Our Director Quoted in the Daily Mail

Gareth Richards, Convey Law’s Legal Director has been quoted in the national tabloid, the Daily Mail. Gareth was providing his legal expertise in relation to purchasing a property which holds guarantees for work undertaken.

Gareth stated that lawyers should be checking to make sure any guarantees are transferable to the new purchaser:

“Any lawyer worth their salt should do the work and look into any guarantees on behalf of the buyer,’ says Gareth Richards, a spokesperson for The Conveyancing Association and head of legal practice at Convey Law. ‘But you should not take it for granted that they will.”

Gareth is also Convey Law’s Compliance Officer and he was recently awarded at the Modern Law Awards where he was honoured with ‘Highly Commended’ in the Compliance Officer of the Year Award. However, he was also the only entry to be decorated from the Conveyancing industry.

The full article can be read below:

‘We discovered our new home’s work guarantees weren’t worth the paper they were written on’: How to protect yourself from costly bills after you move

When Linda Harrison moved home she was given the all-important guarantees for work the previous owners had done, but it was only when something went wrong that she found out some weren’t worth the paper they were written on.

When we moved into our new house in North Yorkshire last summer we got the usual big pile of paperwork from our solicitor. It sat forgotten in a drawer for months while we got unpacked and started decorating. Then recently, amid a sudden downpour, we heard the unmistakable sound of dripping water. The conservatory roof was leaking.

Could there be a guarantee? We looked through the paperwork and to our relief we found it – a 10-year guarantee with about eight years remaining.

I rang the company to arrange for what I thought would be a quick repair job. But I was stopped in my tracks when they said they wouldn’t honour the guarantee.

As the previous owner had paid for the conservatory to be built, the guarantee was in their name. And the company’s policy when a property was sold was not to transfer their guarantee to the new owner. This came as a nasty surprise. I’d assumed we’d be covered and the leaky roof would be fixed. But the buckets looked set to stay in the conservatory. For us, the guarantee wasn’t worth the paper it was written on. So how can you protect yourself from a hefty bill for a leaky conservatory or dodgy double-glazing, perhaps while still recovering from moving costs? ‘Don’t just assume a warranty or guarantee will automatically transfer to you if you’re buying a property,’

says Sonita Hayward, associate solicitor at Bolt Burdon Kemp. ‘It depends on the company’s terms and conditions, and these can differ wildly. ‘It would seem so logical for a guarantee covering work such as damp proofing or woodworm treatment to stay with the building. But so often a company won’t transfer a guarantee to the new owner of the property. It very much limits their liability.’ And don’t assume your solicitor will look into it on your behalf when you are buying the property.

They should find what guarantees exist but they don’t have to ask if they are transferable to you. ‘Any lawyer worth their salt should do the work and look into any guarantees on behalf of the buyer,’ says Gareth Richards, a spokesperson for The Conveyancing Association and head of legal practice at Convey Law. ‘But you should not take it for granted that they will.’ The best way to protect yourself is to ask your solicitor if any guarantees are transferable. And get it in writing. If any aren’t transferrable you might want to have a survey done with a specialist contractor.

Depending on the findings, you could ask for a reduction in the property price, but at the very least it should save you from any nasty surprises in the future. If a guarantee is transferrable, find out how long it has left and if the seller has done any work that could have invalidated the warranty. For example, have they replaced the roof or a window in a conservatory? Check the Ts & Cs as some guarantees state regular maintenance must be carried out to keep the guarantee valid. Some companies also charge a fee for transferring ownership of warranties or stipulate a time limit.

For example, you may only get 30 days or less to transfer – something that could easily be overlooked in the hectic days after moving.

Gareth also recommends getting a transfer document from the company that’s issued the warranty (don’t just rely on an email stating the benefit of the warranty has been transferred). Ask any questions in writing through your solicitor during the property buying process. ‘There’s also the question of if the company still exists,’ cautions Sonita. ‘You may want to ask your solicitor to check that. A warranty from a company that no longer exists is worthless. And ask if the company’s guarantee is insurance-backed, then if the company goes out of business there is some way of still enforcing the guarantee.’ As for our situation, the company offered to come round to have a look at the conservatory as a goodwill gesture. But that’s simply down to good luck (and it being a relatively easy repair job). I’ll definitely ask a lot more questions about any guarantees if I ever buy another property.

October 27, 2014