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  • Buy-to-Let

    Seller's solicitor won't confirm identity

    Hi all

    I am in the process of purchasing a property and have come across a strange situation and would like some advice. 

    My solicitor has asked the seller's solicitors the following simple question:

    Please confirm that you have verified your client’s identity and they have the right to sell this property 

    They have declined to answer. Their response is as follows:

    We are aware of the confusion and concern that recent cases have created and also of the conflicting opinions and guidance that has been given or circulated in the legal press regarding establishing a seller’s identity, depending on whether a firm is acting for a buyer or a seller. We understand and appreciate, therefore, the reason for your enquiries but at the same time trust that you will reciprocate and appreciate why we have to be clear that we cannot answer these enquiries or give you any warranty or undertaking regarding the seller’s identity. Whilst we are happy to confirm that we have carried out what we consider to be the usual and reasonable checks on our client in the circumstances (accepting that we are not able to meet them face-to-face) and have no cause for any suspicion that our client(s) may not be the registered proprietor.

    Taking into account the guidance issued since the recent cases (by insurers and other commentators) and given that at least one of these cases is subject to review, we are not willing or able to give any warranty in this regard nor any undertaking and for the avoidance of any doubt you may not take this reply to infer such.


    Now I am a bit unsure on what to do. My solicitor has advised that whilst everything may be ok, I must make a decision if I wish to continue at my own risk without the reassurance. I.e. In the full knowledge that the people in the best position to confirm the identity of the sellers and confirming that they have a right of sale have refused to give that confirmation

    Has anyone ever come across something like this before? What would you do?

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    Check with LR; £2 I believe.


    Then Google the person

    If no joy then walk away.

    I doubt any new lender will advance funds unless the seller is identified.

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    As paul says, but £3.  5 minutes online.  However, as several landlords have found after leaving the deeds with their address as the property it's easy to set up a fake ID in the name of the owner, then mortgage or sell it.

    https://www.gov.uk/search-property-infor...d-registry

    Thank the seller's solicitor kindly but explain that therefore you are unable to proceed without a satisfactory response: In writing, copy, "owner" and selling agents. 

    I'd be happy as a purchaser to use the same ID checking list that UK government requires for "Right to Rent" check: 

    https://www.gov.uk/government/publicatio...user-guide

    For many years I've not agreed to rent a place out without seeing the ORIGINAL of passport or driving licence & payslips.  I'd require my solicitor or myself to see AT LEAST those, and copy them, before giving them £100k+++  

    It really is quite amazing how lax people can be when they come to the big transactions.

    Rant over

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    I have done an online check with Land Registry and everything matches the documents I have, so I just don't understand what the issue is here. Very good point about the solicitor seeing the original documents.

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    Land Registry does not confirm identity - it confirms the name of the owner.

    You then need to cross refference the name on Land Registry, with valid id (such as passport).
    This is what the sellers solicitor is refusing to do.

    They are refusing to do so, not because they dont have his passport on file but because the have not seen them face-to-face.

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    _________________________________________________________________________


    The above post is not financial advice, its often me rambling - passing time on a coffee break.
    If you are looking for the Best BTL Mortgage? Call the Specialist Team at Bespoke Finance.


    _________________________________________________________________________

    That's not quite what the seller's solicitor is refusing to do.

    They are refusing to confirm whether they have done that or not.

    Whilst we are happy to confirm that we have carried out what we consider to be the usual and reasonable checks on our client in the circumstances (accepting that we are not able to meet them face-to-face) and have no cause for any suspicion that our client(s) may not be the registered proprietor.

    That is what baffles me, if they have done it, why would they not simply confirm. It seems they don't want to take that liability but without any reason, it seems bonkers.

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    You know more than me - maybe my presumptions are wrong but.

    " happy to confirm that we have carried out what we consider to be the usual and reasonable checks "
    " accepting that we are not able to meet them face-to-face "

    I get form this that they have checked the identity - via a emailed copy of passport or whatever. They are happy with this at there end.
    Though they will not confirm to your solicitors because they have not met them face to face, signed documents in there presence, seen original id, etc..

    They should be able to satify these concerns if the seller goes visits them. The solicitor will then be able to confirm to yours.

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    _________________________________________________________________________


    The above post is not financial advice, its often me rambling - passing time on a coffee break.
    If you are looking for the Best BTL Mortgage? Call the Specialist Team at Bespoke Finance.


    _________________________________________________________________________

    Many years ago i was a director of a small lender using our own funds as first and second mortgages.We received a call some time after the biggest loan we had ever completed  from the borrowers solicitor informing us we now appear to have an unsecured loan.The loan was taken as joint borrowers by a son and his mother the mother being the sole owner of the security.It turned out the person that signed the legal charge was not the mother at all but a little old lady he borrowed off the street As the son was as our barrister put it "a man of straw " we sued the solicitor.After some years we eventually got our money back when the solicitors indemnity fund paid out at a minute to twelve.We heard later that the solicitor had subsequently gone out of business apparently because he was not willing or able to afford his renewal premium.Unless a solicitor is 100% sure of a persons identity who can blame them for not taking responsibility

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    Very true.

    I'm sure if I threaten to pull out of the sale unless the solicitor can confirm their identity, they will comply. It seems stupid not to.

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    Im not sure solicitor is bothered - if you complete or not. It wont make them confirm identity.

    The solicitor seems to be refusing to confirm identity as the seller has - not visted there offices, provided photo id and signed the documents in front of them (and witnessed).
    Your solicitor needs to ask the sellers solicitor to get them into the office, so they are satisfied with the identity and can confirm.

    Otherwise talk to the seller & get them to use a different solicitor who will do there job.

    Unless identity is confirmed - I would not proceed.
    Im sure that responce from the seller solicitor - would not satisfy lender requirements.
    It could be someone trying to sell a property that they do not own!

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    _________________________________________________________________________


    The above post is not financial advice, its often me rambling - passing time on a coffee break.
    If you are looking for the Best BTL Mortgage? Call the Specialist Team at Bespoke Finance.


    _________________________________________________________________________


    As I mentioned above, the issue here isn't that the seller hasn't confirmed their identity. That we don't know, it is the fact the seller's solicitor has simply declined to confirm it.

    I agree with your second paragraph. It seems too big of a gamble for something so small on their part, unless of course there was something dodgy going on.

    I agree the seller's solicitor may not be bothered, but i'm sure the seller will be, and yes like you say, will hopefully change solicitors.

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