Homeowners in Bradford have been advised to take legal action against their conveyancing solicitors for negligence, after the new build homes they bought in 2014/15 were deemed worthless.
The Odsal properties were built adjacent to a redundant landfill site, last used over 40 years ago. The local council says the site still emits toxic gases, including methane gas – which can be lethal. To protect the homes against gas ingress, a protective membrane should be fitted beneath the floor.
However, the builder, Sherwood Homes, went into administration in 2014 before the homes and building control paperwork was completed. Final building compliance certificates were not received by some of the homeowners.
The homeowners have no evidence that the membrane was ever fitted and are now left with mortgages on homes that are effectively worth ‘zero’ pounds.
The problem only came to light when one of the homeowners applied to remortgage when their original mortgage deal came to an end.
All of the thirteen homes on the site are likely to face the same problem. Some of the properties had been purchased using the government’s 20% Help to Buy scheme. Homes England has agreed to suspend interest due on Help to Buy loans for those residents who have been affected.
Bradford Council said:Â “Clearly residents have been let down by the developers and the agencies that worked for the developer.”
The council said it believed that taking legal action was the correct path for residents to follow and that some had already succeeded in taking action against the agencies involved in their property purchase.
What should you reasonably expect a new build conveyancer to do?
The potential for problems to occur on the legal side of buying a new build home is at least as likely, if not more so, than any other type of conveyancing. New build developers can also exert pressure to use their own recommended solicitor or to encourage exchange and completion on the purchase more quickly than typical.
The potential issues around planning and building regulations, NHBC inspections and agreements for roads and services can be expensive if left unchecked at the time of purchase and should be finalised before completion by an independent professional.
Always employ a trusted, independent conveyancing solicitor as well as an independent Chartered Surveyor to act in your interests when buying property, whether a new build or older home.