Linden Homes - AVOID What's the point..

Saqib

New Member
After deciding against a Persimmon home after reading this forum and other info online, we found a new Linden Homes development nearby.

We liked one of the plots and with not TOO much info/experiences on Linden online and on this forum we decided to go with them.

We reserved the plot £2k and when going through the details they said that for X X and X reasons we should use their recommended solicitor. I've read all the online information and politely said no I will use my own. She asked who the solicitor was and I gave the name, immediately she said no way we won't use them as we've had bad experiences with them on this development. I've been using them for years for my house purchases and have never had issue.

Anyway I said I still want to use them and that they will not be a problem. She said she would need to speak to head office....

After the phone call she came back and said that they would take £1k off solicitor fees if I used theirs.. I still said no and finally she put my solicitors details down.

Today I get a phone call saying that head office are still refusing to use my specific solicitor because of the problems. Meanwhilst I had spoken to my solicitor who said that they had not acted at all yet for any of the homes on this development, so they were chatting total nonsense.

I still played along and said ok that's fine I will use another solicitor of mine, she refused and said they would only proceed with the sale IF I use their solicitor. I wouldn't give in.. so the sale has been cancelled and my deposit refunded :(.

I know I've probably got away lucky, but I can't help but feel gutted. I also don't understand why it is SOO massively important to them to use their solicitor??? And push it so aggressively that they won't proceed with the sale?

I guess they're hoping someone else will buy it and use their solicitor, but I still don't understand why they are so deseperate about this?? Surely the "comission" that they might get from the solicitor is not worth losing a sale over??
 

NewHomeExpert

Well-Known Member
WoW! If every there was a reason to use a particular solicitor it is when the house builder says they have had trouble with them!
No new home buyer should EVER, under ANY circumstances, use any firm of solicitors suggested or recommended by the house builder.
Why you should NEVER EVER USE A HOUSE BUILDER'S SOLICITOR and it is illegal to force you to do so!

"she refused and said they would only proceed with the sale IF I use their solicitor. I wouldn't give in.. so the sale has been cancelled and my deposit refunded"

This is absolutely not allowed under the Consumer Code for Home Builders. Requirement 2.5. Linden Homes have clearly breached this and behaved in a very underhand manner. Who knows what advantage they are seeking and what they are trying to hide from buyers. It is downright disgusting that Linden have behaved in such a manner and you should make an official complaint.
It is about time the CCHB was properly enforced and house builders that blatantly and deliberately breach basic requirements fully penalised.

This has little to do with any commission that the sales advisor may or may not be getting and everything to do with control. House builders want to be "in control" of the transaction, what you are told about, when exchange or completion place take place, what you are told about searches etc. And yes sadly, you are right, there will always be another buyer dumb enough to go along with this, especially in this market!
 
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abbottswalk

New Member
That's pretty disgraceful from Linden Homes. Does seem crazy for them to lose a sale over this, as if they were dealing with someone in a chain, they'd most likely have to use the solicitors that were selling the other house. And if things do happen too slowly, normally they can cancel and keep your reservation fee if you don't meet certain timings (although i expect developers seldom do this, but just try and pressure people to hurry up)

Did you have to pay a retainer to your own solicitor? Just wondering if you needed to 'recoup'.
 

NewHomeExpert

Well-Known Member
After deciding against a Persimmon home after reading this forum and other info online, we found a new Linden Homes development nearby.

We liked one of the plots and with not TOO much info/experiences on Linden online and on this forum we decided to go with them.

We reserved the plot £2k and when going through the details they said that for X X and X reasons we should use their recommended solicitor. I've read all the online information and politely said no I will use my own. She asked who the solicitor was and I gave the name, immediately she said no way we won't use them as we've had bad experiences with them on this development. I've been using them for years for my house purchases and have never had issue.

Anyway I said I still want to use them and that they will not be a problem. She said she would need to speak to head office....

After the phone call she came back and said that they would take £1k off solicitor fees if I used theirs.. I still said no and finally she put my solicitors details down.

Today I get a phone call saying that head office are still refusing to use my specific solicitor because of the problems. Meanwhilst I had spoken to my solicitor who said that they had not acted at all yet for any of the homes on this development, so they were chatting total nonsense.

I still played along and said ok that's fine I will use another solicitor of mine, she refused and said they would only proceed with the sale IF I use their solicitor. I wouldn't give in.. so the sale has been cancelled and my deposit refunded :(.

I know I've probably got away lucky, but I can't help but feel gutted. I also don't understand why it is SOO massively important to them to use their solicitor??? And push it so aggressively that they won't proceed with the sale?

I guess they're hoping someone else will buy it and use their solicitor, but I still don't understand why they are so deseperate about this?? Surely the "commission" that they might get from the solicitor is not worth losing a sale over??

