The current HGV driver shortage causing petrol pumps to run dry across the country will have a serious knock-on effect for many industries, including removals firms who have bookings for moving days. If you have already exchanged contracts, what are your legal rights and remedies if your removals firm is unable to move you on completion day? This problem is not new as many sellers and their conveyancers have already faced similar delays during their purchase and sales due to the lockdown restrictions contacted with the Covid-19 pandemic.
Ordinarily, it is not common for sellers to fail to complete on time and is more of a problem faced by buyers. However, if a removals firm cannot move a seller, then it will be sellers’ who face claims for compensation from their buyers. In large chains, many buyers will of course be selling their own properties, so such problems may be experienced by many sellers throughout that particular transaction’s chain.
For sellers who are unable to vacate the property they are selling on the contractually binding completion date because their removals firm is unable to move them, then The Law Society’s Standard Conditions of Sale, incorporated into all residential sale contracts, will govern this situation.
Under the Standard Conditions, if a seller defaults and the buyer is ready, willing and able to complete, then the buyer will be entitled to claim damages in compensation from the seller. Further, the buyer’s lawyers will likely serve a Notice to Complete upon the seller making time of the essence and requiring the seller to complete within 10 working days.
The buyer can also claim compensation from the seller on a daily rate basis based on the contract rate which is usually 4% or 5% above the base lending rate of seller’s conveyancer’s bank on the purchase price. If the buyer’s losses are not met by the contractual compensation, then the buyer may be able to claim their additional losses.
If a seller finds themselves in this position of having to compensate their buyer due to the fault of their removals firm, they may have to review the terms and conditions of their agreement with their removals firm and may have to claim damages in compensation from the removals company for breach of contract.
Our property litigation team can assist those parties whose conveyancing firms do not have litigation specialists and advise on bringing or defending claims for breach of contract based on late completion. If you require any assistance or advice in respect of the above, then please contact our team on tel: 01892 515022.
This blog is not intended as legal advice that can be relied upon and CooperBurnett does not accept any responsibility for the accuracy of its contents.