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Friday, 4 September 2015

The Injustice of House Buying in the UK

I'm writing this post for two reasons, 

1. Because I need a rant. I'm angry, upset, frustrated in equal measures

2. Because I want to tell our story so that other's can potentially avoid being in this horrible situation. 

Everyone knows house buying is a nightmare and extremely stressful. Things take ages, people don't do their jobs quickly and efficiently enough (in my opinion), estate agents lie, and lie again, but you get there in the end right? Wrong. 






So our story started back in March/April of this year; Luke and I decided it was too small and cramped in his flat, and we wanted more room, a garden and just generally to progress our lives together. We had a look at a few houses and found one in a good location with a whole heap of potential. I'm saying potential because it was a mess... but after a lot of work we could have made a decent amount of money on it. We put Luke's flat on the market and everything was seemingly great when we had a whole line up of viewings within hours. 2 offers were put in on the first day so we accepted one and arranged a viewing at the house we wanted to buy. 

My red flags started waving right from the off as the house currently housed tenants who wouldn't allow viewings evenings or weekends. As I was at work 7am-7pm I wasn't able to see the house so Luke went along with his mum and came away having made an offer. I know a lot of people think I might be crazy but trust me Luke is more fussy than me (or so I thought) and if he thought it was good enough for us, so did I, I was happy to just go along. 

The next two months or so went by, everything was going through as far as we were concerned... until the surveyor undervalued Luke's flat which meant the buyers mortgage was refused. It was stressful but we put it back on the market and quickly had another 3 viewings lined up the next morning, of which a lovely couple decided to make an offer. 

In all honestly, we didn't chase up our estate agent and solicitors enough. I had so much to deal with changing jobs, organising the conference and launching my shop, I let Luke take the reins, which is very unlike me. 

Anyway, at the start of July, we were told the tenants had been given their notice and would be leaving in 8 weeks - the last week of August. We would then we ready to exchange and move. 

At the start of August things started going downhill. I was calling the estate agents asking them questions but had no response. They were useless and their answer to everything was 'I don't know'. Warning flags again - but we were so far down the line, could we really give up now? So we carried on. 

The end of August came so we thought we'd give it until the 1st September before we started chasing up to find out what was going on. On 2nd September we got a phone call from the estate agent to say that the family were refusing to move from the house. 

This was something that had worried me from the second I knew there were tenants in the house. The nightmare was coming true. 

So to cut a long story short(er), the tenants had decided not to leave because they wanted a council house. If they left the house when their tenancy expired, it's deemed by the council as leaving by choice, making themselves 'intentionally homeless' meaning they would be at the bottom of the pile for a council house. If however, they stayed put until the eviction has gone through the courts (which can take months or even years), the day before the bailiffs come to turf them out, they would automatically be at the top of the list for a council house. 

If during that time the landlord changes the lock on HIS OWN (!!!) house, this is deemed at harassment and he can be arrested. 

Why is this not illegal? Why is the council encouraging them to stay in a house they should no longer be in? Why does no one except them have any rights? 

To say this news of devastating was an understatement. I already had a viewing booked for two days later so we decided to continue with the viewing and come face to face with the people who were refusing to leave the house we were trying to buy. 

So yesterday, we put on our brave faces and went to face the music - literally. It's no surprise the visit ended up in a shouting match. The couple in the house smirking and laughing in our face saying that they will not leave and they are going to stick it out until they get their council house. Their attitude towards up riled up such rage inside me at the injustice. 

We also found out that the notice that was given 8 weeks ago wasn't even official so the only way to get the tenants out would be to issue their 8 week notice, then an eviction notice and take it through the courts which can take weeks or months. 

Luke and I work extremely hard, we can afford this house. We want this house. It's meant to be ours. Yet two selfish people are taking it away from us. It's unfortunate that when you rent a property, there is always that issue that if the landlord wants to sell, you know you need to leave. That's the sacrifice of renting, it's unfortunate but that's life. I personally do NOT feel the council should be encouraging them to stay, they should not be punished for leaving the house. If their tenancy has been terminated, they should be given help now, not after we've spent a fortune dragging everything through court for months. 

So now we have two choices, carry on in the chain, risk our buyers pulling out because they don't want to wait, go through months of court proceedings, keeping our lives in hold as our future living siltation is uncertain, only for potentially us to go through months of that and the landlord decides he doesn't want to/can't be bothered to sell and we're back to square one, 1 -2 years later, with nothing and house prices around us increasing month by month. Or we walk away from the house we had a zillion plans for and could have made a lot of money on... 