This is such an important matter that I reported it to both the NHBC and the Consumer Code For Home Builders to investigate.
I also e mailed Greg Fitzgerald CEO of Galliford Try (Linden homes is part of the group) so they could investigate.
greg.fitzgerald@gallifordtry.co.uk

I received the following reply this morning from Andrew Richards Group Managing Director, Housebuilding:

Further to my e-mail dated 25th February, I am now in a position to respond to your e-mail.

Having investigated the allegations both in your email and the forum 'post' you refer to, the facts were not as straightforward as depicted and there were other factors involved in the decision not to accept the reservation.

The Company is fully aware of the requirements of both the Consumer Code and the Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations 2008 (CPRs) and our Sales Executives are provided with appropriate training.

Linden Homes does not coerce purchasers to use, or not to use, particular conveyancers and it is fully acknowledged that purchasers must have a free choice. Equally the Company is free to choose whether or not to accept a reservation. Where appropriate, prospective purchasers are made aware of the benefits of using firms which have been fully briefed on a particular development and the related documentation, which includes simplifying and expediting the process. They are offered a choice of firms that are entirely independent of the Company and they are provided with impartial advice in accordance with professional standards. Linden Homes do not receive commission payments in this regard.

In the case in point it is regretted that the prospective purchaser misunderstood the situation.

Yours faithfully

Andrew Richards

Well there you go, you can choose who to believe.
The purchaser who first posted, who has nothing to gain by making his experience public.
Or the plc house builder, that if proved and action was taken, could lose their NHBC membership registration, albeit in only the region concerned.
 
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Saqib

New Member
Well I got my reservation fee refunded in full, and the solicitors also refunded the deposit to act I had left with them so luckily I am not out of pocket.

This is such an important matter that I reported it to both the NHBC and the Consumer Code For Home Builders to investigate.
I also e mailed Greg Fitzgerald CEO of Galliford Try (Linden homes is part of the group) so they could investigate.


I received the following reply this morning from Andrew Richards Group Managing Director, Housebuilding:



Well there you go, you can choose who to believe.
The purchaser who first posted, who has nothing to gain by making his experience public.
Or the plc house builder, that if proved and action was taken, could lose their NHBC membership registration, albeit in only the region concerned.

Oh wow, didn't know you had taken this forward.

Looks like a very standard response from them (We didn't do that, we play by the rules...etc etc).

Would LOVE to know what other factors have been considered or how I have misunderstood what happened. I wish I could have recorded the phone call. I literally said "So you are saying if I don't use your solicitor I cannot buy the house" and the response was a clear "Yes - sorry that's what my manager has said".

I even asked her to speak to her managers to re-consider and she said their decision was final.

What a joke. Would it be illegal for me to leave prinouts of this forum post hidden all over their show home?!?! (I'm joking)
 

Saqib

New Member
Also I haven't even mentioned the development/who I spoke with... what did they investigate?
 

NewHomeExpert

Well-Known Member
Also I haven't even mentioned the development/who I spoke with... what did they investigate?

That is quite a good point.
Perhaps you could tell the forum which development it was and who decided to cancel your reservation.
At least you are not out of pocket at all, which again seems strange as it cost Linden more money to cancel.

Linden's Andrew Richards did ask me to give him three days to respond.
Perhaps this is "so rare" :p that all it took was a few phone calls to find your development and who said what.
On the other hand perhaps it is, as you say, a standard response.

Perhaps you could confirm whether there were:
facts were not as straightforward as depicted and there were other factors involved in the decision not to accept the reservation.
and what they were (if any)

Unfortunately, house builders forcing buyers to use their choice of solicitor is far too common. Many buyers don't even realise what they are agreeing to and what they are giving up (an independent legal expert working ONLY in the buyer's best interests)

Only this week there was an advert for Churchill Retirement Living stating "panel solicitors" like it was some kind of advantage or plus point for buying with Churchill - a USP. The authorities must come down hard on this breach of not only the Consumer Code for Home Builders but also Consumer Protection Regulations.

As for Making a Subject Access Request you can find a Template Letter here.
It could be well worth the tenner, if only to cause Linden both embarrassment and inconvenience.
 
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Saqib

New Member
The development is Oakbrook, Langley and it was plot 52 which is actually still available! The girl at the development dealing with me was Sue.

In term's of other factors, I'll give a bit more detail now and let you decide.

When I reserved I put in an offer of £10k below the asking price, which they accepted and is the price we reserved on and is on the reservation contract.

