Interacting with a solicitor is an art ... and I failed miserably
I think numbers and facts speak for themselves, so here's a summary of my experience with my solicitor, in numbers:
- 11 MONTHS after we signed the contract and paid the Bill of Cost to the solicitor, we still don't have the documents from the Land Registry (to put this in perspective, it usually takes from 4 to 6 weeks).
- 1 FAILED submission to the Land Registry + 1 FAILED attempt to obtain a PPS number for my boyfriend (who currently still lives and resides abroad).
- 8 MONTHS after the SECOND submission to the Land Registry and the request for a new PPS number, and we still have not received a written receipt for either (after promising that we would receive these receipts, the solicitor went on vacation and forgot about it - TWICE).
In addition to these numbers, there's also the 'communication' aspect, or better yet, the lack of communication: receiving an update from the solicitor is such an exercise in frustration that I honestly cannot tell if it's because he has a particular dislike for us, it's his professional standard or this is a common occurrence with solicitors in Ireland.
To be able to receive an update, countless emails and phone calls are required, most of which end up in the voice mail.
After all these months of procrastination and justifications, we have no documents from the Land Registry that the house is ours, and only worries about what that might entail.
I can honestly say that this
So this is what I learned from it:
-1- Choose a solicitor that you know has completed successfully, and in a reasonable amount of time all the paperwork for a house purchase. Ask your friends and acquaintances for a reference.
-2- Take the initiative to ask for updates and keep up with any new developments. 2-3 business days to respond is reasonable, but more, coupled with constant delays, is not.
-3- If everything fails, threaten to complain to the Law Society of Ireland.
I know I might sound unfeeling towards the solicitor's justifications, and, at the beginning of our interactions, you can clearly see from my email correspondence that I was the most patient and understanding version of myself I could possibly be.
However, I refuse to accept that this is the level of professionalism we should expect from a solicitor. To put this in perspective, all my friends who bought a house after us (3 in total), have already received the Land Registry documents months ago!
But, to be as fair as possible in recounting this experience, I'll give you the timeline of this whole ordeal and let you judge for yourself.
Word of warning: it's pretty long and frustrating! But at least this way you have all the context should you decide to comment! :)
AUG 14, 2015
We filled out a form to obtain my boyfriend's PSS number and delivered it to the solicitor's office. That same day we paid the deposit (10% of the house) and asked for a confirmation that the solicitor had received it.
A bit of background - when you buy a house both parties' PPS number needs to be communicated to the Land Registry, which provides you with the official document stating that the house is yours.
AUG 17, 2015
We reply to the solicitor's email asking for my boyfriend's address (which we had already provided a couple of times) and we request, again, confirmation that the deposit has been received.
AUG, 20 2015
As we still hadn't received any communication that the solicitor received our deposit, we contact him once more for an update and he finally replies that "at this time of year it is quite difficult to move matters along quickly as a lot of solicitors take holidays as the courts are closed and it is therefore one of few opportunities to shut the office.".
We still don't have confirmation of the deposit.
AUG 26, 2015
The vendor called me directly, to let me know that they can't proceed to sign the contract because they are a missing document (Title of Deeds) which our solicitors was meant to provide them. After a couple of emails back and forth, our solicitors finally confirmed that he sent that document.
AUG 28, 2015
The solicitor received the contract from the vendor and he asked us to pay the balance of funds to his client account (to note, we never received confirmation that he received the deposit, but, at this point, we can assume he did).
AUG 31, 2015
We confirmed that we've transferred the balance of funds to the solicitor's client account, asking for a confirmation for when it's received.
SEP 3, 2015
We received confirmation that the money had cleared the vendor's account, and that our solicitor was checking the original title documents received. Now we just needed to wait for the keys.
That same day we received and paid the Bill of Costs from the solicitor (his fee is €1950 VAT included), which we had to ask him to correct because it originally included non relevant information.
SEP 8, 2015
Sep 4, 2015 the solicitor mentioned that we needed to take care of outstanding documents the next week. After not hearing from him on Monday, we contacted him on Tuesday 8th to find out which documents we needed to complete.
He replied that he would post the documents we needed to sign (with secure and priority mail) and that "the application for the PPS number should be completed in the next week so that when you return the deed I will be in a position to complete registration."
We also received confirmation that he had received the payment for his fees.
SEP 12, 2015
We still hadn't received the documents, so we emailed him. No reply.
SEP 16, 2015
As we still hadn't received the documents, we contacted the solicitor. He hadn't sent them yet and he promised he would do so that same day.
SEP 22, 2015
We contact again the solicitor because we haven't received the documents yet. He replies that he's keeping an eye on their delivery through a tracking number.
SEP 23, 2015
We let the solicitor know that if we don't receive the documents by Friday, Sep 25, 2015, we prefer to meet in person to sign them on Sep 28, 2015, as 20 days seem to be a sufficient time to receive a priority delivery from Lucan to Dublin city center.
The solicitor replies that same day, letting us know that the "post tried to deliver the parcel but could not establish that you were at the address so the parcel is being returned to me". This is very odd, as I asked that the documents be delivered at my office and I never took a sick day or paid leave during that time.
