Your legal questions answered by Fahmida Ismail, Partner at Sydney Mitchell LLP. As featured in Worcester News, 30th December 2014.

Q. My uncle died three years ago without making a will. We are still waiting to hear from the solicitor dealing with his estate, who barely acknowledges our letters and ‘phone calls. What can we do to move things along?

A. If your uncle died without leaving a will one of your relatives must have applied for letters of administration to administer his estate. This relative is the person to whom you should direct your enquiries, since he or she engaged the solicitor; if you weren’t this person then the solicitor isn’t answerable to you. The relative should make an urgent appointment with the solicitor to discuss progress or the lack of it; if there’s no explanation for the delay the relative could sack the solicitor and engage someone else.

 

Q. I own a commercial property. I have renewed my lease but the landlord is trying to charge me nearly £10,000 as a “back-dated rent payment” because there was no rent review over the previous nine years. Can they do this?

A. It depends what your lease says, how the renewal took place and when the rent review was due. Rent review clauses are often drafted with few restrictions on the landlord. Other leases state that a rent review must take place by a certain date or not at all. Normally (without seeing the lease) if the rent review cannot be agreed there is a clause whereby an independent expert is appointed to agree the new rent. You can utilise the independent expert provisions to challenge the claimed rental value of the property. But you need detailed advice from a solicitor.

 

Q. A year ago I paid a builder £3,100 to do some work on my house. He hurt his back and never finished the job. He says he will get someone in to complete the work, but these seem to be empty promises. I have a copy of the contract we agreed and a receipt for the money.

A. Give the builder written notice to complete the work within a reasonable period, say one month. If he fails to do so you should ask him for some of your money back ­– the amount necessary to finish the job. You are entitled to expect the work to be completed in a “reasonable” time: a year is too long. You could sue the builder in the small claims court, but it would be more satisfactory to reach an agreement.

 

For further information on any of the issues raised, please contact Fahmida Ismail on 0121 698 2200 or fill in our online enquiry form.

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