Consumer rights: "A mis-typed digit left me stressed and out of pocket"
Homebuyer fights bank to get savings needed to complete deal in time ... Joint tenants fall out over returned deposit
Sunday 19 September 2010
Q. On Saturday, 7 August I visited the Halifax with my passport, to close my savings account and withdraw the full amount to contribute towards the completion of our house purchase the following Friday. I was told that I could only access my money by a phone call. Now, 13 days later I am still waiting for my money to be transferred to HSBC.
I have been in several phone conversations with different people at the bank, I have been passed from adviser to adviser and have been promised several times that things would be sorted out, or were sorted out, that the money had already been transferred, or that the money would be with us on time for the completion. It wasn't.
In the end we faced losing the flat, our deposit and moving costs to date. We had no choice but to borrow from friends and family, and my fiancé had to go significantly overdrawn on his current account – his account is still overdrawn by £2,000. We owe a friend £5,000 lent on trust that it would be repaid within 48 hours, and my pensioner father £8,000. Having been put into a situation where we could have easily lost everything entirely due to the bank's negligence, we felt we got no sympathy, assistance or cooperation.
On Friday, 13 August after completion, I called the Halifax and was told that the account was closed, nothing could be done, and that the funds had been transferred. Further calls confirmed the account had been closed and funds transferred but to date – 20 August – they still haven't materialised. I have complained to the ombudsman and am seeking advice from a lawyer on any compensation I should be due in addition to the refunding of costs incurred. How can this happen and what can I do to resolve it?
A. I know that the money was eventually paid – three weeks after you requested it. I have a lot more detail in the full version of your letter and can only imagine how stressful this has been. However since you wrote the Halifax has investigated internally and their spokesperson says: "We are sorry for the distress and inconvenience this has caused. Unfortunately a member of staff made an error when transferring the money and an incorrect sort code was keyed in. The service we provided on this occasion was not at the level we expect and as a result we have agreed to cover any legitimate costs incurred as a result of this mistake. An offer of compensation has also been made."
I hope you're happy with the offer. Hundreds of thousands of bank transactions go through every day without a hitch. Unfortunately some do go wrong – usually, like yours, because of human error. Because of the amount of money involved, and the reason for the transfer, you spotted the problem quickly but it underlines the importance of always checking that money has ended up in the right place.
Q. I've been sharing a flat for six months with a couple. To begin with it was fine but recently it got more difficult. So I have moved out. However, getting my share of the deposit back has been a nightmare. I originally paid the money to the letting agent and assumed I'd get it back from him. But the agent said that as the tenancy was carrying on I would be paid by my flatmates. We were already having a difference of opinion about how much I owed on utility bills and so instead of giving me my share of the deposit, and resolving the bills dispute separately, they paid me my deposit minus the amount they calculated I owed. Even if I ultimately agree that I owe what they say I owe, it can't be right that they are responsible for my deposit. They could withhold any amount and I'd have to fight to get it back. I don't owe as much as they've deducted so what do I do now? I thought paying the agent avoided this kind of problem?
A. It looks like the agent has been trying to take the most practical approach. I can't be absolutely sure but it sounds likely that by giving notice to move out, in effect you were giving notice for all three of you. In that case the agent would have to create a new tenancy agreement for the couple. The deposit would be returned and then have to be repaid in full by the couple and they would have to move out so that the property and the itinerary could be checked, before moving back in. The agent has avoided the legalistic route by passing on responsibility for the deposit to the remaining tenants. While it's practical it isn't necessarily best practice and one of the pitfalls is the problem you've experienced.
Ian Potter, the operations manager at the Association of Residential Lettings Agents, says your deposit should be protected under a Tenancy Deposit Protection Scheme as the tenancy didn't start before April 2007 and the rent was less than £25,000 a year. He advises you to lodge a claim with the scheme named on the tenancy agreement. He also advises you to use the agent's internal complaints procedure to try to resolve this and if that doesn't get you a satisfactory outcome then contact the Property Ombudsman (see www.tpos.co.uk).
