Conveyancing Solicitors' Negligence Leaves Woman Homeless

Donna Smith  12-01-2024

Samuels have recently assisted a client in a distressing case, where negligence by conveyancing solicitors led to a woman being left homeless.

Mrs B owned a property with a lifetime mortgage (a type of equity release arrangement). She instructed conveyancing solicitors to sell her property, and buy another. As is common in conveyancing transactions, the sale and purchase were supposed to happen simultaneously.

Mrs B did not have sufficient cash both to pay off her lifetime mortgage and to fund the purchase of her new property. She therefore planned on transferring (porting) her lifetime mortgage to her new property, to help her buy it.

Mrs B was not very familiar with conveyancing and mortgage transactions, and she thought the conveyancing solicitors would contact her lender and deal with porting the lifetime mortgage. However, her conveyancing solicitors entirely overlooked the fact that the mortgage existed, even though Mrs B had told them about it.

Mrs B’s conveyancing solicitors should have discussed her mortgage with her, including how she would pay it off and how she would fund the purchase. Instead, they did nothing, entirely overlooking the fact that the mortgage existed. This was a breach of their duty of care to Mrs B, as well as being a breach of money laundering regulations.

Mrs B’s solicitors only realised there was an issue after contracts for her sale and purchase had been exchanged, and a completion date had been agreed.

Mrs B’s solicitors asked her if she had funds to make up the shortfall on her purchased, which she did not. The mortgage lender did not have enough time before completion to confirm whether the mortgage could be ported to the new property. Mrs B’s solicitors completed on her sale and paid off the lifetime mortgage, but they could not complete on her purchase. This meant Mrs B was in breach of contract, and forfeited the deposit she had paid (10% of the overall purchase price). Mrs B also faces the possibility of being sued for damages by the owners of the property she did not purchase. Most distressing of all, she had nowhere to live and eventually had to move into a rental property.

There is little doubt that Mrs B’s solicitors were negligent and that Mrs B can sue them for compensation for her financial losses.


Have your conveyancing solicitors made mistakes?

Although it is the responsibility of your conveyancing solicitor to discuss how you are funding a property purchase, we recommend you make this clear yourself. If your conveyancing solicitor fails to deal with your transaction properly, leaving you out of pocket, you should be able to sue them for compensation.

Samuels Solicitors has been helping clients obtain compensation from negligent solicitors for decades - it is one of our niche areas of expertise. 

If your conveyancing solicitor has been negligent, we can help. Contact us today to speak to one of our experienced professional negligence solicitors.

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