Leeds nurse calls for law change after being left without a home when seller backed out last minute
An intensive care nurse is calling for a change to property laws in England after being left without a home when a seller pulled out last minute.
Kirsty Mcenroe, 48, from Calverley, was in the process of buying a new home for herself and her son Jake, 13, after separating from her partner.
She found a house around the corner from the family home and says she was told by the sellers that they were looking for a quick sale as the house had been empty for a year.
Subsequently, Kirsty, an intensive care nurse at St James' Hospital, accepted a reduced offer on her family home.
However, Kirsty was left shocked and devastated, when the seller backed out of the deal, just ten days away from competition.
Miss Mcenroe said: "When we knew we had to move house my son Liam was devastated as he didn't want to move away from Calverley where all his friends are.
"Luckily, we found a house nearby that needed a lot of work doing but it was all I could afford and I was prepared to work on it until it was liveable.
"The house has been empty for a year as the owner is in sheltered accommodation, so I had confidence that there was no way the seller would pull out - but he has.
"I'm a nurse and do shift work so I'd started boxing things up in advance so that when we did move we wouldn't have to do it all in just a few days.
"With less than 10 days to complete, I received a phone call to say the seller had decided not to sell and with my home all packed up in boxes, and clothes in suitcases, you can imagine I was devastated."
Miss Mcenroe said although the financial impact was tough to take, the emotional cost has been much harder.
She said: "I'm buying on my own so I've worked extra shifts and worked weekends when I'd normally have my son, so I've missed out on all that time with him because I've been working extra to save some money so I could afford the house.
"I got rid of the sofas, I got rid of our wardrobes as they were too tall for the house and we bought a new cooker and dishwasher that are now just sat in the kitchen.
"I've lost £2,000 in financial costs with solicitors fees, valuation fees and surveyors reports, but it's the emotional cost that has been so hard. "
She said: "We'd been around so many times, decided what work we'd do, what bits of the house we'd keep, planning for ripping carpets up - that sort of thing.
"My son is heartbroken, he'd designed what colour we'd paint his room.
"Now I have to drive past the house every day on the way to and from work.
"It's just heartbreaking."
Miss Mcenroe has now started a petition calling on the laws to change and for legal documents to be introduced to ensure people commit to selling, or to pay back the money the buyer has lost in the process if they pull out.
In England, both sellers and buyers are within their legal rights to pull out of a purchase at any time before the exchange of contracts.
A reason does not have to be given.
Reasons sellers may withdraw before exchange of contracts include; keeping hold of the asset during a period of price growth, waiting to sell due to other market conditions and policies or another buyer putting in a higher bid.
The latter is called "Gazumping" which is when the original buyer is outbid by another interested buyer, despite their original offer being accepted by the seller.
The buyer does not have any rights to claim the property as their own before contracts are exchanged
People can ask the seller to contribute towards any costs such as legal fees incurred during the process but the seller is not under any obligation to do this.
This differs in Scotland, where a seller’s solicitor should not accept instructions from the seller to accept an offer from another party unless and until negotiations with the original offer or have fallen through for bona fide reasons unconnected with the possible offer from another party.
Miss Mcenroe said: "I thought what happened to us must be a rare thing but it happens a lot.
"Since starting the petition, so many people have messaged me with their stories and one woman told me it happened to her on the day she was moving.
"I made the petition because laws need to change as it is just so wrong and should not be able to happen.
"We're in a limbo now, as I don't want to disappoint the lovely couple who are buying my house, because they've fallen in love with the place.
"I have a conscience and it wouldn't be fair to them to pull out.
"I'm still searching for a place to live, but with the market in Leeds at the moment prices have shot up and everything is selling faster than I can get a viewing.
"I just want to make sure as many people as possible aware that this could happen".
If you would like to sign the petition, it can be viewed on Charge.org.