Q. I am buying a leasehold property and right at the eleventh hour just prior to exchange I have just had news from my solicitor that the roof on the building will need replacing within the next 12 months. That would be fine accept it appears that there is nowhere near enough money in the sinking fund to cover this expense and that the majority of the bill will need to be shared out amongst the owners. This is a massive expense and definitely not one that I have accounted for. That being said I still very much want to property but not really sure how I can still afford it. Is there anything I can do? Can I put this back on the seller as surely he will have this same issue flagging up even if I pulled out?
A. Being a first time buyer I imagine your back is against the wall financially anyway and to hear news like this and this late in the transaction can be devastating. Firstly you need to gain a clear picture of exactly how much the anticipated cost for the roof will be. Then you will need to find out how much is in the sinking fund and how many apartments are in the block or development, your solicitor should be able to give you all this information, it’s crucial that you find this information out in order to make an informed decision on what happens next. Once you have an estimated cost then you can think about the next steps. As you might appreciate a seller may feel that he is not the one that will benefit from a new roof so why should he have to put his hand in his pocket? Whereas you as the buyer will enjoy all the benefits going forward. However as you rightly say, if you were to pull out of the sale at this late stage because of this expense the seller would be back to square one and still have the same issues if he were to try to resell it. That being the case the most logical thing to happen in these circumstances is for your solicitor to ask the seller’s solicitor if their client would be willing to contribute to the cost of the new roof by way of a price reduction. Of course ultimately it will be down to the seller and how willing and motivated they are to hold the sale together. Often it’s good to get your estate agent involved at this stage as they can go back and forth between the seller and the buyer to get something agreed far quicker that it takes for solicitors to discuss and then go back to each of their respective clients. All in all as long as you have two reasonable parties that are on the same page these things can usually be worked through. Ultimately though, it does very much depend on the attitude of the seller and their keenness to get their property sold.