We agree to meet on Monday Sep 28 to sign the documents.
SEP 28, 2015
The outstanding documents are signed, and the solicitor informs us that it would take approximately 4 weeks to have the Land Registry documents.
NOV 27, 2015
We contact the solicitor for an update on the Land Registry documents, and he replies that "your registration has not completed as yet. I am attending the Land Registry next week to check a number of applications that I have lodged and will update you once I have been."
JAN 6, 2016
As the solicitor didn't contact us in December (although he had said that he would attend the Land Registry the first week of December), we send an email requesting an update.
JAN 12, 2016
Still no update on the Land Registry documents, so we sent another email asking for information.
JAN 13, 2016
We try to contact the solicitor again and he replies that he was out of the office the whole week and that he'll update us tomorrow.
JAN 14, 2016
We call the solicitor for the promised update and he lets us know that the Land Registry registration was not successful because the vendor's solicitor didn't include a date in their documentation. He reassures us that he'll have this fixed, resubmit the documentation to the Land Registry and have the final paperwork in 6 weeks.
MAR 10, 2016
We email the solicitor asking for an update, since it's been more than 6 weeks since he was meant to resubmit the documentation to the Land Registry. No reply.
MAR 20, 2016
I write my first angry email to the solicitor:
"During your role as our solicitor, contacting you and receiving updates from you has been extremely difficult and frustrating: callbacks are not to be expected and no unprompted updates - case in point, you have not replied to this email prompt for 10 days, and it's been 10 weeks since my phone call to you, in which I discovered that our registration had not been successful after months of waiting. "
The solicitor finally replied that same day to the angry email, letting us know that he would contact the Land Registry and let us know if registration is near completion or not.
APR 1, 2016
As we have not received any updates since the 20th of March, we emailed the solicitor requesting an explanation as to what was going on with the Land Registry document. He replied letting us know that he'll contact us by phone later that day. We received no phone call.
APR 3, 2016
The solicitor replied by email letting us know to call him on Monday, after an email prompt from my boyfriend.
APR 4, 2016
After a couple of calls ended up in voice mail, I finally talk with the solicitor and he promises an update on our documentation.
APR 12, 2016
After another email prompt, we finally receive an explanation to explain the delays with completing our Land Registry documentation: the issue is with my boyfriends PPS number, and the solicitor needs to call the Department of Social Protection to 'activate' it.
APR 13, 2016
We emailed to received an update and was promised a call back. No call back.
APR 15, 2016
We sent an email clearly stating that we want answers to the following.
1 - What is the current situation of our documents
2 - What is the cause of this delay in regards to my boyfriend's PPS number
3 - What actions the solicitor plans to take, and how long will it be before we can conclude this ordeal.
The solicitor tells me that he tried to contact me, but my phone wouldn't ring ( O_o ), so I finally manage to reach him at his mobile and he lets me know that he couldn't work on our issue because of family problems. The reason for the delay is because my boyfriend's PPS number hasn't been issued correct and he is going to request that it be issued again.
APR 20, 2016
We requested an update by email. No reply.
APR 26, 2016
I reached him on his mobile, and he lets us know that he's still waiting for the Department of Social Protection to call him back, but he should hear from them that day or the next.
APR 27, 2016
I call him again on his mobile, and he suggests that my boyfriend personally retrieves the PPS number. After all these months and all the times we confirmed my boyfriend's address, the solicitor still hasn't understood that my boyfriend doesn't live in Ireland currently.
He assures me that he'll have the PPS number delivered to him, by the end of the week.
MAY 4, 2016
I email the solicitor to check if he indeed received the PPS number by the end of the previous week. No reply.
MAY 5, 2016
We receive a reply from the solicitor: "I have responded to the department and let them know that your boyfriend is not living in Ireland. I have not heard anything back from them. I will contact them this morning to make sure everything has been done.
Can you let me have an address for him just in case they ask for it.".
Again, we provide the address.
MAY 27, 2016
We ask for an update regarding the PPS number, and we finally receive a phone call letting us know that he received it. We agree that he would send us, by email, written confirmation of the PPS number and of the receipt for filling this information with the Land Registry (he explicitly mentioned that the next Monday he would personally go to the Land Registry)
JUN 3, 2016
We reach out again by email regarding the two receipts (PPS number and Land Registry submission) which we agreed the solicitor would send us. No reply.
JUN 7, 2016
We ask again for the two receipts. I receive a text message that he would ask someone from his office to send them to us, as he's already on vacation.
JUN 29, 2016
I send my second angry email:
(1) - Several months of poor communication, which ended up with a very clear phone call, where we agreed on the level of professional service we expect
(2) - Several promises that we would receive a written confirmation and receipt of the PPS number and the form lodged with the Land Registry
(3) - A written confirmation on June 7th by text message that you would have someone from your firm send the above mentioned documents (because you forgot to keep your promises before going on vacation).
