Following the problems at Wolstenholmes Solicitors, we have been fielding hundreds of enquiries from concerned Wolstenholmes clients with questions, complaints and concerns since Christmas. These are some of the actual questions being asked and our responses. For more information and advice, call us or use the main contact form.
I recently completed a transaction and am worried that the registration has not taken place at the Land Registry and/or stamp duty has not been paid.
We are happy to carry out a check at the Land Registry, free of charge to you, to confirm that the property is registered. If the property is not registered we will either advise to arrange for your file to be transferred to conveyancing solicitors to deal with the registration formalities. It is possible that the costs for dealing with the registration formalities will be met by the SRA Compensation Fund. As for stamp duty, if you have not paid stamp duty you should have received a notification from the Inland Revenue. Furthermore, the property is unlikely to be registered at the Land Registry if the stamp duty has not been paid.
I am concerned because I had understood that my buyers were ready to exchange during the first week of January. What is going to happen to my file? Is there anything you can do to make sure that the transaction proceeds to a quick exchange?
It is definitely not advisable to let your file sit for the intervening solicitors to pick up the file. This could take a number of weeks. Rather, you should instruct another law firm who should take immediate action to retrieve your file. Simultaneously with attempting to retrieve the file the new solicitor should try and resurrect the work by working with the buyers’ solicitors who would normally be accommodating and sympathetic towards your plight. The priority has to be to exchange contracts as quickly as possible. If the buyers are indeed ready to exchange contracts it would be feasible to try and exchange within seven days.
I had instructed Wolstenholmes Solicitors to prepare the paperwork in advance of finding a buyer. I have now found a buyer but am concerned that the transaction is going to be delayed.
The best advice in this situation is to appoint a new conveyancing lawyer to prepare all the paperwork from scratch. This might be a little bit tedious in that one would have to complete the Questionnaires all over again but it is possible to issue a comprehensive set of papers inside 48 hours (especially bearing in mind that a HIP will be available). The estate agent needs to be advised of the new solicitor so that a new Sales Memorandum can be issued with immediate effect.
I completed my transaction a few weeks ago and have received fairly threatening communications from the managing agents that they have not received a Notice of Transfer and Charge of the property (in other words the property is not registered in my name). What should I do?
Part of the registration formalities on a leasehold property is to serve notice on the landlord or managing agent of the new buyer’s ownership. Failure to do this is a breach of the lease and could result in penalties and legal costs. It is advisable to instruct a solicitor to take over the leasehold completion formalities but also check that the Land Registry formalities have been finalised and that the stamp duty has been paid. Your new solicitor should immediately make contact with the managing agents and let them know the position. One would expect them to be relatively understanding. The file will need to be retrieved and the notices prepared. The costs of this should be met by the SRA Compensation Fund.
I have been trying to call Wolstenholmes over the last few days and cannot get through. I am very concerned because I have signed my contract and was about to exchange. Fortunately, I have not sent the monies because I have not received confirmation that they had received my contract. What can I do now, I am very concerned that the sellers will lose their patience and decide to remarket the property.
First things first you should speak to the estate agents and be perfectly honest with them. The chances are that the sellers will sympathise with your situation especially bearing in mind that it is not your fault. You need to immediately arrange to instruct a new firm of solicitors or licensed conveyancers to retrieve your file as quickly as possible. Simultaneously with attempting to retrieve the file they should get in touch with the sellers’ lawyers and possibly, if the Sellers’ solicitors are prepared to be obliging, arrange for a new set of documents to be sent over to be reviewed together with the Home Information Pack. One thing that is important to understand is that any newly instructed licensed conveyancer or solicitor is unlikely to rely on the investigations carried out by the previous lawyer (understandably, they will simply not have the confidence that the investigations were carried out thoroughly). Therefore, undoubtedly here there will be a delay in the transaction but hopefully, assuming you appoint the right property lawyer s, they will drive the transaction through quickly. You need to be sure in appointing a new firm that they are going to prioritise your case. If the new firm is going to charge over and above what you were quoted by Wolstenholmes you should check that they would be willing to claim the additional cost directly from the SRA.
I was hoping to complete my purchase transaction prior to Christmas, in fact I was due to exchange and complete on 18 December. I have since been advised to transfer the balance of my monies including their bill and understand that the mortgage advance was sent to them by my lender, Nationwide. I have not been able to get hold of anyone since 23 December. The seller called me directly on 23 December and I have explained the situation to him but I am concerned about my money and whether or not I am now liable for the mortgage.
It is not necessarily the case that the mortgage advance or indeed any money has been misappropriated. The first thing to do is to find out what has happened to your file. You can either do this directly or you can appoint a new firm to investigate this for you. It will be quicker for the new law firm to have the file and the funds transferred. They will then be able to deal with the exchange and completion. I suspect that any new firm would want to review the paperwork in full anyway and it is certainly advisable that the property is thoroughly reviewed before committing to exchange and completion. If you want the file transferred you will need to speak to a broker and arrange for the mortgage offer to be reissued to the new lawyers. The new lawyer should immediately make contact with the sellers’ lawyers and explain the situation to them. Hopefully, they will take the view that it is worth giving you a couple of weeks in which to exchange and complete the transaction as opposed to remarket the property and go through the whole conveyancing process with a new buyer.