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JGM, Solicitor
Category: Property Law
Satisfied Customers: 12092
Experience:  30 years experience in property law.
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I recently purchased a property in a new development. It is

Customer Question

I recently purchased a property in a new development. It is a detached property.
This type of property in that development comes with utility meters installed
on the side of the external wall. Access to these meters are through the side-gate,
which usually belongs to owner of the property.
Unfortunately, ours is the only property in the development where we have no access
to our utility meters because the side-gate through which one can access the meters
belong to the neighbour.
I believe my conveyancer did not alert me specifically to the fact that I will have
to enter someone else's property to read my meters. However, to be fair to her
the contract documents she sent us contained a plenty of generic information that may
or may not apply to the property we are buying. This included the following statement,
"The right to have access to the adjoining property for the purpose of access to and
reading of any meters situated on the exterior of the Property which cannot be accessed
from the Property the person exercising such right shall use reasonable
endeavours to cause a minimum of disturbance". There were several such statements relating to water butts, sewers etc.
We saw the above statement but ignored it because this is a standard clause for all the
properties in the development. This does not come to effect for the type/model of the
detached property sold in the development, as we have seen many such properties in the development. Unfortunately, the property we ended up buying requires us to access the utility meters through the neighbour property. I believe my lawyer should have highlighted this specific clause as it applies to our property.
This has created unpleasant issues with the neighbour and loss of re-sale value of the property. Do I have professional negligence case against my conveyancer?
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: Property Law
Expert:  Buachaill replied 1 year ago.

1. In order to be able to bring a successful claim for professional negligence against your conveyancer, you need to show that the professional service rendered was not that of a reasonable competent conveyancer performing the services you requested. Accordingly, in order to be successful in this action you would, firstly need to be able to show that you queried this issue with the conveyancer and did not merely overlook the issue when deciding to purchase. The law will not give you recovery if you merely assented to the conveyancing being done without raising the issue of any weakness in what was being purchased.

Expert:  Buachaill replied 1 year ago.

2. This is because there is no general duty on the conveyancer to alert you to all aspects of what you are purchasing. You are taken to have inspected the property yourself and to have carried out your own inspections to satisfy yourself about what you were purchasing. So, if you did not carry out a visual inspection and become aware of this issue, then the conveyancer would not be under an obligation to inform you of it, unless you queried the issue. This is because a conveyancer is not taken to be in the position of an insurer to warn you against every aspect of the property you were purchaser.

Expert:  Buachaill replied 1 year ago.

3. So, the bot***** *****ne is that you will only be able to bring a successful professional negligence action against the conveyancer if you queried the issue as to whether all reasonable amenities came with the house including having access to your meter. You will not recover against the conveyancer if you were purchasing the property and did not raise the issue. There is no general duty to warn placed on a conveyancer.

Expert:  Buachaill replied 1 year ago.

4. Please Accept and Rate the answer as unless you do so, your Expert will not receive any payment for answering your question.

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Do I have to specifically request the solicitor to check all aspects of the property I am buying? Is it not the reason we are employing a solicitor to look after our interests? Don't they have duty of care for their clients?
Expert:  Buachaill replied 1 year ago.

5. Whilst you employ a solicitor to look after your interests, the solicitor's primary duty of care is to convey the property to you. It is up to you, as purchaser, to satisfy yourself that you are happy purchasing it. Liability only lies on the solicitor if there is something for which a fault lies within his remit. So, unless you specifically queried the issue with him, or you can show the solicitor failed to raise a Requisition on Title in relation to the issue, the loss will lie with you.

Expert:  Buachaill replied 1 year ago.

6. I know this is not the answer you might wish for. It would be easy to tell you what you want to hear. However, the alternative is to issue legal proceedings which you lose. So, you should be aware that judges are former members of the legal profession themselves. Accordingly, unless there is a clear case of liability, a judge will decide the case in favour of the member of the legal profession. So, for that reason, you need to be certain of liability before you issue legal proceedings against the solicitor.

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
OK. Thanks for your answer. It does not make any sense to me. If we knew the meters need to be accessed through neighbours property, why do we need to ask our solicitor to get clarifications.The neighbour has now locked the side gate, denying the access to the meters. So I have no other way of getting relief?
Expert:  JGM replied 1 year ago.

I see the previous expert has opted out. I do not think you have a case for negligence simply because you accept that the solicitor sent you the information, generic or not, it was there for you to read and investigate further, yet you did not do so. Of current importance, if the neighbour is blocking your access right to read the meter you should see a court solicitor with a view to making a claim in the county court in respect of this. I suspect that a strongly worded letter before action indicating that costs will be sought against them may make your neighbour's see sense. I hope that helps. Please leave a positive rating so that I am credited for my time.

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Sorry for the delay. I was trying to figure out how the neighbour was able to get compensation from his solicitor who helped to him to purchase the property. This is the same neighbour who had locked his side gate refusing access to us. The neighbour claimed against his solicitor that he did not point out to him that he will have to allow access to us to read the meters. So I wonder how he was successful in claiming. This actually did not go to the court but this is happening through negotiation.
Expert:  JGM replied 1 year ago.

He would have been successful because the access right wasn't pointed out to him. The fact that he has now attempted to impede your access is a separate issue.

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Is it not the same thing to me as well? My neighbour did not specifically ask his solicitor if other have access rights to his property either. My need to access meters at someone else's property was not pointed out to me by my solicitor?
Expert:  JGM replied 1 year ago.

You said that it was contained within documentation sent to you by your solicitor. That would be sufficient on the part of your solicitor whether you eat the paperwork or not.

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
The title is generic and is the same document sent to all the purchasers. The neighbour has also received the same document (confirmed by the legal department of the developer). As i mentioned before this contained generic information such as need to allow access to neighbours to read meters, repair side wall etc. But still my neighbour was able to successfully negotiate some compensation from their solicitor. This is what i was trying to understand.
Expert:  JGM replied 1 year ago.

You were told by your solicitor. He wasn't according to your narrative. That is the difference.

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Buachaill replied that the solicitor does not have to inform me, unless I specifically asked him about a particular issue (if I knew the issue I would have). According to him, basically, the solicitor is not under any obligation to highlight issues.We, I and the neighbour, were given the same generic documents. So if one is informed the other is also informed by the same channel. Anyway, if I rate the answer, who do i actually rate? You or the earlier expert who answered the question first?
Expert:  JGM replied 1 year ago.

You can only rate the expert who last dealt with the question as The earlier expert opted out.