And next time, go through tenancy agreement with a fine-tooth comb.
- 1 Tunisia hotel attack: Locals form 'human shield' to protect hotel from gunman Seifeddine Rezgui
- 2 Greece crisis: Alexis Tsipras accepts troika bailout proposals with conditions
- 3 German ethics council calls for incest between siblings to be legalised by Government
- 4 French woman dies in freak bungee jumping accident
- 5 Facebook rainbow profile pictures likely being tracked by social network
The moment a Queen's Guard soldier lost it and drew his gun at annoying tourist
Greece crisis: IMF was pushed around by Angela Merkel and Nicholas Sarkozy – and now it is being humiliated
Greece crisis: The wider lesson is that it’s time to abandon this failed experiment in currencies
'I wish the BBC would stop calling it Islamic State' – David Cameron unleashes frustration at broadcaster
Pentagon accuses Russia of 'playing with fire' over nuclear threats towards Nato
They are neither a 'state' nor 'Islamic': Why we shouldn't call them Isis, Isil or IS
iJobs Money & Business
£15000 - £16000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Customer Service Advisors are r...
£20000 - £25000 per annum + OTE £45K: SThree: SThree were established in 1986....
£40000 - £60000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Compliance Manager is require...
£22500 - £27000 per annum + OTE £45K: SThree: Since our inception in 1986, STh...
Day In a Page
Close to the market town of Eye, this four-bedroom detached home offers a double-height living room which takes the place of the original, 19th-century, chapel nave.
Dating back to the 19th century, this four-bedroom home needs modernising. Spanning three storeys, the red-brick house has a fireplace, a small terrace and a cellar.
Just outside of Cambridge, this single-storey home offers three double bedrooms, a living room with vaulted timber ceiling and ladder steps that lead to a mezzanine study area.
This six-bedroom Georgian home is on three floors with open fireplaces, a two oven Aga, an annexe, and cottage gardens with outbuildings and a car barn.
A former coach house, Glebe Farm Stable is now a three-bedroom cottage with a double car barn, an attached office, kennels and an outbuilding that's currently used as a gym.
Located beside an impressive Victorian viaduct, this four-bedroom home has an open-plan living area that is glazed on two sides, with skylights and high ceilings.
A former furniture workshop, this three-bedroom home has high ceilings and painted brick walls, in a village setting only fifteen miles from the coast.
This five-bedroom stone townhouse features a pine staircase and an Inglenuk fireplace, double doors from the lounge give access to an enclosed courtyard.
This five-bedroom, detached home blends traditional and modern design; the sleek kitchen features a gas hob and oven set within an exposed chimney breast.
Moored in Chelsea's Cheyne Walk, this houseboat offers two double bedrooms and a teak deck that's ideal for al-fresco dining.
Surrounded by woodland, this five-bedroom manor house has plenty of outdoor storage space in the form of three converted loose boxes, two smaller outhouses and a woodstore.
This six-bedroom home is set amongst three acres of grounds. Currently a large family home, Clift Hill has potential to make a B&B or countryside retreat, subject to change of use permissions.
This Grade II-listed three-bedroom home is situated on a private road, just a short walk from the sandy beaches of Frinton-on-Sea.
Less than five miles from Malmesbury, this four-bedroom cottage comes with equestrian facilities and gardens that extend to approximately three acres.
Spanning three storeys, this late-Victorian five-bedroom farmhouse is a spacious family home with a modern interior and B&B potential.
With an original church arch, this triplex one-bedroom church conversion has a light, spacious, feel and comes with a secure off-street parking space.
This recently-refurbished three-bedroom home has bi-folding doors that lead out to a decked seating area - ideal for alfresco dining this summer.
Well-located for coastal walks and popular restaurants, this detached four-bedroom home offers views over farmland, to the Solent, the Purbecks and Bournemouth.
If you love high ceilings, school conversions like this one are bang on the money. This two-bedroom flat is minutes from Burgess Park and the foodie haven at Borough Market.
