If it's not nailed down, don't pay cash for it

Our lawyer, Fiona McNulty, advises what to do when the sellers of a property accept a cash payment for fittings and contents - but take them anyway
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Question: We’ve just moved into a new property. A week before the completion date we did a deal with the sellers to buy their Aga off them and we paid them £3,500 in cash. However, when we got here we found the Aga had been removed. So what do we do now? Our solicitor doesn't appear to be in the least interested.

Answer: Paying the sellers in cash suggests your solicitors didn't know you had agreed to buy the Aga from them.

Proving the existence of your agreement and the payment to the sellers could be difficult unless you have a receipt from the sellers, or there is some other confirmation in writing. Check the fittings and contents form to see if the sellers made a note on there about the Aga.

If your solicitors had known about the Aga then they should have advised you to include the Aga and the agreed price in the contract. You would then just have had to put your solicitors in funds, ie deposited the money with them, not only for the balance due on completion in respect of the property but also for the amount due for the Aga. Your solicitors would then have paid the whole amount over to the sellers' solicitors. Removal by the sellers would be a breach of contract.

Whatever the situation is, ask your solicitors to contact the sellers' solicitors and explain the mistake and request the return of the Aga or the installation of a replacement Aga.

If you have no joy you may end up bringing a claim against the sellers for your losses in the small claims court. Your solicitors may not wish to be involved as their legal fees could exceed the value of the Aga.

What's your problem?

If you have a question for Fiona McNulty, email legalsolutions@standard.co.uk. We regret that questions cannot be answered individually.

Fiona is a partner in the residential real estate team at Thring LLP www.thrings.com.

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