The furniture we paid for as part of our property purchase is missing. What can we do?

What can be done when we have been unable to contact the sellers and have no forwarding address?
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Question: We have just bought a penthouse flat and, though we completed a couple of months ago, as we don’t live in the UK, we have only just visited the apartment for the first time. We agreed to buy the furniture on the roof terrace and a separate balcony, but when we got there the furniture was missing.
We paid the sellers £10,000 for the furniture by a transfer to their joint bank account. We have since been unable to contact them and have no forwarding address. What can we do?
Answer: Contact the solicitor who acted for you during the sale and explain what has happened. Your solicitor should have given you a copy of the Law Society fittings and contents form supplied by the sellers, which should have listed all the items in the sale price and also those excluded, and may have mentioned any items that the sellers were prepared to sell to you. Had your solicitor known you intended to buy the outdoor furniture, then that could have been reflected in the contract.

Your solicitor could have collected the monies due from you for those items as part of the completion funds and paid them to the sellers’ solicitors on completion.
The difficulty now is proving the agreement you had with the sellers, but at least you can prove the transfer of funds into their bank, although that does not necessarily prove the terms of your agreement with them.
Your solicitor can contact the solicitors who acted for the sellers, but they may no longer be acting for them. If the situation cannot be resolved, you may have to take court action against the sellers, provided you can trace them. Contact the selling agents to see if they can help.
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If you have a question for Fiona McNulty, please email or write to Legal Solutions, Homes & Property, London Evening Standard, 2 Derry Street, W8 5EE. We regret that questions cannot be answered individually but we will try to feature them here. Fiona is legal director in the real estate group of Foot Anstey LLP in Exeter (
These answers can only be a very brief commentary on the issues raised and should not be relied on as legal advice. No liability is accepted for such reliance. If you have similar issues, you should obtain advice from a solicitor.

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