Seeking Advice on how to Respond to Developer

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Seeking Advice on how to Respond to Developer

Postby Holly911 » Thu Jul 18, 2013 11:33 am

Hi All

I would appreciate your help and advice with this matter.

In 2008 I purchased a brand new 3-storey townhouse in a large development up north. I didn't let it until 2009 but since then I've had a string of problems with the boiler and now my tenants have said they will move out if it continues.

On 3 July 2013 I sent the following email to the developer attaching a chronology (attached) of the problems with the boiler.

"Dear Mr Smith, I was informed that you are aware of the history of problems regarding the boiler and plumbing at the above property. For ease of reference I have attached a chronology of the problems and cost for sorting out these problems. You will see that in a short space of time I paid to have the pump replaced twice. I am bringing this matter to your attention now before any further problems arise as my tenants have threatened to move out if they experience any more problems with the boiler/heating/plumbing. I have been advised on several occasions that the boiler is unreliable and of poor quality and some of the issues are due to poor workmanship when the property was built.

I trust that we can come to an amicable arrangement to resolve these ongoing problems as clearly there has been a fundamental problem from the outset. As the weather has warmed up and the central heating is not being used this is an opportune time to get these problems sorted out. I am also seeking reimbursement of at least half the costs I have had to pay to rectify the problems."

[The issues were reported to me by my agent (Phil). The current tenants moved in August 2011. The NHBC warranty expired September 2010 (2-year warranty)].

On 9 July I received a reply from the developer and would appreciate some advice on how to respond.

"As far as we were aware this issue was completely resolved in April 2011, and as such we have fulfilled our obligations under the terms and conditions of the warranty, however we are willing to send a plumber to investigate as a gesture. Please advise if this is convenient for you and I will appoint a contractor."
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Re: Seeking Advice on how to Respond to Developer

Postby Nick » Thu Jul 18, 2013 1:03 pm

Holly,

I note your boiler is Ariston ...... I put in 8 Ariston Boilers in 2003 ..... disaster. I had breakdown after breakdown even within the warranty period. On one the engineer complained that every single part had been replaced except the chassis & it still hadn't fixed the fault - which is of course impossible, so I don't know if Ariston upset God in a previous life ...........

Now I hate saying this to people, because it doesn't go down well, but I don't think that you have an argument. It's just too long now, and they are within their rights to walk away. I can see that you have a great evidence trail, and there are no large gaps of more than 3/4 months in it, so you can claim that they have never fixed the problem and that the warranty dispute is ongoing - but that sounds an uphill struggle.

They do sound a fair outfit that they are still supporting you all these years later, so my approach would be to ask them to replace the boiler with a Worcester-Bosch and offer to pay 50% & take over maintenance issues thereafter. If they go for that you've really had a result!
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Re: Seeking Advice on how to Respond to Developer

Postby Rob H » Thu Jul 18, 2013 2:56 pm

Nick wrote:Holly,

I note your boiler is Ariston ...... I put in 8 Ariston Boilers in 2003 ..... disaster. I had breakdown after breakdown even within the warranty period. On one the engineer complained that every single part had been replaced except the chassis & it still hadn't fixed the fault - which is of course impossible, so I don't know if Ariston upset God in a previous life ...........

Now I hate saying this to people, because it doesn't go down well, but I don't think that you have an argument. It's just too long now, and they are within their rights to walk away. I can see that you have a great evidence trail, and there are no large gaps of more than 3/4 months in it, so you can claim that they have never fixed the problem and that the warranty dispute is ongoing - but that sounds an uphill struggle.

They do sound a fair outfit that they are still supporting you all these years later, so my approach would be to ask them to replace the boiler with a Worcester-Bosch and offer to pay 50% & take over maintenance issues thereafter. If they go for that you've really had a result!


I disagree on the 'out of time' argument stated by Nick based on my own experiences with new builds.

The NHBC warranty is a waste of space (in the main) they a toothless organisation who are paid for by the housebuilding industry and hence, discouraged from costing their subscribers too much money unless there are serious structural issues. I speak from personal experience in relation to a number of properties, a number of developers and therefore disregard the 'blurb'

Having said that, for the first two years of the warranty period, the developer is wholly responsible for 'making good' (NHBC cover years 3 -10 inclusive)

The key to this is that the dispute was notified to the developer within a reasonable time period, within the first two years. On the basis that this issue has not been closed out, the claim (in my opinion) remains live as supported by your catalogue of events. Yes it beggars the question 'Why haven't you taken action earlier?' but I believe you should.

Again from personal experience, you are not going to resolve this via exchanges of correspondence alone and suggest the following course of action.

> Issue a seven day notice letter(content easily sourced via the internet) of imminent proceedings to the Developer. Issue the letter by 'signed for' post to their registered office.
> On Day 8, commence proceedings for the full amount claimed (you can use the first seven to fine tune your numbers if required) via Money Claim Online.
> Within say a week, you will almost certainly received correspondence from their Solicitor
* Do not speak to them on the telephone, under any circumstances, only by letter.
* They will almost certainly tell you that your claim is not valid either due to a) failure to notify properly, b) that the issue has already been closed out or c) that your claim hasn't been issued in accordance with the Civil Procedure Rules and they will ask the court to strike it out.
* Whatever they hit you with, if you hold your nerve, have been reasonable with your claimed amount and have plenty of good evidence to support the ongoing problems, it is highly unlikely that they will allow matters to go to court. In the unlikely event that a hearing date is set, as an individual sueing a company, the case will be allocated to your local county court so don't worry about having to travel. However, I repeat, its very unlikely to go to a hearing unless its a relatively small developer.

