The Lost Deposit Nightmare

The lady’s name on the other end of the phone didn’t mean anything to me but her property dilemma was familiar. The scale of the problem hit home only after she confided in me. My caller was seriously contemplating going to a nearby beach, walking into the sea and ending it all. She had reached the end of her tether. Before doing so she was making one last trip to her doctor. Perhaps he could diagnose a health problem she could use to emphasise her inability to finance the completion of a property. This was an apartment mis-sold by an unscrupulous property salesman. The caller was prepared to forfeit her £80,000 deposit on the still incomplete property. What she couldn’t contemplate were the impending legal bills and mounting interest payments. The lady is single, in poor health, in her late fifties. On a meagre pension of just 500€ a month the mortgage repayments simply couldn‘t be met. Caught between a rock and a hard place she took my advice and went to a local help agency who thankfully averted a personal tragedy.. In a legal sense losing 100% of a deposit consisting of 50% of property price is clearly an abusive clause which can be declare void by a court. THE PROPERTY ICEBERG Like an iceberg the scale of the property conveyance problem, caused by the recession, is mostly hidden. I fear that society is the Titanic heading towards it. For many the loss on deals that have gone sour may mean the loss of tens of thousands of pounds and possibly the public humiliation of bankruptcy. Another couple used a credit card to pay 5,000€ to secure a property. This on the understanding, solemnly given, that if there were legal issues the deposit would be returned. Subsequent checks revealed that it was an illegal build. In a cases like this a cheap, fast and inexpensive procedure can be used to recover the deposit. HAPPY ENDINGS Many conveyance problems do have a happy ending. Often a solution is a compromise. An amiable settling of accounts is worth waiting for when the victim eventually sees their enhanced bank balance. One couple were bemused by a builder’s reluctance to hand over the deeds on completion. When they instructed their solicitor to enforce the matter it was discovered the builder had mortgaged the property to himself. In the event of him not making payments the bank would own the property, not the hapless buyers. Fifty percent deposits are common though some parted with higher sums of money. This often suits the buyer waiting to sell their own home in the UK or Ireland. From its sale the sum will provide final settlement and the essential nest egg. MONEY LOST THROUGH BUYERS IGNORANCE The recovery of large upfront payments means legal redress is likely the only solution. Only an expert lawyer can identify if this is feasible. Guesswork simply won’t do; neither will crossed fingers. The tragedy isn’t always the loss of substantial sums of money; it is the mistaken belief that recovery isn’t possible. Those who take that attitude have lost their money. Any reputable solicitor, without charging the client, will invest a little time investigating to see if there is mileage in pursuing the matter. Often the calamity is transferred to the builder or developer who has to return the money. If not then he could have his assets seized, perhaps be gaoled. As with most other callings the legal profession covers many specialities. Use a solicitor who specialises in conveyance disputes. In that way most of the preparatory work is already in place. Michael Walsh is one of a legal team legal specialising in lost deposit and conveyance disputes. He can be contacted at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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