Final Defecit / Abbey Nat / Eversheds

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My partners previous home (16,500 joint mortgage with her ex) was repossessed in 2000. This was later sold for 17,500 - so she's made a "profit" on paper.

Not according to Eversheds and their representative who, having sent their first ever letter a fortnight ago - i.e. 3 years after the event - have started to "negotiate" with her over the phone. According to them, she now "owes" over 5000 due to "fees" that range from the seemingly acceptable (587 conveyancing fee) to the highly questionable (Sellers commission 940). All we have as "proof" is a photocopied spreadsheet that, in all honesty my 13 yr old could have made more convincing, and a load of subtle (and NOT so subtle) threats.

Today, they then offer to half it over the phone if she coughs up in 7 days...

Do we:

A) Pay the 2500 within 7 days B) Offer them a couple of hundred quid? C) Tell them to go and boil their heads?

After reading advice on this site, they look to me to be on shaky ground at the very best - should we still do all the SARNing stuff, or simply ignore them? We are going to request all further communications in writing, as the phone calls are getting annoying, intrusive and stressful.

Advice appreciated

Andy Robson

-- Andrew Robson (andyrobson@route21.freeserve.co.uk), April 14, 2003

Answers

Andy,

I'm afraid joint borrowers are joint and severally liable- either can be sued for the full amount. In my opinion all lenders should be made to justify their claims. Firstly in any communications with the lender/debt collector you must make it clear that you deny liability and dispute the claim, also include the words "Without prejudice" in a letter, this even applies for anyone acting on your behalf. If you don't, you may acknowledge the debt, and the 12 year limitation period will restart. The period they can pursue is (in theory at least )ndefinite if an MJO was issued. If your partner's ex makes a part payment this may also restart the limitation period for both. You could start by requesting the necessary info (including a proper breakdown of all the fees) by a normal letter (see also the Do's & Dont's section) and if they don't play ball then SARN them. I would also send it by recorded delivery. I would certainly make them communicate in writing in the future, if you can remember try and note down what was said in the phone conversations and by whom, with dates. If it were me I wouldn't take any of the options A,B,C at the moment, I would get all the facts together first and take it from there, i.e. dispute the exorbitant fees. If there is genuinely a shortfall at the end then you could negotiate a settlement. One question, did the lender always know where to contact your partner? Could this be used as an excuse for the delay? I would also get your local MP involved, if he's not helpful go to another, for example one who signed Mike Hancock's EDM 62 (see list on the repo site). I wouldn't ignore this problem, it will only make matters worse in the long run. I'm not a professional legal adviser though, so please check this with one. Hope this helps. Good Luck.

Mark.

-- M Amos (idgroms@hotmail.com), April 14, 2003.


Andy,

My maths has never been any good, but I can use a calculator. 587 + 940 = 1527, how is the other 3 and a half grand made up? Ask you local estate agents about selling commissions, I am not sure how much estate agents charge these days.

Ask the lender for copies of all invoices which they claim make up this shortfall. Also, ask for bank statements to prove they have actually given this money to their supplier - they would ask the same of you if they send you an income and outgoings form (they expect you to provide bills and bank statements). Check all figures against each other, as they sometimes get "transposed", and 490 becomes 940 (although I am sure this only down to typing errors)!!!!!!

If they don't/won't send you the info you require, then SARN them. Don't take their word for anything, the majority of us here can tell you about figures that don't quite add up. If it looks strange to you, it probably is, so ask questions - lots of them.

I agree with you about not using the phone to negotiate. If it's written down they have to stick to what they say. Always refer to the shortfall as an "alleged debt", and do not admit liability in any way. Ask them why it has taken so long to contact you.

Good luck.

Tracey

-- One Angry Mother (madcow678@hotmail.com), April 15, 2003.


(Sorry for delay in responding)

Regarding the total amount, they say 1500 interest, and around 2000 in various charges with obscure but official sounding names i.e. "Litigation Fees", "Administration Fees" and "Possession Sevice"

I have asked them to provide more details other than the spreadsheet with the above but they won't - saying this would be a breach of their clients confidentiality.

I am about to reply telling them that if they won't provide full invoices for all of the above then as far as we're concerned they can sing for the money.

Should I include an offer "in full and final" for a small amount at the end of my letter, or should I simply wait and see how they respond.

Also, people advise using "without prejudice" on letters, but I thought this was to stop them being read out in court. Surely if we want to look reasonable if it ever goes to court, then our letters are evidence of this and as such we would want them to be produced..

Any comments on this....

Andy

-- Andrew Robson (andyrobson@route21.freeserve.co.uk), April 21, 2003.


Andy,

Personally, I would SARN them first and then if they don't produce the required docs after the 40 day period then report them to the IC. Notwithstanding this many lenders won't produce the documentation requested until they are forcd to do so, for example under "Discovery", when they suddenly find them as if by magic. I wouldn't advise anyone to rely on non production of docs as a defence. The following definition is from a legal dictionary:

Without prejudice A statements set onto a written document which qualifies the signatory as exempted from it's content to the extent that they may be interpreted as containing admissions or other interpretations which could later be used against the person signing; or as otherwise affecting any legal rights of the person signing. A lawyer will often send a letter "without prejudice" in case the letter makes admissions which could later prove inconvenient to the client.

I don't think the "Without Prejudice" would prevent letters from being read out in court, but I'll check. Indeed, I know some barristers say this wording should not be relied upon, I think it is more important to always make clear you dispute the claim.

Mark.

-- M Amos (idgroms@hotmail.com), April 21, 2003.


Make them fight for their money Andy. Don't admit any liability, always refer to the shortfall as an alleged debt. DO NOT MAKE ANY OFFERS, just keep asking for proof of their claim - including original copies of invoices and bank statements. Why have you been charged interest, what's that for?

Tracey x

-- One Angry Mother (madcow678@hotmail.com), April 22, 2003.



Andrew,

DO NOT UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCES PAY THEM OR OFFER TO PAY THEM ANY MONEY WHATSOEVER. MAKE THEM PROVE EVERY LAST PENNY. You must be strong and listen to the advice on this site.

Regards

-- John (sharky_john@hotmail.com), April 22, 2003.


Andy,

Further to "Without prejudice". The following is from a solicitor...

Without prejudice protects correspondence in 2 situations.

Firstly, where there is an offer to open negotiations, or secondly, where actual negotiations are taking place with a view to settlement, and in both situations the parties are in dispute.

It does not protect documents in other situations.

Mark.

-- M Amos (idgroms@hotmail.com), April 24, 2003.


FURTHER UPDATE: I sent a polite but firm letter requesting lots of information as outlined in the advice on the site. This was "crossed in the post" with a second letter from them acusing us of not responding in good time. I sent another firm letter reiterating our requests for information and reminding them it had taken FOUR YEARS for them to contact us, and their comments were a bit rich in light of this. Their third letter is lovely - a promise to consult with their client (AN) regarding the documentation requested, and that they will contact us "soon". All threats have disappeared. Their tone could not be more of a contrast with that of their previous letters. I'm hopeful they're actually gonna drop it altogether, though their politeness is actually more scary than their threats !!!!! Will keep you all informed.

Andy

-- Andy Robson (andyrobson@route21.freeserve.co.uk), May 14, 2003.


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