Letter of Complaint to my Lawyer for the poor service I had.

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    Letter of Complaint to my Lawyer for the poor service I had.

    Hi All,
    I am in need of some legal advice!
    In June 2013 I made a formal complaint against my solicitor who was instructed to deal with the purchase of my flat.
    As a first-time buyer who has not previously owned a property I feel he failed to provide me with a satisfactory service during my first approach in investing on a property.
    In 2008 I bought a flat with 81-years left to run on the lease. My solicitor made me aware that the number of years left to run on a Lease would affect the saleability and value of the Leasehold interest on the Property. What I was not told was the crucial 80-year period, at which point it becomes a great deal more expensive to extend the lease, also because any valuation of the lease extension takes into account what is known as the "marriage value".
    Apart from failing to point out the 80 year rule at the time when I bought the flat, I was not even made aware that only after two years of owning the flat I could use Section 41 to extend the lease.
    I feel that had I known about it I would have made sure my initial offer took this into account.
    This is a very unpleasant situation and I feel confident I should be reimbursed to compensate for what I will have to pay for as a result of my solicitor poor service.
    They have replied apologizing for not having had fully explored the wider issues surrounding lease extensions and offered a refund for their fees I had paid them at the time of my flat purchase.
    I meantime have been in touch with my freeholder. The premium she is asking to extend the lease is quite consistent and I cannot afford it at all. £9500+legal fees are not peanuts!
    What is the outcome I could seek to my solicitor? I would ask for the full costs implied in extending the lease (premium plus legal fees for both parties) and I would also instruct them to assist me in the process obviously free of charge.
    Am I right? What would be your suggestions regarding this? I know I am in the position of taking my complaint to the Legal Ombudsman and who knows what their outcome would be.
    Any help would be much appreciated!

    Your solicitor may have a defence in that, unless the instruction states otherwise, they were instructed to convey the property to you, not advise on the valuation or investment aspects of your purchase. Your claim is that they should have advised you on the financial implications of the shortening lease and I wonder if this is not within your surveyors remit.

    With hindsight a Section 42 notice should have been served by the vendor and assigned to you. However this was not done and you claim I would ask for the full costs implied in extending the lease (premium plus legal fees for both parties)

    If the solicitor can be shown to be at fault you should be able to claim the additional cost of it falling below 80 years which will be almost entirely the amount of marriage value. I do not see why they should have to pay the full costs of extending the lease including as you say the premium; to do so would put you in a better position than before you bought the flat. Further you would have had to pay the legal costs and surveyors fees of extending the lease in any event.

    Also if you have accepted the refund of their fees are you able to continue with your claim?

    The danger is that if this goes to court you could be painted as a greedy naive purchaser who having accepted a settlement then changes his mind and comes back for more.

    I think you should now consider taking action against your surveyor.


      It is up to you to read the lease before handing any money over.

      The lease clearly states when the lease was issued, and for how long.
      It's an easy maths calculation to arrive at the number of years left on the lease.

      I would never hand over any money if I did not know how long the lease was !


        to SGCLACY..
        I thank you for your reply. I still have not got back to them since their last email only because I do not intend to accept their small offer of refund. Whats more on the same email they apologised that the wider issues surrounding lease extensions were not fully explored by their colleague at the time of my purchase. I do understand that by asking them to pay the full costs involved it would be way unreasonable. But having said that, if I only had a clue of all the financial implications of the shortening lease were going to be only after 5 years of the purchase, I would have taken this into account and probably decided not to progress with the purchase of the flat.
        Since I cannot let more time go past - as this would mean an even further increase on the premium- and considering that I was not even expecting to find myself in such a difficult situation with facing the costs of a lease extension I would - as part of my seeking - ask them to support me during the lease extension process free of charge. Reasonably speaking I do not have a clue of what the additional costs of it falling below 80 years could have been. This in the event I had managed to get the lease extension before the crucial point..


          I would press for the lot and hope ot settle for the difference in value at the time of purchase and the price that you paid, or the the notional cost of an extension at purchase or

          The standard advice "My solicitor made me aware that the number of years left to run on a Lease would affect the saleability and value of the Leasehold interest on the Property" is in my view rather weak, as it is along the lines of " eating too much will make you sick".

          I have to agree that their liability might be limited if instructed to simply convey the property on the basis of a deal that you struck having understood what you were doing and therefore you have to look at the terms of engagement. That said I would argue that as buyer you don't know what you are doing and expect assistance and advice on the deal that you have done without sight tof the lease as is common place, even if it is only as " you do know that means that...."

          Moreover they have strayed into that area with your quote above and the watershed of 80 years is important especially given the timing, so the advice such as it was could have been extended in general terms to "A qualifiying lease with less than 82.5 years to run will be subject to a substantial increase in the cost of an extension when it falls below 80 years. Where buyers intend to rely on their statutory right to extend, there is a 2 year ownership quallifying period." While it is a matter of valuation, it is no more expected that the solicitors advise you on that then the valuer advice you on your full legal rights and options.

          The professional ones do in most cases sadly we the consumer want it all packaged and that leads to the package deals and standard advice as above.
          Sadly I have to criticise all the"associations" for failiing to take a comprehensive view of this by not producing " so you want to buy/sell a flat" guide and buyers wandering about spending 6 figure sums without the first real clue.
          Based on the information posted, I offer my thoughts.Any action you then take is your liability. While commending individual effort, there is no substitute for a thorough review of documents and facts by paid for professional advisers.


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