I have followed this procedure on 3 or 4 occasions and have been successful each time with one case where a national building contractor had funds couriered to me on a Saturday morning!

Hold your nerve, post up any questions that you may have and I'll do my best to answer.

NB - I am not a qualified lawyer nor have I been legally trained. Any advice given either now or in the future is based on past personal experiences and circumstances in your own case may be different.
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Re: Seeking Advice on how to Respond to Developer

Postby Jo King » Thu Jul 18, 2013 9:15 pm

:clap: Well done Rob - great post.

I have been involved to an extent with some Zurich claims which were similar - Developer for first 2 years then Zurich took over for remaining 8 years (although Zurich now don't do these policies any more). As you say, if the initial contact was made to the Developer within the 2 years and the problem has not been resolved properly then it's still the Developer's liability.

Oh and I'd favour Vaillant boilers personally, not knocking Worcester Bosch though.
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Re: Seeking Advice on how to Respond to Developer

Postby Nick » Thu Jul 18, 2013 9:18 pm

Jo King wrote::clap: Well done Rob - great post.


Agreed.
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Re: Seeking Advice on how to Respond to Developer

Postby Holly911 » Thu Jul 18, 2013 10:11 pm

Thank you for your advice. Walkerfox I agree with you that this is an ongoing problem that clearly was never resolved and thankfully I kept all the emails to track it all back. Thank you.

I am happy to go with your suggestion of filing a claim but as they have offered to send a plumber to take a look shouldn't I give them that opportunity first and if their suggested resolution is unsatisfactory then I take it to the next stage of filing a claim? Any advice on how I should word my reply to them?
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Seeking Advice on how to Respond to Developer

Postby Rob H » Fri Jul 19, 2013 3:30 pm

Hi,

If this was early on I would say yes, go ahead. However, there is a catalogue of disappointment resulting in significant loss and expense to you.

This is my suggestion.

Send letter by recorded post as per previous.

Confirm visit of plumber provided that they a) acknowledge full liability, in writing and b) reimburse you for all reasonable costs incurred.

It's unlikely that they will. More probable is they will say "it's out of time, this is a goodwill gesture, we accept no liability" the purpose of his is to test/push you further and to see if they can fix on the cheap.

Unless they give you100% of what you ask for then issue the formal notice and I repeat, hold your nerve. What ever you do, don't ever take it personally although I appreciate it is. You're dealing with people who do this for a living, it's day to day, run of the mill and they don't really care, it's just business. Be assured that they wear more people down than they pay out to, don't be one of he masses.

You have found support now, please keep us posted.
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Re: Seeking Advice on how to Respond to Developer

Postby Holly911 » Sun Jul 21, 2013 4:44 pm

Thank you for your help Walkerfox. I'm prepared for the resistance I'll undoubtedly encounter. I will definitely post updates as things progress.
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Re: Seeking Advice on how to Respond to Developer

Postby Holly911 » Mon Jul 29, 2013 5:03 pm

Hi Walkerfox

"Unless they give you 100% of what you ask for then issue the formal notice and I repeat, hold your nerve."

I spent some time over the weekend thinking about the options to put forward to the developer. What are your thoughts on the draft letter please? I've given two options but can't decide if that's a good thing or not.


"Thank you for your email of 9 July 2013 in response to my email sent to Mr Smith on 3 July.

I note that you offered to send a plumber to investigate the ongoing issues at the property but there needs to be a concrete plan of action to ensure that the problems are fully resolved. The problems were first reported to you within the 2-year warranty period and were not resolved properly despite representatives from [developer] attending the property.

My tenants are threatening to move out as they have two small children which could then result in a void period. As you know from the attachment in my first email, there has been a catalogue of problems so this is not a new problem. The problems are ongoing and have become quite costly through no fault of my own. I have therefore set out below a couple of proposals for your consideration:

(a) Replace the boiler with one of the following makes: Vaillant, Worcester Bosch or Ideal Logic Plus. Installation of new boiler to be carried out in accordance with the Gas Safety Regulations (to include power flush, an inhibitor, Magnaclean (or similar product) and scale reducer to be fitted). Installation to be carried by 23 August 2013 having given me prior notice of the date and time on which the works are to be carried out and the anticipated length of time this will take so that I can notify the tenants.

Reimbursement of costs of £650. [NB: this represents approx. 50% of the costs I've paid]

(b) Accept full liability and arrange for an engineer from Ariston to carry out a full investigation within the next 2 weeks. Their report will provide an unbiased view of the situation. One of the pumps that was installed in the boiler but had to be replaced within a short period of time was sent back to them at their request. Upon receipt of Ariston’s official report I will then put forward a proposal for the next plan of action for a complete resolution.

Reimbursement of costs of £650.

I look forward to hearing from you with agreement to either option (a) or (b) above by close of business on Friday 2 August 2013. If I do not hear from you by that time I will have no option but to issue a 7-day Notice of Court Proceedings."
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Seeking Advice on how to Respond to Developer

Postby Rob H » Mon Jul 29, 2013 8:59 pm

Hi, I'm in Spain with my family until Wednesday but then have a really busy two days back home.

I'll gladly help but could you please wait for a proper considered response by say, Sunday?
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Re: Seeking Advice on how to Respond to Developer

Postby Holly911 » Tue Jul 30, 2013 2:26 pm

Thanks for replying. Yes, I'll wait as I'd rather get your opinion on the email before I send it. Have a safe journey home!
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Re: Seeking Advice on how to Respond to Developer

Postby Holly911 » Tue Jan 12, 2016 5:41 pm

This matter is still not resolved yet but I'm pressing on.
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