Even in the 6 months since we were originally looking at houses, prices have increased. We could probably afford a castle in Scotland, but in London, money doesn't get you far. We're back to square one, having lost out on all the money we had paid to the solicitors and a mortgage offer on a deadline. If the next house we decide to go for doesn't go through before the deadline, we'll have the pay for the whole lot again, in total loosing thousands. Because of something that wasn't our fault. Because a family where the adults don't bother to work, have more rights than us. Because the council couldn't give a toss about the people actually doing right by the system. 

Injustice, that's what it is. 

Hello square one... 

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16 comments

  1. So sorry to hear you are going through this... my husband and I experienced an identical situation but as the landlords. Our tenant was awful, owed months worth of rent and yet the law was fully on his side. So unfair and took over a year to be sorted out. My advice to you is to look for somewhere else. I know that will be hard but this could drag on for so long, especially if it's a family with children in there.
    Good luck :)
    Ekaete X

    www.bonviveurbelle.com

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    1. Ah sorry to hear you had a nightmare with your tenants, it's so ridiculous. I would be mortified if it was my house that they wouldn't leave!

      We spend the night looking elsewhere and found another one we love (I love it even more) but there has already been an offer put in. We're just waiting to find out whether they'd still be open to us viewing so fingers crossed.

      Hope you never experience the same problem again. It's so unfair! xx

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  2. Oh gosh, this sounds terrible. I didn't even know they could do that. Your right, why isn't it illegal! Madness!

    Emily x
    www.britishbeautyaddict.com

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    1. I know! So fuming that we now have nothing because of them... or we have to wait potentially a year for them to leave! :-( sad times for my Halloween, Christmas and New Years party haha xx

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  3. I'm so sorry about this! The housing situation in the UK is actually ridiculous. For starters, who can even afford a house nowadays?

    I hope you sort things out soon!

    Pam xo/ Pam Scalfi♥

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    1. I know! We are only able to afford it as we have money from the sale of Luke's flat but we'd have no chance if it wasn't for that - particularly in London!

      Thanks :-) hope we do too haha xx

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  4. Aww Lauren, this absolutely sucks :( So unfair and I can't believe these people are actually being encouraged to stay!! I really, truly hope everything works out for you and so sorry you have to go through this! xx

    Jessie | allthingsbeautiful-x

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    1. Ah thanks lovely! It's so upsetting, even worse than if it had just fallen through because someone had to pull out. I was mortified when they laughed in my face about it!

      Hopefully we'll have better luck on our next offer!! xx

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  5. People are selfish and so inconsiderate - how is this even allowed? Not the same story, but my sister's flatmate has pulled out and is ignoring their calls and messages so it might end up them having to pay for something they haven't done, much like you are having to do in a way!! Hopefully these stupid people will have an epiphany and get the hell out.

    I hope that everything sorts itself out, and you get the house of your dreams!

    Suitcase and Sandals Blog xx

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    1. Ah no what a mare! I know there's totally not enough help out there for people who get completely screwed over my selfish people! Since posting this I've found out it's not actually that uncommon unfortunately!

      We've just put an offer on somewhere else so better luck next time! xx

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  6. So sorry this has happened! It's a shitty situation and so unfair. I remember my brothers landlord said it took 9 months to evict her last tenants.
    As the landlord put the house up for sale months ago, doesn't that count as notice?
    I do t know how you kept your cool when you went to visit the house. Especially when they got petty and childish.
    I hope you get your dream home soon! Good luck!

    Bex x

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    1. Oh god what a nightmare! I can see that happening to us so we've pulled out of the purchase now.

      We've put an offer on somewhere else so I'm hoping this one goes better!! xx

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  7. I just can't get over how people are allowed to do this! Something needs to be done about it, it's completely outrageous- I was actually getting angrier the more I read this post lol. Wish you all the luck in finding a home!! x

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    1. haha I know! I felt myself getting so angry reading it! It's fading now though, we've accepted we need to let go and have put in an offer somewhere else so fingers crossed for this one! xx

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  8. I'm so sad for you and Luke that it got to this point. It is so unfair and just goes to show that if you work for everything you get nothing back, sit on your arse and you get the world handed to you! Hope something sorts itself soon.

    Alice Anne // Annie Writes Beauty

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    1. Ahh I know, so gutted but we're mostly over it now. We've put an offer in elsewhere which has been accepted so we're started the process all over again! I'll have to keep you posted!! xx

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