Set within a church conversion in Bermondsey, this two-bedroom maisonette combines existing features, such as original arches and brickwork, with a contemporary finish.
In the pretty market town of Bungay, this grade II-listed Mill House is arranged over four floors, offering four bedrooms and three reception areas.
This four-bedroom Edwardian home offers a combination of original features and contemporary design after a renovation by the current owners.
This four-bedroom home offers a vaulted ceiling in a breakfast room that's ideal for summer entertaining with doors that open to the patio and garden.
On the market for the first time in more than 50 years, this six-bedroom home is a project with vast potential - spread over three floors of living space.
This five-bedroom home comes with a range of outbuildings including a large barn which could be converted into a self-contained granny-flat or rental.
Surrounded by rolling countryside, this four-bedroom barn conversion comes with a self-contained, one-bedroom annexe that could serve as an office or a holiday let.
Located near Harrogate town centre, this five-bedroom Victorian terrace is arranged over three storeys while a current study serves as an optional sixth bedroom.
A ground-floor flat in a country house, located a mile from Sway; this two-bedroom home would make an ideal weekend retreat on the edge of the New Forest.
On a popular residential lane in Caterham on the Hill, this four-bedroom family home offers a secluded garden and a convenient location for local schools and public transport.
Just a short walk from Westerham green, this three-bedroom cottage has a light kitchen with exposed brickwork and double doors that lead to a south-facing garden.
In a prime spot opposite the River Thames, this one-bedroom flat has an 18sq ft reception room with glass doors that open out to a private terrace.
Set in the hills above Llanwrda Village, west Wales, this 18th-century three-bedroom farmhouse has holiday-let potential from a separate barn conversion and annexe.
This charming end-of-terrace townhouse is arranged over three floors, with two double bedrooms and a private courtyard garden located at the rear of the property.
Located in the University area, this semi-detached five-bedroom home is arranged over three floors - there's even a rear garden and off-road parking too.
Only a few minutes' drive from the charming town of Marlow, this two-bedroom home sits on the private riverside estate of Harleyford.
This detached four-bedroom home in Middleyard is arranged over two floors, with features that include a wood-burning stove and bespoke oak staircase.
In a row of eight detached Georgian residences, this five-bedroom home offers views of The Sound, Mount Edgcumbe and Cornwall from its impressive veranda and full-length balcony.
If you love cooking for friends this two-bedroom flat - complete with views of the iconic Battersea Power Station and an open-plan kitchen/dining area - will go down a treat.
Located above Grasmere village, this five-bedroom home is arranged over three floors and offers countryside views across Grasmere Lake towards Silver Howe.
This four-bedroom detached home comes with a double carport, useful workshop, garden and two walkways that offer views of the adjacent countryside.
With space for an equestrian business, a greenhouse for growing your own veg, a wine store and a gym; this five-bedroom home has all the ingredients for a country retreat.
The decked roof terrace of this two-bedroom flat is perfect for summer drinks while large windows and ample storage space make for a light and spacious interior.
Set sail for this four-bedroom farmhouse in Cowes. With five acres of land and an indoor pool, this home oozes character. There is even potential to let a one-bedroom annexe.
Surrounded by approximately 15 acres of grounds, this six-bedroom grade II-listed home has been extensively refurbished yet retains many period features.
This four-bedroom home comes with a two-bedroom cottage and commercial office, with planning to extend, in a stunning courtyard setting.
In a pretty Norfolk village, this four-bedroom family home is surrounded by landscaped gardens, with even a self-contained annex for guests.
A few miles from the seaside at Perranporth, this four-bedroom farmhouse sits amongst nine acres of idyllic grounds - including a lake and two barns used as holiday lets.
This five-bedroom home is arranged over three floors of a converted Victorian hospital, offering spectacular views of the Pentland Hills - only three miles from the city centre.
This four-bedroom detached home comes with grounds that span to approximately 2.5 acres, as well as two large patio areas and a double garage.
This four-bedroom cottage is a Grade II-listed town house, well-located for the thriving market town of Nailsworth.