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Contracts exchanged: vendor pulls out, what can we do?

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  • Contracts exchanged: vendor pulls out, what can we do?

    Hi all

    Have come seeking a little advice as we're a bit stumped here.

    In short we exchanged contracts on a house about 6 weeks ago. Vendor wanted a fairly lengthy period between exchange and completion in order to move and we agreed as our own house was being rented out, not sold.

    Completion date was yesterday and we were all packed, removals booked, ready to go. Thursday afternoon we got a call from our solicitors saying he'd just heard from the vendor's solicitors that they were pulling out of the sale and had no given a reason. The Estate Agent went into a tailspin, assuring us it would be sorted out...and suggesting that we give them a lump sum to get them out in time for completion day!

    Completion day yesterday came and went with their solicitor updating ours that there was no change, the vendors were refusing to complete..and to move.

    So where do we stand now? We want the house - in fact my husband had started the process of moving his business to that town - and now we're stuck 300 miles away with all our stuff packed up ready to move.

    We're not giving them more money to get them move out the agent suggests - that smacks of blackmail to me. Are we able to force them out? At this point our costs are around £5k and that's money we can ill afford to lose! In addition having to go back to square one and find another house will set us back months and that will damage my husband's business...which he's wound up in our current location.

    Our solicitor has never experienced a vendor pulling out after contracts are exchanged so everyone seems a bit flummoxed right now and my over-riding desire is to drive there, get them by the scruff of the neck and hurl them on the pavement!

  • #2
    You certainly can force them to move out. The remedy is called "specific performance" and a court will order specific performance of the contract by the seller. If it is a clear-cut as your message implies, there will be no risk of losing.

    A "letter before action" (drafted by a litigator, not a conveyancer) should be sent to the sellers, requiring them to comply with their contractual obligations and threatenting a court action in default.In addition, you are entitled to compensation for all financial losses that directly flow from the breach of contract (eg: your extra legal and removal and accommodation costs), to the extent that they were within the contemplation of the parties at the date of the contract (and all those would clearly be), subject to your obligation to take reasonable steps to minimise those costs

    I suggest you instruct a litigation solicitor immediately - you will have to pay a couple of thousand pounds up front, but it will sort out the problem and you will get the money back - by withholding it from the purchase money!

    Good luck - I hope this helps
    This is based on my experience as a conveyancing solicitor in England, but I do not accept liability for information I give in this forum