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A very unusual property law case - repossession - split title


Tatiana

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Hello everyone!

 

I have a very unusual property law case. I have been trying to get advice from about dozen of various property law solicitors as well as taking some actions but unsuccessfully and no one knows what to do with it….

In 2007 my husband and I bought a leasehold property (1st floor maisonette) with a converted loft. The loft was converted in 2004.

When we bought the property it was repossessed. We used recommended solicitors, who were based in Scotland.

Only after the purchase was sealed I found out that the loft had a separate title and what’s worse it was not transferred into our names. We have ended up with a flat that is registered in our names and the loft in the name of the previous owner. He was repossessed when we bought the property and cannot be found (I used solicitors/detectives to track him down). I desperately want to correct the title but I’ve not been able to do it for the last 5 years!

As we spent a few years trying to investigate the situation, we now know this:

·       One of the previous owners obtained a new lease from the landlord (Greenwich Council) for the loft and converted it – without planning permissions in 2004.

·       He subsequently sold the property that had two titles (one for the flat and one for the loft) to an Italian chap. Both titles were transferred correctly

·       In 2006 the Italian bloke got repossessed

·       We bought the place in 2007.

As the property was repossessed our solicitors were dealing with the company that took the premises over. It seems that the bank that had charges over the property didn’t realise that there were two titles. As a result my solicitors were never made aware of any separate title and they only transferred the flat title into our names.

In order to rectify the title we’ve already tried:

·       Contacting Land Registry – they refused to help

·       Contacting the landlord (Greenwich Council) – they refused to help. I asked them to cancel the lease they granted to one of the previous owners as they breached the lease conditions by converting the loft without seeking planning permissions.

·       Had a court case but the judge overruled our right to the loft simply because the previous owner cannot be found….We are still puzzled. The previous owner has no rights as he got repossessed – it included the loft….

·       Asking my solicitors for help – they got into administration since. In any case they don’t think it was their fault as they were dealing with the bank who repossessed the property and it seemed the bank itself didn’t realise about the two titles. The bank sold the flat to us only but consequently they removed the charges from the loft as we approached them and asked to do so.

·       My solicitors who are now into administration were trying to help by giving me an insurance policy to cover any problems with a potential claim to the loft by the Italian chap should he miraculously turned up. They assured me it would be enough to sell the property. Two years ago we wanted to sell but it fell through as a mortgage provider refused to give mortgage to our buyers. This was because of the loft issue….

I should add that there is no separate entrance to the loft. The only way to enter the loft is via a staircase that is inside my flat.

It seems like a very silly error but it causes me a lot of grief and it means we are stuck with this property for a mistake that was not made on our part…

I just desperately want to correct the title. I’ve been told that I could try after living in property for 10 years – to make an application to the Land Registry and use ‘Adverse Possession law’. It means that I have to wait for a lot longer and besides I don’t know what my chances of having the application being successful are….

Do I have any other options????

 

Thanks so much in advance!

 

 

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