Conveyancing fees due if we have not exchanged?

BMR1995BMR1995 Forumite
1 Post
MoneySaving Newbie
My partner and I were due to buy our first flat late 2019 and got sucked into Help to Buy and buying from a developer.

When we found a flat we liked, had our offer accepted and paid the £500 reservation fee to the developer, the estate agent put us in touch with the developers 'recommended' solicitor who we asked for a quote. The solicitors came back and helpfully said that the developer would pay for the legal fees (up to £1,800). Our solicitor asked for £500 on account (which would then be reimbursed in the completion monies) which we paid.

Exchange was delayed for one reason or another (never due to us, we wanted to expedite the whole process) until covid hit. When covid hit, the developer said the property would not be ready to move in to until September 2020 which was a staggering 10 months late from the date we were originally told we could move in. Because of this we asked for support with our rent which increased significantly as flatmates moved out meaning we paid (and continue to pay) the full rent. The developer refused and negotiations broke down meaning we never got as far as exchange

1 - We requested that the developer refunded our reservation fee which they refused. We are pursuing a complaint through the warranty provider as we understand that this fee is refundable should the development be unreasonably delayed. Is there anything else we should be doing?

2 - We have today received an invoice from our solicitors asking for a further £804.57 on top of the £500.00 on account we have paid. The line on the invoice reads 'Professional Charges relating to the purchase of the above property and to all work incidental thereto, as agreed. Transfer of legal ownership of the property'. It is also worth noting that their website and previous correspondence reads that their firm's legal fees benefit of a 'no purchase, no legal fee' guarantee. We are happy to pay for searches or disbursements on our behalf however are we correct in thinking these fees are not recoverable?  We have obviously questioned this with the solicitor direct however is there anything else we should be doing?

Would appreciate any help you may be able to offer, first time posting on here!

Thanks,

Ben


Replies

  • Comms69Comms69 Forumite
    14.2K Posts
    10,000 Posts Third Anniversary Name Dropper
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    Because of this we asked for support with our rent which increased significantly as flatmates moved out meaning we paid (and continue to pay) the full rent. 

    how does that work? And if so, why hat you got lodgers in? And / or moved yourselves?

    Basically you arent entitled to this
  • princeofpoundsprinceofpounds Forumite
    10.3K Posts
    Part of the Furniture 10,000 Posts Name Dropper Combo Breaker
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    Hi Ben. The details in your contract and any T&Cs you were sent by the solicitor are the main thing here. We can't see them, so can't comment any further.

    If those documents support your position, then the next step would be to make a formal complaint to the solicitors' practice. But there's a good chance they don't support your position, as most solicitors retain the right to bill for work done.

    You also specifically highlight this 'no purchase, no fee' guarantee, which is interesting, but the paperwork should specifically outline the terms of such a guarantee.
  • SMR710SMR710 Forumite
    159 Posts
    100 Posts Second Anniversary Name Dropper
    "1 - We requested that the developer refunded our reservation fee which they refused. We are pursuing a complaint through the warranty provider as we understand that this fee is refundable should the development be unreasonably delayed. Is there anything else we should be doing?"

    The development is delayed due to a global pandemic no one predicted only 4 months ago!!! If you think that is an unreasonable reason for delay then I do wonder what exactly you think IS reasonable?
  • AdrianCAdrianC Forumite
    40.9K Posts
    Eighth Anniversary 10,000 Posts Name Dropper
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    Did you get a "no-sale-no-fee" agreement off the developer's tame solicitor? Of course not. So, yes, you pay. No sale, so of course the developer aren't paying.
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