When she called back after a few days after speaking to her "Manager" she said that because they've done me a favour by giving me a £10k discount, I need to do them a favour and use their recommended solicitor. I said they haven't done me a favour, they accepted my offer and have agreed to reserve me the plot at the discounted price WITHOUT any caveats to whom my solicitor would be (my solicitor is actually written on the reservation contract anyway). And now subsequently you are saying that I can't by this house if I use this solicitor.

I asked if I was to pay the asking price then could I use my solicitor, again she said she would have to check with her manager. But there was no way I was going to pay an extra £10k just to use my own solicitor. I said I will only buy the house at the agreed price and with the solicitor on the contract, to which they refused and ending up cancelling the reservation.

I could (nearly) understand if they said we'll give you £10k off IF you use our solicitor, but for the reservation to be made with the £10k off AND my solicitor on the contract and then tell me afterwards I need to use theirs I find unethical and deceptive :(

Not sure what benefit the subject access request would get me?
 

NewHomeExpert

Well-Known Member
You have to question why using Linden's "recommended" solicitor is doing Linden a favour!
But what I think happened, was that the sales advisor got ahead of her responsibilities and gave you far more than the allowed 'negotiables' she had authority to offer without first talking to the area sales manager or a director.
That being the case they wanted to cancel your reservation anyway and this was going to be the best way to do it.

A Subject Access Request would give you copies of everything they have said about this experience and what they had said to each other about you. If you have moved on now anyway, it will only be of superficial interest - but would nevertheless cause Linden a great deal of inconvenience, time and expense.
 

Saqib

New Member
Ok - have now submitted the request via recorded delivery using the template. Let's see how/when they respond.

If there is for an example an email saying "force him to use the solicitor" or anything incriminating like that - what stops them from witholding that email when they send me the information? I know it's illegal but unless it resulted in a fully fledged court investigation it would never b e found out? Right?
 

NewHomeExpert

Well-Known Member
Yes there's the rub, but they would be foolish to do this.
The Information Commissioner has the power to visit company's offices, seize information and if it was discovered that anything had been withheld it would be very serious. No company would be that STUPID in my opinion!

If you get a copy of an e mail saying "force him to use the solicitor" or anything like that, please let me have a copy!
 

Saqib

New Member
Have some posts been deleted from this thread?? (Where I said I've submitted an SAR and NHE asked to share the response with the forum???)

Anyway, today marks 40 days after submitting the SAR and I have yet to receive a response from Linden Homes... :( ....Anything I can do now??
 

NewHomeExpert

Well-Known Member
Not sure if any posts have been deleted or why they would have been.
Linden would have asked for the whole thread to be taken down I think.
But if Linden don't like the bad publicity, then they know what they have to do!

Failure to comply with a Subject Access Request within 40 days is a clear breach of the Data Protection Act 1998.
You should contact Linden and tell them they have failed to comply and that you are reporting them to the ICO office.
The ICO will take this matter very seriously - but be warned it could take up to a year before you hear back from them and you may have to chase the ICO every now and then.

More on this from the ICO website
 

NewHomeReviews

New Member
Wow, I can't believe Linden would throw away a sale (which it seems they haven't resold yet) over this.

True, there are some genuine and non-controversial advantages to using a recommended solicitor for a developer (getting things processed on time etc.) but this feels very murky, especially as your solicitor disputes having ever dealt with them. Sounds like you've had a lucky escape and that there's an ulterior motive behind their actions - as NHE said this is probably all about control. Still, I am shocked that they would cancel over this.
 

NewHomeExpert

Well-Known Member
Wow, I can't believe Linden would throw away a sale (which it seems they haven't resold yet) over this.

True, there are some genuine and non-controversial advantages to using a recommended solicitor for a developer (getting things processed on time etc.) but this feels very murky, especially as your solicitor disputes having ever dealt with them. Sounds like you've had a lucky escape and that there's an ulterior motive behind their actions - as NHE said this is probably all about control. Still, I am shocked that they would cancel over this.

There are absolutely NO ADVANTAGES for buyers using any solicitor suggested or recommended by the house builder!
 

NewHomeReviews

New Member
Sorry if it wasn't clear but my point was actually that there are legitimate advantages for a developer in recommending a solicitor, such as being able to process a sale faster and without taking a risk on the quality of the solicitor - Bad solicitors can really hold up and jeopardise sales, which neither party wants. In this case, the lengths they have gone to strongly suggest some other motivation beyond those concerns which seems suspicious.

I personally would always recommend getting a competent independent solicitor but I also know plenty of people who haven't done so, who haven't had any problems.
 

Saqib

New Member
Sorry, just realized no posts have actually been deleted.

I've just sent off the ICO non-compliance letter (which gives another 14 days to respond) as well as a copy of the original letter. Let's see if they respond to this...

If not it looks I just just submit a request for review to the ICO. I've got a feeling Linden won't ever respond and ICO will never do anything about it!

:(
 
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