Buying or selling a property can be complex and sometimes stressful, made worse if you receive negligent advice from a conveyancing specialist.
We understand the need for a seamless conveyancing process and how complications can give rise to further conflict and difficulty. Our team of property negligence solicitors are on hand to support you if you feel let down by an expert in this regard.
To provide further guidance, we’ve answered some frequently asked questions concerning conveyancing below. If you still wish to get in touch to discuss a claim, please contact us.
Conveyancing refers to the transfer of property from one person to another. Many professionals are needed to help with the different stages of the conveyancing process; one of which is a solicitor, who looks to ensure all the legal considerations and potential issues are covered before the sale of the property goes ahead.
This is supposed to leave the seller and the purchaser with peace of mind that everything is in order with their transaction. As property is often our most valuable asset, we heavily rely on the expertise of solicitors to help ensure the process runs as smoothly as possible.
This is why it is hugely distressing when mistakes are made that can lead to loss in relation to a property.
Right up to completion of the sale, there is the opportunity for things to go wrong or missed, which is why the work of a solicitor is key in avoiding mishaps which could have serious financial impacts. For instance, when a negligent solicitor fails to uncover vital things about a property, it can leave the purchaser at a big loss. If this has happened to you, you may have a claim for conveyancing negligence against your solicitor.
What are some examples of conveyancing negligence?
There are many instances where a conveyancing solicitor may be negligent, including:
A conveyancer has missed restrictive covenants
When you purchase property, you may have plans to extend or renovate it, or even completely demolish it and start again. If there is an unknown restrictive covenant on the property, you may be unable to get planning permission to perform such desired changes.
This is because restrictive covenants put in place an agreement which requires the buyer of the property to refrain from a specific action, such as making drastic alterations to the property. This might leave you with a property you would not have purchased, had you previously been aware of such restrictions.
A conveyancer hasn’t made you aware of any leasehold issues
Property is usually sold on either a freehold or leasehold basis. If you own the freehold, you own the building and the land it stands on outright, as opposed to leasehold which means that you just have a lease from the freeholder (sometimes this is the landlord) to use the home for a set number of years.
If your purchase is leasehold, it is important that your solicitor establishes both the length of the lease, and the exact terms of it. Failing to do this may result in vast additional costs to you to re-negotiate the terms of the lease.
A conveyancer has failed to investigate a Good Title
The investigation of ‘good’ title involves establishing whether the seller of the property is legally able to transfer the property to the new owner, as well as looking into whether there are any defects in that title that would adversely impact the buyer’s interests.
For example, the solicitor will need to examine each deed to the property to ensure that there are no hidden rights to the property that could affect the new owners.
A conveyancer has failed to tell you there isn’t a building regulation certificate
When a property has an extension, or any significant building work on it, the house owner should obtain a completion certificate from the local buildings council to confirm that it has been finished to the required standard of safety.
If you inherit a property that does not have such a certificate, you may be required by law to remove or alter the building work which can prove to be expensive. If your conveyancing solicitor has failed to inform you there is no building regulation certificate on the property, they may have been negligent in their duties to you.
A conveyancer has missed easements or rights
An easement refers to the existence of a right of way through a particular part of land. For example, someone may be granted the right to a pathway through the garden of a property, meaning that they have the right to use it when they please.
Your solicitor should report to you any easements over the land you are buying. If they did not and you have discovered one, this could amount to conveyancing negligence.
A conveyancer has failed to raise planning or environmental issues
If the property is located in a particularly vulnerable area (such as a near a river) and your solicitor has not obtained an environmental report of the surroundings, you may end up living in a flood prone area without prior knowledge.
This could seriously damage your home and its value. It is therefore vital that a conveyancing solicitor makes you aware of the surrounding area’s vulnerabilities. This is one example – land instability, the presence of chemicals and other unwelcome issues may be others.
A conveyancer has failed to tell you the property, or part of it, isn’t within the seller’s title
One of the core features of conveyancing is the inclusion of a title plan showing the extent of the land in question by ‘red edging’.
When buying a property, it is important to make sure the physical boundaries match the boundaries shown on the title plan, or you may not end up with what you thought you were buying.
A conveyancer has acted without authority, including from one joint owner
If the property is jointly owned, it is a legal requirement that permission to sell the property comes from all owners. If one or more people were not consulted, this could have serious consequences, including court proceedings being issued and complications over who has legal rights to the house.
A conveyancer gave incorrect or no advice about the meaning and effect of contract/transfer/deed
A conveyancing solicitor should explain exactly what each of the legal documents are and the processes involved with each, as well as the effect the legal process will have on you.
For example, the deeds of a property relate to the chain of ownership for land and property and are vital for owning and later selling a property.
If you believe you have suffered negligence in any of the above categories, or in another way relating to conveyancing and property, then you should get in touch with our conveyancing negligence solicitors to see if you have a professional negligence case. Call 0808 164 0808 today.
How much can I claim for conveyancing negligence?
Each claim is different depending on the circumstances of the conveyancing negligence. As a general rule, your compensation level will be to try and put you back in the position you should have been in had the negligence never occurred.
Below are some examples of conveyancing negligence claims:
- You buy a property, but the conveyancing solicitor has failed to advise on flood reports despite your instructions to. This is found to be negligence. But for that negligence you would not have bought the property, and can show that on the balance of probabilities. You would then seek to claim the difference between what the property is worth against what you paid for it, with any fees you paid for negligent work. Experts would be involved to confirm valuations.
- You advise that you are buying property to develop further housing. Planning permission is expected and the conveyancer knows your plans, however restrictive covenants are not identified so this scuppers the plan. You go for this opportunity and pass on another. The claim would revolve around a loss of opportunity as you have missed the chance of planning permission and a successful development on the other option. In addition, you would say you would not have bought the property if you’d had the proper advice given to you on the restrictive covenants.
- A Deed of Trust is established with you and your partner to confirm the split that each would be entitled to, in relation to a house purchase when it is disposed of (say where friends purchase but put in unequal amounts). Incorrect drafting leads to a dispute upon sale causing a fall out. If negligence is proved, the Court would step in to correct this so you receive the proper amount, if mitigation efforts between the parties themselves did not work.
What time limits are in place to bring a property negligence claim?
To make a claim for solicitor or conveyancing professional negligence, you must be in time, which is known as the ‘professional negligence limitation period’.
Generally, if your solicitor has failed to perform to the professional standards required of them, and you have suffered damage or loss as a result, you have six years from the date of the negligence occurring.
There can be exceptions to this time limit, for example if you were not aware of the negligence until a later date. However, it is important to seek legal advice as early as possible to avoid any issues with limitation dates.
How are conveyancing negligence claims funded?
Our property negligence lawyers are happy to discuss fee options and advise clients under a wide range of fee structures including working under:
- an existing legal expenses insurance
- a fixed fee
- traditional hourly rate retainers
- a “No Win, No Fee” basis
Contact our no win no fee property litigation solicitors today
If you have been let down by an expert in the instance of conveyancing and property purchasing, and want to find out more about professional negligence compensation claims, please call our conveyancing negligence solicitors on 0808 164 0808 or contact us online.