This is an open complaint letter to Premier Property Lawyers, the conveyancing company who have been dealing with the sale of my flat this year. I am sending it to their head office, and also making it public, as I feel anyone planning to use them ought to think very carefully after hearing my experience. A disclaimer however: obviously this is subjective; others may have used them and found their services to be speedy and satisfactory – good, I’m glad for them, and you may choose to use them after reading this and find them satisfactory too. Just think about it first is all I ask.
I’ll paint a picture of the circumstances which led to selling up in the first place. In 2017, I had decided I was ready to move on. There were too many memories of an ex with whom I was (still am) very much in love, and too many negative experiences involved with my ongoing depression everywhere I looked in the flat. I hated the town I lived in, was fed up with having no outside space, and thought a fresh start might be best. I had lost all my savings and spare money on fixing the roof of the bloody place, and with no income other than a trickle of freelance, I had nothing left. I was lucky enough not to have a mortgage on the flat though, so my decision was to price it for a quick sale, liquidise my assets, rent a lovely place for a year or two whilst setting up businesses, paying off debts, financing my daughter through university, and living close to her uni so she would not have to live elsewhere for the first year. This would also enable me to travel much more quickly and easily to look after my mother who has been unwell for the past two years.
Then the boiler broke, adding insult to injury. It was irreparable, and I was ineligible for finance to repair it. I consulted the estate agent, and obviously priced the sale accordingly. We can cope without a boiler for a few weeks until we sell, I thought. The cold showers in the middle of winter were interesting but as I had heard they were good for depression and the skin, I powered through. Not by choice though, I can assure you.
The place went on the market in January 2018 and I had secured a sale by mid Feb. The estate agent had done a great job of staging, arranging viewings, and getting the best price they could for my place under the circumstances. My buyer intended to rent the place out, and stipulated he wanted a quick sale, which was fine by me. We both signed up to PPL, on the recommendation of the estate agent. We had to sign a disclaimer for possible conflict of interest, as we were both using the same company. I did so, thinking, ah well, it should make things move quicker, shouldn’t it?
Well, I’M STILL HERE, SIX MONTHS LATER. Let me re-iterate, there is NO CHAIN; I have a cash buyer, we both are with the same company, so I presume our conveyancers work in the same building, and I am going from owning to renting. The sale was agreed in February. I am writing this on the 12th August. Six months and counting to complete a no chain sale. In what universe is this acceptable? A quick google search tells you that the average time to complete a sale like this, even with complications (and there were a couple, which I shall come to in a minute) is between six and twelve weeks.
Six months with half my life packed up in boxes; six months of cold showers; six months of assurances that a date would be closer next week and that they are ‘doing all they can’. And my daughter begins university in about three weeks’ time. And we are still here, in this town I hate, in this place I hate. Oh, and I haven’t spoken to my ACTUAL conveyancer since last March/April. Every time I phone he is ‘currently unavailable’ and I must speak to another member of the team. Much as I enjoy the image of him cowering in a corner, silently mouthing ‘I’m not in!’ to whomever is telling him I’m calling yet again, and frantically waving at the phone as if to ward off an explosion, it doesn’t help my case.
With regards to the aforementioned complications: my property is leasehold and the freeholder is very difficult to get hold of, so I was expecting that to take some chasing. However, it ended up being me doing the chasing rather than, you know, the company I am paying to do that. At one point, there was some vital information required from the freeholder’s solicitors which I had to pay for, so I duly paid PPL the required amount – only to find when I spoke to my freeholder’s solicitor in person a month later that they had not paid him until a week prior to my call – after having given both me and my estate agent the impression that it was the freeholder’s solicitor who was at fault and keeping us waiting.
I have come to realise that my solicitor seems to work on a once-a-week basis with regards to me – if I haven’t heard anything by a Wednesday, I know that at least another week will go by before I hear anything further. I have complained to my estate agent, and to PPL before now, several times, and my case was apparently brought to the attention of management, who, a month and a half ago, were going to ‘knock some heads together’ to get things moving. They must have been out of bowling balls or something as I see no heads knocked so far.
I prematurely made a very stupid decision whilst all this was going on, as I had a number of reassurances under my belt from PPL that ‘things were moving’ and ‘we should have a date very soon’, and began to look for places to live – I was frankly a bit scared of the sale going through quickly and me not having found an appropriate rental (HAHAHA). I found a beautiful rental property that wasn’t going to be on the market for another month after I had viewed it so I stupidly paid the application fees and secured it, thinking that I could somehow make my solicitors see the urgency here and work to get me into this property by July. I am standing to lose this property very soon – probably this week – as the landlady has patiently waited for me with her property empty for over a month now – nearly two – and she’s not going to put up with it forever. I’ll be down a thousand pounds for nothing then. The worst thing is, if I had any spare money to pay the rent up front (which was what had been agreed), I could move in NOW and wait for the sale to take its time. But I don’t – as I have said – my assets are not liquid until the bloody sale completes.
The situation with money is worsening – I am now at the point where I’m choosing between mobile data and food. Given that my only income is online and that my Wi-Fi is currently operating in a house I can’t live in, mobile data is kind of essential. My arse can cope for a bit without food, there’s plenty of padding in there to last me for a while. However, I shouldn’t be in this position in the first place.
Can you sue a solicitor? Because I am seriously considering it, for the continued psychological stress I have been put through trying to pin down any sort of feedback or completion date. My depressive state has reached an all time low whilst trying to sort this and through the endless waiting for some sort of answer. Unfortunately, as all my funds are tied up in the sale, I don’t have the money to consult a lawyer about it.
I absolutely resent paying PPL money at the end of this process but I know I’m going to have to swallow that particular bitter pill. If nothing else, I really hope that every solicitor who has been dealing with my case experiences this position at least once in their lives. I curse you to six months of no boiler and inaccessible finances, and six months of inexorable waiting and frustration, and six months of watching your life and your plans slip through your fingers at the hands of someone else. See how happy you are at the end of that.
I have taken to calling you Derrière Property Lawyers, as I seem to have fallen through the Crack of your system, and you are currently the Butt of all my jokes. Seems fitting, don’t you think?
UPDATE: You may have noticed that although this was written on the 12th August, it has only just been published, on the 22nd. This is because I sent the article to PPL and my estate agent before publishing, to see whether a strongly worded complaint might have some effect upon them. I am pleased to report that it did; my case was brought to the attention of management, and completion and moving dates are finally, FINALLY scheduled for Wednesday 22nd August. I am relieved beyond belief, but utterly disgusted that it took me getting stressed sufficiently to write the complaint in the first place in order to get things moving. And the fact they COULD do it in less than two weeks makes me wonder all the more what on Earth they were sitting twiddling their thumbs doing in the six months before this. Ultimately, although the woman I have dealt with in the past week has been very professional, polite, and hardworking, it does not detract from my complaint , as I have to wonder if I’d still be sitting waiting to hear had I not written it at all. I suspect I would. Hence I have decided to still publish, but have waited until after my completion date as I want to be absolutely sure that the matter is finally at an end.
You are not off the hook, Premier Property Lawyers. Proving you CAN actually work in a client’s favour when pushed only serves to highlight your incompetence otherwise. I am still recovering from the stress you have subjected me to over the past six months – oh and my hair is now completely grey, as an added bonus. Cheers for that.