Legal Problems –  Delays


Whether you’re buying or selling property, the process always seems to be afflicted by inexplicably long delays.

In earlier blogs we stressed the importance of selecting the right solicitor/conveyancer. This is because a good solicitor can apply sound professional judgement, allowing matters to proceed where a less experienced colleague could struggle to deal with anything unusual – or not spot something important, leading to potentially serious problems further down the line. 

Once you’re stuck with a plodding pen-pusher however your options are limited. Changing solicitors halfway through is not normally realistic because of long delays in getting documents transferred.

            Solicitors do get very busy and may need chasing up, so it can help to regularly communicate by phone or email so that your case hopefully stays somewhere near the top of the pile. It often helps to form a good relationship with the secretary – who may not be used to clients being friendly and polite! On the other hand you may be confronted with frosty receptionists who can kill with a single glance from 200 yards. However, from the solicitor’s point of view, constant chasing can be counter-productive. If they took calls from all their numerous clients on a daily basis, they’d never get any work done!

            Even as  E-conveyancing blasts away the cobwebs, some lawyers can still be guilty of unnecessary tardiness and unapproachability. Many clients simply want to know why things are taking so long. But they may not have bargained for the profession’s well-proven defences against any customers impertinent enough to expect swift results.

Quaint legal terminology may be employed to flummox and deter impertinent requests. For example, the response ‘we are still pursuing our enquiries on title’ is not tremendously enlightening for most of us wrestling with impossible deadlines.

On the other hand cheap e-conveyancing services can prove costy where you need to rely on well-informed legal advice, for example where the property is afflicted with restrictive covenants, missing consents or legal access issues.

            Listed below are a number of the more common legal problems that can arise and cause delays, together with possible solutions:-


*  Delays in obtaining ‘office copy entries’

Before preparing the draft contract, the seller’s solicitors will normally need to obtain ‘office copy entries’ by applying to the Land Registry. It helps if clients provide payment as early as possible to cover these sort of initial costs and agree to pay any abortive fees in the vent that the purchase subsequently falls through, otherwise you solicitor may delay applying.


* Delays Investigating Title

Checking the ownership of the property you’re buying is only likely to cause delays in the unlikely event that it’s one of the very few that’s not registered.


Delays in receiving the draft contract

The purchaser’s solicitors should receive the draft contract from the seller’s solicitor within a week or so of the purchase being agreed.

Delays could be due to difficulties obtaining documents, as described above, or simply due to good old-fashioned incompetence, and should be chased via the seller or agent.

Sellers have a key role to play here too. The process is greatly assisted if they swiftly return the answers to the pre-contract enquiries to their solicitor. 



Our next blog – coming soon …….

Reasons property deals fall through: Legal problems Part 2


Check out our Rightsurvey blog page for more industry tips and secrets written by property professionals to help put you in control.