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JimLawyer
JimLawyer, Solicitor
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Experience:  Senior Associate Solicitor
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I am due to move into a new apartment on the 11th September

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I am due to move into a new apartment on the 11th September but its looking like for whatever reason this is going to be delayed. During the first viewing of the apartment I asked whether there would be any issues if i moved in on the 3rd September. I was even sent an email after my offer was accepted stating the proposed move in date as the 3rd along with an example contract. But this date was then moved to the 11th as someone from the lettings agency forgot to send me the link to begin the referencing process. I wasn't too annoyed about this as my tenancy ended on the 7th. The referencing was then delayed due to the referencing company not being able to complete my application in time. I had to move my things to a co-workers house for the time being. The referencing was finally completed and approved on the 4th September. I called the letting agent to ask what the next steps were and they said they will book for an inventory check for Friday 10th September and send me out the contract to sign. After waiting some days, I called them up yesterday 8th September and asked when the contract would be sent, as I was still waiting. They said that it would be sent either that evening or the next day (Thursday 9th September). It wasn't sent today, so I called them up again to which they said it would be sent today. I still have not received anything. I really need to move in by Saturday as I cannot take any more days off work, and this was the date that was agreed on the phone (after the first delay).
JA: Where are you? It matters because laws vary by location.
Customer: Manchester,United Kingdom
JA: What steps have you taken so far?
Customer: none
JA: Is there anything else the Lawyer should know before I connect you? Rest assured that they'll be able to help you.
Customer: If i cannot move in by Saturday I will need to pay to stay at a hotel. I have called the agency countless times as they do not answer most of the times they are called. I have emailed one of the agents as well as sent text messages, which have been ignored. I was assured multiple times that I would be able to move in by Saturday 11th September. I have already sent them £175 to reserve the property. Literally all I am waiting for is for the contract to be sent. If I do have to pay for a hotel, is the agency liable for the cost as they are the ones who have caused the delays leading up to the current events? Any help would be appreciated. Thank you

Hello, this is Jim and welcome to JustAnswer. I will be the lawyer working with you today.
Sorry to hear of the issue. I will set out my written answer shortly.

As they agreed the date over the phone, you can hold them to that date - if they deviate from the date you could pursue them for any consequential losses. You are a consumer and there is a verbal contract in place with the move date, which has now been breached.
They may have a complaints procedure and details of their alternative dispute resolution scheme - you could ask them for details as it may be quicker than court action.
If court action is required to recover your losses I would recommend that you send them a formal letter before claim to demand payment within 14 days and say that if they do not pay you, you will issue county court proceedings against them. See attached template as an example of what to say. Please let me know if you cannot see the letter which I have uploaded. You will need to tailor this letter to your situation. The pre action protocol confirms you should send the letter to give the other party a chance to avoid court action and to pay you. The courts encourage compliance with the protocol as it can result in a resolution without having to involve the court.

You may also want to threaten a report to Trading Standards (who can be contacted via this site: https://www.nationaltradingstandards.uk/contact/).

You will need to register at https://www.moneyclaim.gov.uk/web/mcol/welcome so that you are ready to issue the claim in the event they dispute the claim and do not pay you. The website is very user-friendly and you would not need a lawyer to use the money claim site.

Claims with a value of under £10,000 are classed as a "small claim", so legal costs are generally not recoverable and the matter may be dealt with on paper by a Judge, not at a hearing. This means the parties are on an equal footing, so you don’t need to worry about legal costs if you lost.

A hearing may be necessary if the court thinks that oral evidence is required to dispose of the case.
Here is a user guide for the money claim online site: https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/986795/ex50-eng.pdf

The court will then issue the claim and they will send you "notice of issue". The papers are served on the defendant who then has 14 days to acknowledge the claim - they do this by filling out an acknowledgment of service and they post it to the court. They indicate their intention when they do this, i.e. whether they admit the claim in full or partly, or if they deny the claim. If they want to defend the claim then their defence is due by 28 days from the date the court served them with the papers. The central court processing centre then sends the claim to the defendant's home county court for case management and directions - the directions will give a list of dates which you both must comply with.

If there is no settlement then the claim will be dealt with at a final hearing which takes anything from 9 to 12 months from when you start the claim - longer if the claim is higher value. You can pursue the claim yourself or use a law firm. For the hearing you can use an advocate if you wish, though it's not compulsory. I have details of law firms and advocacy agencies if you would like those. Though in a small claim you won't be able to recover their charges from your opponent. A small claims hearing is easy to do, it's quite informal and no lawyer is required.

You would claim the sum for the loss, the court issue fee (details of the money claim fees are listed here at page 5:https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/904862/ex50-eng.pdf) and court interest which is 8% calculated on a daily rate from the date of loss to date of court judgment.

The site allows you to calculate the interest and add it to the claim. If a hearing is required then there is a fee for this too - see page 7 of the previous link for details. Again, that fee is recoverable if you win.

If you win then once you have the CCJ from the court the defendant has 14 days to pay in full. If they do not then it gets registered with the credit agencies after 30 days. You can also enforce the CCJ with the county court bailiffs if they ignored the court judgment.

You may find they just pay you after receiving the letter before action – hopefully they will want to avoid litigation.

(insert their name and address) (insert date)

LETTER BEFORE ACTION

Dear Sirs,

Re: Claim for (insert sum)

I refer to the above matter. (Insert details of the dispute). We verbally agreed a move date and I relied upon that - as you have delayed, you are in breach of contract and I have incurred losses amounting to £......which are for (insert details).

This letter is being sent to you in accordance with the Pre-Action Protocol (“the Protocol”) contained within the Civil Procedure Rules (“CPR”). In particular, I refer you to paragraphs 13 to 16 of the Practice Direction on Pre-Action Conduct and Protocols regarding the Court’s powers to impose sanctions for failing to comply with the provisions of the Protocol.

I therefore put you on notice of my intention to issue county court proceedings against your company for my losses should I not receive payment in full by 4 pm on (insert date 14 calendar days).

Should court proceedings be necessary I will claim the court issue fee and statutory interest. Should I succeed in obtaining a judgment, same will be transferred to the High Court for enforcement against you whereby further costs will be added to the judgment sum.

I trust the above will not be necessary and I therefore look forward to hearing from you as a matter of urgency.

Yours sincerely,

(insert name)

I hope this helps and answers the question - my goal is to ensure you are happy with the answer and have the information you need. If you have any follow up questions then please let me know. I will reply as soon as I can to help with any further queries.

Many thanks,
Jim

Please let me know if the answer helped or if you need me to cover anything else?. I am happy to clarify the answer or if you have any follow up questions. If so, I’d be grateful if you would let me know. I am free most days, including weekends, so feel free to ask me anything you are unsure of.

Best wishes,

Jim

Customer: replied 14 days ago.
Thank you very much, I will definitely look into this further if they still have not sent me the contract and i cannot move by the agreed date. Thank you

No problem, thanks and have a good evening.
Jim

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