Now let me outline the result: after 3 WEEKS from your last text message we have NOTHING. "
JUL 6, 2016
We finally receive a reply by email from the solicitor "Unfortunately I am only just back in the office due to a number of factors including ill health, I will get the documentation previously requested e mailed to you asap."
JUL 8, 2016
As we still have not received any documentation, I send my third angry email, threatening to contact the Law Society of Ireland for a compensation of the fees we paid him, since he hasn't absolved his duties.
Guess what was the result? No reply.
JULY 14, 2016
I finally had a meeting with the solicitor! He addressed all of our requests, providing us with all the original documents in his care, with a promise that he'll issue a 20% refund on his fee and that in approximately 10 days we'll receive the final Land Registry documents.
JULY 26, 2016
We still have not received the 20% refund, a written confirmation of the PPS number and the final Land Registry documents. I emailed the solicitor for an update, and we receive a reply that same day: he will check if he sent the refund correctly and contact the relevant bodies for the other matters.
AUGUST 2, 2016
Still no refund or updates - I send an email to remind the solicitor of this.
AUGUST 5, 2016
We request a meeting for the next Monday both by email and by text.
The solicitor replies that he sent the refund "again" that same day, that he spoke with the Social Welfare department the day before and he'll have the PPS number receipt by midweek and that he'll be at the Land Registry on Wednesday (August 10, 2016).
We resolve to wait until the middle of next week.
AUGUST 10, 2016
The solicitor contacts us to ask for confirmation if we have received the refund (which we confirm by email) and let's us know that "The department have asked to formally write to them requesting a receipt for the PPS and I am doing that today.".
Also, he's going to the Land Registry the next day (August 11, 2016) and he'll update us afterwards.
AUGUST 12, 2016
We ask for an update and to schedule a meeting.
AUGUST 16, 2016
The solicitor replies that he's on ANNUAL LEAVE, and that "The property is being mapped which will take a couple of weeks but I will call to the land registry when back from holidays next week just to keep the pressure on.". He agrees on the meeting and we reply asking to schedule it for Tuesday 23rd.
However, that same day we go to the local Intreo office to request a PPS card and we find out that the PPS number the solicitor game us DOES NOT EXIST, nor is my boyfriend's name, date of birth or address ANYWHERE IN THE SYSTEM.
At this point, we are at the end of our patience, and we sent the solicitor a very angry email and leave him three likewise angry phone messages on his personal cell.
After a couple of hours he calls us back, apologising for the mistakes and letting us know that this will be his priority to solve on Monday 22nd (when he's back from his vacation).
AUGUST 17, 2016
We call the office of Client Identity Services, Department of Social, Community and Family Affairs, Gandon House (which is where the solicitor send the request for my boyfriend's PPS number) to see if we can find further information on the actions the solicitor took.
Unfortunately, we just get confirmation that he is not present anywhere in the system and that PPS number is incorrect. They advise us to wait for the solicitor, as to clarify which actions he took (trying to register a PPS number on own at this point might cause more issues, as the process the solicitor started might still be valid).
We have on meeting set with him for Tuesday 23rd, August, so we'll see how that goes.
AUGUST 30, 2016
The solicitor sent us confirmation that he obtained the correct PPS number from the Social Welfare Service Office.... but in the confirmation letter, they SPELLED MY BOYFRIEND'S NAME INCORRECTLY.
That same day I asked the solicitor to correct this, and he promised that he'd get back to us: "I will contact client identity services to correct the spelling however this will not impact on the validity of the PPS number.".
SEPTEMBER 3 , 2016
We receive a letter from the solicitor, confirming that my boyfriend's name had been updated with the Department of Social Protection's Client Identity Services. It asked him to call Revenue to activate the PPS number.
SEPTEMBER 5, 2016
My boyfriend called Revenue to activate his PPS number - they confirmed that it was active.
SEPTEMBER 6 , 2016
The solicitor called to ask if my boyfriend had activated the PPS number, which I confirmed. He mentioned that he would go the next day to the Land Registry and promised to update us on those documents.
I also asked when we should pay the property tax, as the information online was incorrect: I was as listed as 'unemployed / disabled' online, when I'm neither.
Emailed for an updated on Land Registry documents + information on the property tax.
SEPTEMBER 15, 2016
Solicitor replied that he doesn't have any updates on the Land Registry documents but that there were no queries outstanding. He'll check on them on Sept 16 or Sept 19. He did let me know that the information for the property tax had been corrected.
SEPTEMBER 28, 2016
Emailed asking for an update on Land Registry Documents.
The solicitor informed us that my boyfriend's PPS number HAD NOTE BEEN ACTIVATED by him (by calling the Revenue) and that they were not aware of his home address in Italy. This regardless of the fact that we've forwarded SEVERAL times my boyfriend's information to the solicitor, and he personally called the Revenue to activate the number on August 30, 2016 (which the Revenue confirmed had been done successfully).
The last line from the solicitor's email was: "I will contact you over the next 10 days to update you".
OCTOBER 6, 2016
Still no update on the Land Registry documents, but we receive a letter from the solicitor including the updated Stamp Duty certificate, with my boyfriend's name on it (finally, we have confirmation that his PPS number has been activated correctly).