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A long and complex nightmare

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  • A long and complex nightmare

    I put my house in Stevenage up for sale in early 2010, as I was relocating 200 miles away, to Yorkshire. I originally took out a mortgage with the Leeds Permanent Building Society (“the Leeds”) for this property in 1982 together with my then partner. She left five months later, and agreed to have her name taken off the mortgage. Solicitors were involved and her name was removed. I paid for this to be done.

    “The Leeds” was subsequently bought out by the Halifax Building Society in 1995. After this I started to receive mail relating to the mortgage in joint names, again, along with the misspelling of my middle name. I informed the Halifax, and this was corrected. The Halifax then merged with the Bank of Scotland, in 2001.

    In late 2007, the mortgage was fully paid and I received the title deeds to the house. I was shocked to find that my ex partner’s name was still on the deeds. I sought the help of several local solicitors, but none were interested in my dilemma. One solicitor stated that it was so long ago that it would not be a problem, so I left it. It appears to be an oversight, or lack of commitment by the solicitor involved with changing the deeds at the time my ex-partner left. This was over 25 years ago, and this solicitor no longer exists.

    Due to changes in my employment circumstances, I decided to relocate to Yorkshire in early 2010, so I put my house up for sale with a local estate agent. A buyer’s offer was accepted. I moved into temporary rented accommodation in Yorkshire in August 2010. The buyer requested to move into the house before contracts were exchanged, for personal reasons, in October 2010. I agreed, as I would no longer be living there.

    The estate agent that I used to sell the property used a firm of lawyers which were located several hundred miles away.

    I received a call from the lawyer that the sale could not go ahead without the involvement of my ex partner.

    After much research and effort on my behalf, I managed to track the address of this ex-partner. She was now married. The estate agent’s lawyer sent letters to her, as did I to make contact, but she did not reply.

    This stalemate continued for many months. I had to extend my rental property in Yorkshire by another 6 months.

    Eventually I visited this ex partner to try to solve the situation. She was not in the best of health, but was quite amicable. She said she did not reply to the letters, because she was under a lot of stress in her personal life. She did not want anything to do with the property, and wished me good luck in my life. She also entrusted me with her driving licence and marriage certificate which I requested as the lawyer desired. She also gave me her mobile phone number.

    I sent scans of these documents to the lawyer, but the lawyer requested the actual documents, which I then sent by recorded delivery.
    The lawyer and I have tried to phone the ex-partner on many occasions, but without reply. I rather feel that she feels it easier not to get involved.

    This situation has now gone on for over nine months, and I am becoming more and more disillusioned. I feel the estate agent, and especially the lawyer, are doing little to advance the situation. For example, when I emailed the married name of the ex-partner to the lawyer, the lawyer spelled the name incorrectly. When phoning the lawyer, and getting through to her voicemail, the voicemail refers to her by her maiden name, quite unprofessional. When talking to the lawyer about what I need to do to sell the house, she told me she would need to “talk to the people in the other building”. On asking her the same question two weeks later, she replied with the same “need to talk with the people in the other building” again. So, two weeks had gone by without anything being done. The most preposterous thing she advised me to do was to use a private detective to track the ex-partner!

    I now feel that this sale will never go ahead in its present form. I am thinking to ditch the estate agent and their lawyer, as the house has still not been sold, and use a local solicitor, and arrange the sale privately between myself, the buyer, the ex-partner and the solicitor. Does this sound reasonable? I am at my wits’ end.