The issue of conveyancing solicitors recommended by developers failing to warn buyers of toxic lease terms was raised in the Daily Mail yesterday.
Both developers and estate agent chains have panels of solicitors they recommend to unwary buyers – Countryside Properties plc even terms them “approved” solicitors.
So far in LKP’s two surveys of thousands of leasehold buyers, caught up in the onerous ground rent scandal, not one firm has highlighted problems with the lease or advised buyers not to complete the purchase.
Lawyers face backlash over rip-off leases
Lawyers who fail to protect their customers from houses with rip-off leases were last night accused of being ‘developers’ stooges’ and could face a Parliamentary inquiry. Conveyancing solicitors are meant to help buyers understand their contracts and advise them against agreeing a bad deal when buying a new home.
Sebastian O’Kelly, trustee of the Leasehold Knowledge Partnership campaign group, is quoted:
“These conveyancing firms are little more than developers’ stooges. The idea they act independently is laughable. We’ve got to stop developers from having panels of stooge solicitors who they recommend to house buyers.”
Andrew Selous, Conservative MP for South West Bedfordshire – who has been raising leasehold issues in the Commons since 2002 – also spoke out:
“Parliament needs to take action over in-house conveyancers for leasehold houses. These firms then disappear, leaving buyers with no ability to get redress when they have been poorly advised.”
Justin Madders, a former solicitor who is now Labour MP for Ellesmere Port and Neston, said: “I would hope for the profession’s sake that regulators will be able to go to this inquiry and say they have fully investigated what happened – rather than going to a hearing and saying they’ve not looked at it because they didn’t think there was a problem.”
In light of the inherent problems associated with onerous terms in a lease, may I ask if there has been a single case (JUST ONE!) in which a solicitor/conveyancer recommended by a developer has warned their client of the potential consequences attaching to the leasehold terms?
Also has any Solicitor/conveyancer been reprimanded by their professional organisation or others for not doing so.
I am disturbed to note there is cynicism abroad – even at home here in the UK – towards the legal profession and its disciplinary body. I feel it necessary to defend both. If we had not the law, we would have violent and anarchic disorder. The existence of statutes (laws) is not enough to enable you and I to sleep soundly in our beds, it is necessary for there to be professional men (and women) of intelligence and undoubted integrity to practise and rule on these statutes – we would be lost without such men (and women). Solicitors, lawyers, barristers – call them what you will (that boy at the back of the room, go wash your mouth out with soap and water) – will only ever be cursed by lesser men who have fallen foul of the law of the land, and justice. Lets not have anymore dissing of those in this finest of professions.
Methinks conveyancing solicitors working on leasehold sales are not in the front line ‘on stag’ defending us in our beds, mind. My lad did that caper. No quills or ink pots in miles. All back with the generals.
It is precisely because society so depends on the integrity of Rumpole that these failures are so beyond the pale of ethical decency and fall woefully below the standards that could reaonably be expected by the man on the proverbial Clapham omnibus!
Michael, you know very well that my post was not a serious defence of the legal fraternity. The reality is I am way more cynical than you of the entire legal system. Kim, in a post below, suggests they engage in “some more worthwhile labour”. How can I put this gently? I can’t and anyway have no desire to do so. Mugging old ladies is more worthwhile labour than engaging in the law.
Awww David C’mon.,
Firstly I ‘got’ the Irony in your delicious post ‘defending’ the legal fraternity. However, I have spent many a convivial evening with.with Middle Temple benchers and have the upmost respect for that part of the legal profession.
My ‘Worthwhile Profession’ statement meant that ‘Dodgy’ solicitors and ‘crooked’ agents would do better to just *+###+$$££ themselves in the good old fashioned honourable fashion. That way we are all aware of what we are getting. If walks like a duck, quacks like a duck , it is a duck!
“Worthwhile Labour” statement.
We will have to agree to differ on the (entire) legal profession.
I have recurring nightmares about conveyancing solicitors. Especially the ones ‘representing’ the freeholder and appointing our ‘mis’-managing agent.
Excellent News and I ask that MP,s and LKP demand an end to “Stooge” Solicitors of Unscrupulous Freeholders and Managing Agents.
I have witnessed absolutely shocking behaviour by Solicitors whose bread and butter is made in Residential Property sending threatening letters to extract irrecoverable unnecessary sums from innocent leaseholders.
I have personally experienced a solicitor writing to inform fellow leaseholders of a deed variation proposal made by the directors of the Freehold co. However I was written to 3-4 months later than my fellow shareholders and the email was sent to an out of use email address ( That old trick) Thererfore , I was unable to agree to the variation and fellow shareholders were misled into believing that I ignored the request.
As a result, the numpty directors were told that they would have to apply to the FTT because I had not ‘Agreed’ to the variation! Had I received the correspondence I would have.
Result! Lots of lovely’ professional ‘ fees for Agent and solicitor.
It is staggering the lengths these individuals go to in order to make a quick buck.
They should go and engage in some worthwhile labour that puts a smile on people’s faces – rather like The duchess of Duke St’!!
Yesterday the PM announced that she was in her position for the long haul.
As well as sorting a favourable Brexit she is gong to right the wrongs and injustices that haunt our society.
One of the biggest of these must be leasehold, so in they next few weeks we should she if her aims are serious or is it just waffle. Based on my experience of the last seven and a half years I suspect the latter, but hope to be pleasantly surprised.
Taylor Wimpey “Brand New Sylish Developement”, Ladies and Gentlemen I give you ‘ THE EDGE” 86-88 Gresham Rd Brixton.
I spoke en passant to a very charming forthcoming salesperson at the site who informed me that the ground rent on a ONE BED flat costing £460,000 in ‘ Plot 1’ will be £300 per annum rising in line with RPI every 10 years. The service charge will be £969 per annum. I asked who the Managing Agents would be once the development had been completed In Spring 2019 and was told ‘.GATEWAY’ as the manage most of TW flats in London'” . I searched reviews of Gateway and a large majority are not favourable .
It is staggering to think that £300 ground rent per annum can be charged on a one bed flat and that that figure will rise every 10 yrs…also one can imagine that the service charges will be hugely inflated once the lambs have been led into the slaughter! It happens every time.
Let us hope that the solicitors acting for propspective purchasers advise their clients that the ground rent should be peppercorn. I wish I had asked if they recommended a particular firm of solicitors…..
Ooooh I forgot to mention -£13,000 stamp duty paid!!!!! On one bed flats.
Its staggering the developer is charging £460K premium for the lease of a one bedroom flat and still NEEDS to ask for £300 p.a in annual ground rent.
The £300 p.a ground rent is worth an extra £6K-£7K profit to the developer. by selling the freehold title to a “ground rent investment company. run by unscrupulous Directors which becomes the entity ( called freehold reversioner ) which takes away the life blood ( i.e time savings ) off the leaseholder and his/her family..
Its better if the Developer was to sell the leasehold title at £460 + a share in Freehold Co at $7K = £467K total to the buyer .
Upon reaching the end of the lease, the leaseholder still owns a share in the building .
Correction : “time savings” should read ” life -time savings.”