Melissa Kite

Real life | 16 February 2017

The floor plan doesn’t match the flat, and the Land Registry doesn’t do kinky, so the sale’s off

Real life | 16 February 2017
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Fine, so I got it completely wrong. It turns out the sale of my flat was not held up by a wiggle in the garden, but by a kink in the kitchen. This kink in the kitchen is far more serious than a wiggle in the garden. I should have realised that, the buyer’s solicitor has complained.

I don’t know why I got the idea that exchange of contracts had been delayed by a mistake in the plan for the garden, but I’m struggling to keep up. I’ve been deluged with complaints about absolutely everything I had thought was fine. From the crisp new electrical safety certificates to the diligently maintained boiler service history, nothing has been good enough.

I’m sure someone told me at some stage that the garden fence didn’t follow the right line, but it now transpires that no one is bothered by that at all. It’s the kink in the kitchen that’s causing merry hell.

Can I paint a picture for you? At the far end of my kitchen there is a small sloping cubby-hole above which are the upstairs neighbour’s steps down to his garden. It has been there for about 40 years but alas, it is not reflected on the floor plan.

This means that where the red pen line on the drawing at the Land Registry ought to make a little bobble, it goes straight across. The mistake, if that is what it is, measures about two millimetres on the plan.

In reality, the four foot by two foot corner is where I store a slimline dishwasher and half a washing machine (for this juts over the space).

I am baffled by the buyers’ aversion to this cubby-hole because even if I did steal it from the upstairs neighbour — bricking up a small square of his garden in the night in a clandestine attempt to create London’s smallest laundry room — it has now been there so long it cannot be reversed, except by a protracted legal battle the neighbour is unlikely to want to embark upon, I would have thought, especially since so many other flats in the street have done the same thing.

Still, the buyers requested we correct the drawing at the Land Registry to include the kitchen kink, or they wouldn’t exchange contracts. ‘Everything but the kitchen kink isn’t good enough,’ was basically their line. But when my lawyer contacted the Land Registry and submitted the new plan, with kink, they said no, absolutely not. The Land Registry simply does not do kinky.

The only option, therefore, was to obtain a deed of rectification signed by the neighbour upstairs, and both his and my mortgage lenders.

So I asked the neighbour upstairs and, not unsurprisingly, for he and I have a history of tormenting each other, he said he would have to instruct his lawyers to look into it. (And maybe I will have to instruct my lawyers to look into the water that still drips through my ceiling from his bathroom.)

Meanwhile, my solicitor continued to plough through letters of complaint from the buyers urging me to hurry up, and other such impossibilities. He rang me to inform me that one letter was so long he suspected it would take an entire day to make sense of it. So I told him to stop.

Enough was enough. I sent my agent an email pulling out of the sale and instructing them to put the flat back on the market.

But it will not be that simple, because the kitchen kink has been declared to all and sundry and must be dealt with to the bitter end. A legal monster has been born. It is ravenous and must be fed.

After consultation with experts, it turns out we may need a deed of rectification or we may need a deed of variation.

In any case, it is going to take many months of dancing on the head of a kink, making the lawyers rich beyond the dreams of avarice.

As I sat with my head in my hands the other night, the builder boyfriend suddenly erupted. ‘I’m going to knock the damn thing out,’ he declared, standing in the kitchen with hands on hips, like John Wayne about to draw a gun and shoot the offending laundry corner to smithereens.

‘Oh no!’ I said, feeling tears of despair welling in my eyes. It is never a good sign when the BB threatens to dismantle something.

‘Leave it to me. I can take this corner out and brick the wall up in a day.’

He’s right, of course. It’s going to be quicker to smash my flat to pieces to make it match the floor plan, rather than try to change a millimetre of ink at the Land Registry to make the floor plan match the flat.