THE DISASTER OF THE DISAPPEARING DEEDS
Ha - Caught you out again. You thought you were going to read about the rest of the sale, but whilst all moving, cataloguing, photographing and measuring was going on the property sale was clunking along in the background. And that clunking turning into a grinding halt as the whole sheebang siezed up.
I think I mentioned earlier that I bought my house back in the 1980's and that was before there was any requirement to register title to land with the Land Registry Office. The system of registering land was set up back in the 1860 to simplify property ownership but was not compulsory in many areas until 1990 so my title was not registered. This is not a problem as it is simply registered when it is sold or mortgaged.
The bank had my deeds for safekeeping so once it was decided the property was to be sold, and I had instructed solicitors I asked for the deeds to be sent on so preliminary work could be sorted out prior to the actual conveyancing. As they say on the TV advert with those cute little Meerkats - “Simples”
I didn't worry overmuch at first when the solicitor hadn't received them. I was confident in my bank. Not like the firm of solicitors I once dealt with who's senior partner happened to share the same gardener handyman with me.
One day my helper asked if he could borrow my little stock trailer for his other customer as there were a lot of papers that had to be transported from a secure storage site and taken to be destroyed. What follows is a trip to reality for most of us who fondly imagine the professionals we employ – normally at vast expense – are as their title implies - professional
I must admit I wasn’t keen on the trailer lending project. I just kept it for my own use and it was rarely used more than two or three times a year so was in pretty good nick. It was going to have to go in and out of the city centre several times, and I had never bothered to insure it as it had so little use. If it was to be dented or even worse I would be put in an awkward position
As it happened a large flat bed trailer they already owned for moving hay was pressed into service, though with the disadvatage that loose paperwork might fly off on the outgoing journey. These papers were mostly burned in a field, with the remainder which might be needed in future correspondence being stored in open racking in an open ended field shelter with an earth floor, and I can physically verify that as some time later I took some of my sheep up to the very field for an early spring bite of grass, and we had to put up some hurdles to stop them eating the papers!!!!
I can only assume my bank was employing a similar “security” firm for storage of their paperwork. Time went on and still no deeds. The solicitors phoned and emailed. I phoned and emailed. The bankmanger phoned and emailed. The bank manager's manager phoned and emailed. Time was going on. My energy was almost totally absorbed in trying to get the auction sale organized so I could be out by the purchaser's required completion date. I knew things were desperate when the estate agent actually contacted me.
Finally late one Friday I had an email from the bank manager, they were very sorry, but matters beyond their control had meant that my deeds had been totally and irrevocably lost. Eeeekkk!!!
Busy as I was I was straight on the phone to the solicitors. Where did this leave me. With no title deeds would I still be able to sell the property. Yes - that would be no problem but there would obviously be additional expense, plus owing to the necessity of full and in depth checks by the Land Registry there would be a serious delay to the sale date.
Back on the phone to the bank. Yes they were very sorry, and please accept their apologies. But thank goodness were willing to meet any out of pocket expenses caused by the deeds going missing. Ok, better than nothing I thought. We were now on a Friday afternoon. By Monday morning I receive another email. The deeds are found and being couriered to your solicitors at this very moment. Hooray!!!
The deeds finally arrived the following Friday, so I think they must have used the Pony Express - either that or Parcelfarce. No on second thoughts it couldn’t have been Pacelfarce as the deeds did eventually arrive.
Apparently the bank, once they realised they might have to pay out something had told the security firm they would be suing them for any additional costs involved. The security firm probably thought like me, that being sued by a bank sounded seriously expensive, so they made a bit more effort on the searching front.
So off on the jolly old house selling tracks again. Of course we would well and truly miss the intended completion date and my purchasers were now off on a three week holiday arriving back the day before Christmas just as the solicitors closed till the New Year....... Don't you just love it.