering the land under my name, as far as I understand it?

Welcome to Just Answer.

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who was the convenyacing company?

and what were the other issues you had with them?

Customer: replied 16 days ago.
Thanks for your email. One example that springs to mind was when we had a completion date set for some time around the 25th of August (I can check if need be) and the solicitor had vaguely mentioned that we would need 7 days to request mortgage funds prior to the completion date. So I emailed him over a week before the proposed move in date and received an autoresponder saying he was out of the office for about a week, which meant we could not go ahead with the move. He did not keep me up to date with what was happening or tell me he was going away. I then had to contact the estate agent and say, sorry, but our solicitor is away so we need to push the date back. I then tried to call the office number the solicitor had left for any urgent enquiries but there was no answer and no answer machine facilicty so I couldn't even leave a message. His communication was generally very bad and several times I felt he could have explained things to me that would have made the process smoother and less stressful, especially as I had told him I was a first time buyer and knew nothng of the process. At times, he would ask me what we should do, when I needed his advice! So on that occassion we had to cancel the van we had booked for moving and there was another issue that caused further delay when he decided to tell my mortgage provider that the house may have had work done which had no proof of being done to building regulations. After weeks of delay waiting for the bank to reply, the bank said they could no longer offer me the mortgage without the building regs paperwork, so we passed this to the vendor's solicitor and they had someone come in and check and found that building reg paperwork was not required because nothing had been done that affected the structre of the building. So that all added about a month to the process, meanwhile I was desperate to leave the flat I was in because we were surrounded by scaffolding and builders. And he didn't really stress to me that there was a possibility that the bank might pull out, so that was another propoed move-in date cancelled (and van etc etc). I have the 'amended' invoice if that would help?
Thanks for your help.
Customer: replied 16 days ago.
Conveyancing company was H&C Lawyers.
Customer: replied 16 days ago.
File attached (216MM77)
Customer: replied 16 days ago.
File attached (GQGQ5MS)
Customer: replied 16 days ago.
File attached (1PG44L4)
Customer: replied 16 days ago.
File attached (LSZMGM1)

The mistake jumps out at me. They added up the completion statement incorrectly.

They added the first list of figures up as 171, 054.40 whereas it should have been 171, 346.77,

The difference is, lo and behold 292.37.

Negligence, incompetence, breach of the provisions of the Consumer Rights Act-failing to carry out the job with reasonable care and skill, call it what you like.

Incidentally, they are not solicitors, they are licensed conveyancers.

My argument is that you have paid all the fees in respect of the land registry so that isn’t outstanding and they should go ahead immediately and make the application for registration.

They have added it wrong.

My suggestion would be to tell them that as this is their error, and they haven’t apologised or explain why or even pointed out what the other was, you will meet them halfway and if they don’t like that, you will pay the whole lot under duress/mistake to get the job finished and then you will take them to the Small Claims Court to get it all back on the basis that you paid under pressure/duress/mistake

AND

you will make a complaint to the Council of Licensed Conveyancers.

If this were my firm, I would readily agree to meet halfway but that’s their choice.

It’s annoying, as you say, no explanation and no apology.

The correct figures are shown, but not pointed out, and the later completion statement where you will see that the addition of the top column of figures is different than the earlier one.

I am glad to help.

Hopefully, I have answered your query in a way that is simple and easy to understand.

I would be more than happy to clarify anything else for you. In the meantime, thank you once again for using our services.

I am happy to answer any specific points arising from this.

Please be aware that my answer is based strictly upon the information you have given me.

If you still need any points clarifying, I will be happy to reply because the thread does not close. In fact, it remains open indefinitely.

I am always happy to answer any further questions you have on any new thread in which case, please start your question with, “ For FES only”.

That only applies to new threads, not this one. You have me exclusively on this one.

Thank you.

Best wishes.

FES

Customer: replied 15 days ago.
Thanks so much for your help and advice on this. So if I offer to give them half would you then recommend threatening to go to the small claims court to get the money back or is that just too much effort for such a small amount? It's more the principle for me. Can I tell them that I have sought legal advice from a solicitor and then lay out your suggestions? Thanks again. Best wishes, Rosie

I wouldn’t do that yet.

I would make them a “kind offer”.

“Thank you for your correspondence, the contents of which are noted.

I have looked at this and clearly, you made a mistake in the addition on the first completion statement.

I paid you all the money you asked for.

I’m disappointed not only that you made a mistake, but you haven’t told me that you have made a mistake, you haven’t pointed out the error, and nor have you apologised.

You simply ask me for money almost intimating that it’s my fault.

I accept that you made the mistake and I accept that we are all human with respect, any competent conveyancing computer package would do the addition automatically.

You charged the market rate for the conveyancing job and I would expect it to have been carried out with reasonable care and skill.

You were paid over GBP900 for doing the job (I’m not bothered about the VAT, I’m only bothered about how much money I pay) and I don’t expect mistakes.

I will meet you halfway with the cost.

Please confirm that is acceptable and I will arrange for you to be put in funds immediately.

If you do not accept that, my rights remain fully reserved.

Yours

Customer: replied 15 days ago.
Great, thank you again for your help. Kind regards, Rosie

No problem at all. I am glad to help. Please come back to me at any time if anything needs clarification. Kind regards.

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