I am selling my house in Lewisham and the EA has just telephoned to say that the buyers are swapping property lawyer. The reason given is that the bank will only deal with property lawyers on their approved list. Why would a big named mortgage company only deal with specific solicitors rather the firm that they want to select for their conveyancing in Lewisham ?
Banks have always had an approved set of law firms that can represent them, but in recent years big names such as Santander, have considered and reduced their conveyancing panel– in some cases removing conveyancing firms who have represented them for many years.
Lending institutions point to the increase in fraud as the reason for the pruning – criteria have been tightened as a smaller panel is easier to maintain. Banks tend not to disclose how many solicitors have been dropped, claiming the information is commercially sensitive, but the Law Society says it is hearing daily from firms that have been removed from panels. Some do not even realise they have been dropped until contacted by a borrower who has instructed them as might be the situation in your buyers' case. Your buyers are unlikely to have any sway in the decision.
Last June we completed a house move in Lewisham. We have noticed several issues with the house which we suspect were omitted in the conveyancing searches. What action can we take? Can you clarify the type of searches that needed to have been conducted for conveyancing in Lewisham?
The question is not clear as what problems have arisen and if they are unique to conveyancing in Lewisham. Conveyancing searches and investigations initiated during the buying process are designed to help avoid problems. As part of the legal transfer of property, a property owner fills in a questionnaire known as a SPIF. If the information proves to be misleading, you could possibly take legal action against the vendor for any losses that you have suffered. The survey should have identified any problems with the structure of the property. Assuming a detailed survey was carried out and the issues were not identified, you may have a claim against the surveyor. However, if you did not have a full survey, you may be responsible for fixing any defects that have now been noted. We would always encourage buyers to take every possible step to ensure they are completely aware of the condition of a property before purchase regardless of whether they are buying in Lewisham.
It is 10 years ago since I bought my home in Lewisham. Conveyancing lawyers have just been retained on the sale but I am unable to track down the title deeds. Is this a major issue?
Don’t worry too much. First the deeds may be retained by your lender or they could be in the possession of the lawyers who handled your purchase. Secondly the chances are that the title will be registered at the land registry and you will be able to prove you are the registered owner by your conveyancing lawyers procuring up to date copy of the land registers. The vast majority of conveyancing in Lewisham relates to registered property but in the unlikely event that your property is unregistered it adds to the complexity but is not insurmountable.
The Lewisham conveyancing firm that just started acting on my house acquisition in Lewisham have without warning shut down. They were on acting for me because I needed a firm on the Coventry BS conveyancing panel and my preferred Lewisham lawyer was not. I paid them funds in advance. What do I do now?
Assuming that you have an Estate Agent in the equation then inform them straight away so that they can let the sellers know that there may be a slight delay due to reasons beyond your control. Hopefully they will be sympathetic and urge their lawyer to send a new set of papers to your new solicitors. You should appoint new lawyers that are on the Coventry BS conveyancing panel and notify the lender. If you have paid over any money, it will hopefully be held by the SRA as money in an intervened firm's bank accounts is transferred to the SRA. Then, the SRA or the intervention agent looks at the intervened firm's accounts to work out who the money belongs to. To claim your money you will need to contact the SRA. If the SRA cannot return money you are owed from the firm's bank accounts, or if they can only return part of the money, you can apply to the Compensation Fund for a grant. Your new lawyers should be in a position to help.
I used Wolstenholmes several years ago for my conveyancing in Lewisham. Now, I need the files however cannot find the solicitor. What do I do?
You should contact the Solicitors Regulatory Authority (SRA) to help locate your conveyancing files. They can be contacted on please contact on 0870 606 2555. Alternatively, you should use their online form to make an enquiry. You will need to provide the SRA with as much information as possible to assist their search, including the name and address in Lewisham of the conveyancing firm of solicitors you previously instructed, the name of conveyancing solicitor with whom you had dealings, and the date on which you last had dealings with the firm.