Questions of Cash: Mortgage was paid off but no one told the Land Registry


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The Independent Online

Q. My husband and I bought our house in June 1980 with a 20-year mortgage taken out with the former Leeds Building Society. As interest rates went up we increased our payments and did not decrease them when rates went down, so we paid off the mortgage early.

However we never received a DS1 form – proof that the mortgaged amount had been repaid – from either the Leeds Building Society or from Halifax, which took over Leeds. The Land Registry Office says they must have this for us to sell the property. Our local branch of the Halifax gave me a telephone number of the help desk which was very helpful, but I have written to the Halifax three times without getting a reply. MA, Hampshire

A. Halifax apologises for failing to deal with your inquiries properly. It says it is unable to issue a DS1 form. "These forms were produced by solicitors who were dealing with redemptions," it explains. "We would then complete these forms by adding the charge details and the solicitors would then send this on to the Land Registry to have the charge removed." Instead, it says, your solicitor or yourself should have completed a Form 53 at the time the mortgage was fully paid off, sending this to the Land Registry so that the mortgage lender's charge on the property was removed.

Halifax has checked the Land Registry records and confirms that the charge was never removed. The system is now fully electronic and Halifax has removed the charge to resolve the problem. It accepts that it did not deal with your inquiries correctly and has therefore sent you £75 to compensate you for your "distress and inconvenience".

Q. Around 12 years ago I was looking for a decent current account that paid interest. At that time Fidelity operated a cash unit trust in partnership with Clydesdale Bank, which provided the bank card and direct debits. This met my needs. In April last year I decided to change my current account provider and subsequently closed my account with Fidelity and therefore Clydesdale as well.

A couple of weeks ago, I received a letter from Equiniti, telling me my dividends from Lloyds Banking Group payable on 17 September last year and 15 March this year had been paid to my old Clydesdale/Fidelity account. The total sum involved is £25.90. It seems I hadn't told Equiniti of my change of bank.

I have phoned each party several times and none can help me, each referring me to the others. Equiniti insists it has sent the payments. Fidelity says this is between Equiniti and Clydesdale. Clydesdale says I have no account with them and they would have sent any payment back to Equiniti. I shredded my Clydesdale Bank account details soon after the account was closed. Can you help to track down the payments? NR, by email.

A. Clydesdale says the payment of £12.95 made last September by Equiniti on behalf of Lloyds was received into your account, which was still open at this time. It therefore forms part of your cash fund holding with Fidelity. The second payment of £12.95 was returned to Equiniti.

Equiniti, which is Lloyds' share registrar, confirms that this second payment was returned to it and Equiniti will now issue you with a cheque for £12.95.

Equiniti says it has a continual problem with shareholders not advising the share registrar of changes in bank accounts or addresses. It says it has returned £540m of funds to shareholders who failed to notify that they had moved bank accounts. Equiniti has worked with ProSearch to contact shareholders whose account information is out of date, or who have failed to advise it of a change of address.

Q. I had a problem some years ago with my teenage daughter swearing, so I started a swear box for us all to pay into. She has now moved out, still swears, but has left behind the swear box with a couple of hundred pounds in it! The trouble is that it is all in spare change and I don't know how to spend it. The idea was to go out for a really good meal, but I'm sure that a restaurant wouldn't let us pay in pennies and 10p coins. RS, Worcester

A. Lots of banks will let customers pay even large amounts of spare cash into their accounts. Barclays says that providing an individual has an account with it, the cash can be paid into their account. It can't, though, immediately be converted into notes. The cash must be bagged up in the correct denominations and needs to be rounded to full pounds. The bank asks customers not to make large cash deposits at busy times – in particular avoiding Saturdays and lunchtimes. RBS takes a similar approach, while many HSBC branches contain machines that enable spare cash to be automatically counted and paid into customers' accounts.

The Co-operative Bank says it does not impose limits on the amount of loose change that can be paid into an account, nor does the cash need to be bagged. But it asks customers who are depositing very large amounts of loose change – several hundred pounds or more – to give the branch advance warning.

The Post Office also accepts unrestricted amounts of spare change for deposit in accounts with banks where it has a contract to undertake customer transactions.

Otherwise you can use the small change to pay for shopping in large supermarkets that have automated (self-service) tills. Sainsbury's says it has no limit to the amount of change that can be used in its automated payment machines.

Many supermarkets have Coinstar machines located at their entrance, which convert cash into vouchers to be redeemed in store. However, these charge a commission of 8.9 per cent, which seems excessive to us.

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