Bristol & West took 3.5 yrs to sell property

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My husband had a morgage with Bristol & West in 1991 and was unable to keep up property so handed keys back. He received letter dated 11th May 2000 asking for 59655.42 from sale of property in Feb 1995. After months of letter writing from ourselves and our solicitors, we have received a 'Without Predjudice' letter accepting 6000.00.

We feel that as the Bristol & West took 3.5 yrs to sell the property, the 6yr limitation period should not begin from the date of the sale of the property, but from when the keys were handed back in 1991. We do not feel that they have the right to demand this money when they have accepted that they took a considerable time to sell it, and we don't think we should pay them a penny.

Where do we go from here?

-- Mrs K L Hill (alamosecurity@hotmail.com), February 15, 2001

Answers

In order of priority, what you do next is:

1. Read the Repossession and Do's and Don'ts sections within this site 2. Give yourself a week to let what you've read sink in 3. Serve a Subject Access Rights Notice on Bristol & West and also send them a polite letter responding to their last letter to you. The polite letter should ask them for copies of all documentation supporting their claim and say that you are putting them to strict proof of their claim. 4. Read this Q&A section while awaiting their response

What you will have done at this point is politely throw the legal ball back into their court. So the onus is on them to follow the law.

Here's what you will have done: The polite request is simply a right you have when someone claims you owe them money. You don't have to pay it until it is proven to you. So you are saying: prove it to me. (Because if they can't prove it to you, they can't prove it to the court. They know this already so there's no point in telling them this in the letter - it will just make you look spiteful).

The Subject Access Rights Notice is something you can serve on a lender whenever you want. The reason you are doing it here is because you want information and this (theoretically) forces them to supply it. If the lender doesn't supply it, they have opened themselves up to a complaint to the Data Protection Commissioner and given you some evidence that you can put in front of the judge showing how unhelpful they have been (if they ever did take you to court).

Lee

-- Lee (repossession@bigfoot.com), February 16, 2001.


Unfortunately the 'six year rule' is a voluntary code so the lenders can (and do) make up their own rules to suit themselves, like it beginning from the point of sale.

The lenders claim that in law they have 12 years to pursue mortgage shortfall debts, which is what your lender will say to you if you query the time elapsed. However, this point has yet to be tested in the Court of Appeal. Abbey National were going to test it last year, against a couple called the Holmans, but mysteriously settled at the last minute. Abbey even paid the Holmans' costs. Read into that what you will.

Like Lee says, read the Repossession section of this web ste thoroughly. It's a minefield of useful information.

I would add that after all this time it is worth thinking about whether or not the lender has even kept the original documentation for the mortgage account. It's going to have a hard time proving this claim if has disposed of original records. The figure it quites is very high, and very specific. How does it account for this figure? Are you satisfied with its evidence?

-- Eleanor Scott (eleanor.scott@btinternet.com), February 18, 2001.


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