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F E Smith
F E Smith, Solicitor
Category: UK Law
Satisfied Customers: 8445
Experience:  30 years in General Practice
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I bought my property(21 Bristol Road, SM4 5SB) 8 months old,

Customer Question

I bought my property(21 Bristol Road, SM4 5SB) 8 months old, but on the completion of property purchase the property had a Rider attached to it, and work the seller has to complete in 6 months. The seller has not completed after the time given to him & seller solicitor has confirmed this in writing on work not done.
The work required could be in the region of 10-15k & would like to sue him
What is the best way of taking this forward & how much could it cost me & how long can it take to reach a conculsion please
10.1The Seller’s Solicitor will on Completion retain the sum of £5,000 from the net sale proceeds (“the Retention”) in respect of the following works (“the Works”):
· Installation of an electric meter to serve 21A Bristol Road and separation of the current electricity supply which is presently used jointly by 21 and 21A Bristol Road. The electric meter serving 21A Bristol Road will be housed wholly within the boundary of 21A Bristol Road. {DONE}
· Installation of a water meter to serve 21A Bristol Road and separation of the current water supply which is presently used jointly by 21 and 21A Bristol Road.
· Removal of the water tank in the loft space of*****which currently serves 21A Bristol Road together with the associated pipes and gas venting pipe for the toilet serving 21A Bristol Road.
· Making good any damage caused to the Property as a result of the Works to the reasonable satisfaction of the Buyer.
10.2The Seller will complete the Works to the reasonable satisfaction of the Buyer within six months of Completion.
10.3Upon receipt of confirmation from the Buyer that the Works have been completed to their reasonable satisfaction the Seller’s Solicitor will release the Retention to the Seller.
Submitted: 3 months ago.
Category: UK Law
Expert:  F E Smith replied 3 months ago.

If the work is going to cost between £10,000 and £15,000, why was only £5000 retained?

Was the retention passed from you, the buyer, to the seller’s solicitor but to be held to your order?

Is the situation now that the seller is in breach of contract and you need to get this work done but need the £5000 back in order to assist you to do the work?

Why did your own solicitor not hang onto the retention?

If we could have the full background detail please and what your question is, that would assist.

Customer: replied 3 months ago.
the Work as estimated by builder/plumber is 10-15k but £5k was something seller & seller solicitor suggested (as seller is builder himself & was going to do the work himself) & my solicitor accepted by showing me the final Rider copy.
The retention came out from the purchase price of 329k, i,e, my money. And yes to be held by my order as stated in RIDER, & if I am satisfied the money would be released to seller
Seller is now in breach of contract & as he knows i can sue him, he wants access to my loft now after 8 months to fix a few plumbing issue but that could damage my loft, damaging anything else will not be his liablility hence i refuse to give him that permission. Yes I would need the money to fix if done myself from my end with professional help.
I dont know why my solicitor didnt have the brain to retain this otherwise i would have got the money without suing him, apparent SRA recons my solicitor hasnt breach its rulesMy question is now what would be next stage to sue seller & how can i get my money paid & how much can this cost me, could you help me further to resolve this?
Expert:  F E Smith replied 3 months ago.

The solicitor hasn’t breached the rules although he may have been negligent firstly if the retention was not enough and secondly by passing the retention over to the solicitor for the seller to hold to your order. As it is now, it’s stalemate.

It is most unwise not to allow the seller access to your loft to fix the plumbing issues because if those issues cause damage, the builder could potentially escape liability. If he causes any other damage, while repairing these issues, he is responsible to rectify that damage.

However, even your solicitor retained the money, the wording of the contract should be that if it was not done by a particular date, the money would be given to you and that term should be in there whether the money is held by the seller solicitor or by your solicitor.

You don’t say whether the seller is willing to do this or not but, if he is not willing to do the work, you are going to have to do it yourself and sue him for the cost.

That’s ultimately what it comes down to.

Can I clarify anything for you?

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Best wishes.


Customer: replied 3 months ago.
hi FES thanks for your reply, I understand what has gone wrong & solicitor negligent, which i have take up with LeO.Seller is willing to do the work as I told him i will sue him if he doesnt. Should I allow him access to my property even when he has runnout of time, is he still liable to fix anything else he damages while fixing the issue stated in RIDER?my question is do i have grounds to sue him, as he hasnt done the work, when electric work was done he didnt make good the wiring from my end so i am not sure of giving him access to my loft.
Expert:  F E Smith replied 3 months ago.

You are under a duty to mitigate loss and just because the seller has done work within 6 months, the drawbridge doesn’t suddenly pull up and he is denied access. However you need to give him a reasonable further period of time, and after six months, I think another 10 days would be not unreasonable, to actually complete the work failing which, then it would be quite in order for you to do it and charge him. The final ultimatum in all honesty should have already been done and then you could have gone straight to court.

Common law negligence, he’s liable for any damage whether it occurs in satisfying his obligations under the rider are for any other reason.

If you are going to deny him access, you need to tell him why and cite his incompetence with regard to the wiring you are going to need some expert evidence in respect of that. What you might want to do is agree for him to do the work but not personally, he must employ competent contractors and he has to supply you with their qualifications.

Customer: replied 3 months ago.
Thanks FES if you were to fight for this case how much time & cost could incur & as 1 of the issue is not resolvable spliting water supply as no way for new pipes i probably have to sue him for that issue. Can i use your advice as proof of comparison please when i take my solicitor to LeO for professional negligance?
Expert:  F E Smith replied 3 months ago.

This is only legal advice. It’s not evidential and what you are going to need is an expert report which, because you are looking at the negligence of the solicitor would be that report coming from a solicitor who has had a complete look at the file. However the Legal Ombudsman and Solicitors Regulation Authority will not look at negligence claims. They will only look at breach of service standard and although they can offer compensation it is not likely to be the full cost of getting this work done.

It’s more likely that the Legal Ombudsman will tell you that you have to bring a negligence claim against the solicitor who will then decide either to deal with it himself or referred to his insurer.