Author Topic: Developer's solicitors refuse to give answers/documents  (Read 7336 times)

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Developer's solicitors refuse to give answers/documents
« on: February 18, 2012, 09:50:37 pm »
I paid £1000 as reservation fee to start the process and brand new flat from developer Crest Nicholson.

I must say that the developer proposed me 3 different solicitors to choose from to carry out the conveyancing. However I decided to use an independent solicitor who does not have any relationship with the developer and it turned out to be a good decision considering the situation we are now.

The Environmental Search failed and was referred to an opinion from a professional. This suggested FURTHER ACTION as the property may be on contaminated land and in an area affected by radon gas.

From the documents my solicitor found out that the planning permissions were granted after an appeal and subject to a list of conditions including contamination assessment and remedial work.
The conditions mention a series of reports that must be submitted to and approved in writing by the Local Planning Authority, otherwise no development shall take place.

Also the developer states that these New Homes are covered by the NHBC Buildmark. However no documentation was sent to us and they only provide it after exchange of contract...

My solicitor raised many enquiries regarding the possible contamination issue and their solicitor refused to answer any questions. The claim that the documentation give is enough for the Buyer's need.

Since our environmental search failed twice, it is clear that we must see what they have done to deal with the contamination problem as a whole , before exchanging contracts!

My question is , it is legal that a solicitor refuses to reply to enquires raised by another solicitor? What do you think of this whole situation? I can see us not making any progress if they refuse to give us answers and documents. Of course if I withdraw, I will lose the £1000 reservation fee and I will also have to pay my solicitor fee! In addition I may not find another property within the stamp duty exemption deadline that ends on 22 March!

This situation is crazy and I am very concerned and the dream of my first flat is fading away...


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Developer's solicitors refuse to give answers and documents
« Reply #1 on: February 20, 2012, 09:09:22 am »
Firstly, well done for choosing your own solicitor. As you now know it was a good decision.
Using a solicitor recommended by the house builder is never a good idea as you can never guarantee they will be truly "independent".
Let's face it they get £1000 off you and £20,000 off the house builder which client is going to be looked after?

The NHBC Buildmark warranty documentation is giving after exchange or on completion.

Is your new block of flats in Cornwall? 
This area is at risk from radon gas and I believe it is a Building Control/NHBC requirement that a radon gas barrier be installed in the floor. 
Contaminated land is another question.

This can vary from a small oil spill from an old heating tank to harmful chemicals like arsenic, mercury, cyanide etc.
All new development will have an environmental survey at the outset and removal of contaminated areas will be a condition of planning approval.
I am not sure of the legal position of Crest's solicitor withholding the information your solicitor has requested. 
Indeed, this action by itself, would indicate that something is not right and Crest are trying to hide it.

My advice would be to insist on all information being provided in 48 hours. If they fail to do so you should walk away.
Instruct your solicitor to make a claim against Crest/Crest's solicitor for all monies will lose.  This will not include the Stamp Duty concession for first time buyers I am afraid. I would also suggest that you report Crest's solicitor to the Law Society.

You are better off potentially losing £1000, than end up with a flat that you cannot sell. I would be surprised if you were able to get a mortgage with an unresolved contamination issue and/or outstanding planning conditions.
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