Money Grouse: Well and truly conveyed

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The Independent Online
A FIRM of solicitors offering cut-price conveyancing has come under fire for charging separately for the work done for the building society.

Tom Fulda from Buckinghamshire decided he wanted to remortgage his home to take advantage of one of the fixed-rate mortgages available from Cheltenham & Gloucester Building Society.

He chose to use Drake Whiting, a firm based in Essex, which claims that its flat pounds 125 fee offers one of the cheapest services in the country.

After the initial contact, Mr Fulda was told that in addition to the charge for the work carried out on his behalf, the solicitor was also acting for the building society and he would be charged another pounds 125 for the work carried out on behalf of the society. The total legal cost for his remortgage ended up being more than pounds 250.

Mr Fulda wrote to the firm expressing his dissatisfaction, saying he felt it was not normal practice to charge separately when the lender permitted the same solicitor to act for both parties. He said: 'I subsequently checked with several local legal practices. I found that this indeed was the case.'

He said the two fees meant that the service turned out to be one of the most expensive.

Stephen Kew, a Drake Whiting partner, said: 'At all times Mr Fulda was made aware of the fact that there would be a charge.' He disputed the fact that it was not normal practice to separate out the two charges and levy everyone a flat rate regardless of whether they needed a mortgage. 'Why should someone who is not going to get a mortgage subsidise someone who is?' he said.

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