I've got a bit of a complex case and would appreciate any advice / comments. Apologies as the background is a little long winded – (There is a brief summary at the end):
The property was owned by a lady who passed away in 2015 and the eldest of three daughters was appointed to administer the estate. The late mother was not very good with money and back in 1992 unbeknownst to the daughters, she had taken a secured loan with a charge on the property, of £12,300 from a company called London & Counties Mortgages (at 30.0% APR over 25 years!?), so was paying around £240 per month (with a total amount owing of around £72,000).
The payments were made each month via a bank paying in book supplied by the Lender, up until 2008 when the lender failed to send out a new book. The mother was not chased for payments and had no idea on how to keep making further payments and so didn't take any further action, having already paid approx. £46,000 in respect of the loan. As it turns out, the Lender was dissolved shortly after.
After she passed away in 2015, the daughters became aware of all of this, and are now unable to sell the property as the Charge from the Lender is still registered against the property. They're paying and increased rate of council tax, insurance etc. and are desperate to be rid of the property.
They sought legal advice and spent around £3000 on 'specialist solicitors' who tried to trace any creditors for whom the remaining moneys may now be owed but after 6 months, came up with next to nothing. I then made contact to discuss the long term empty status of the property and became aware of all of the above.
As the dissolution notice states, "Upon dissolution, all property rights vested in, or held in trust for, the company are deemed to be Bona Vacantia, and accordingly will belong to the crown." - So we then made an application to the Government’s Bona Vacantia Division (BVD) to repay the remainder of the charge, and their response having reviewed our application was that they were not going to chase the remainder of the debt and were happy to declare that there was "no beneficial asset arising from the charge registered on the title, and hence no Bona Vacantia interest vested in the Crown". and that they were "therefore not in a position to either object or consent to an application made to HM Land Reg for an order to remove the charge" and advised us to include a copy of their response in our application to Land Reg to remove the charge.
We then applied to the Land Reg and after many weeks of sending in various information and statutory declarations from all of the daughter etc. the Land Reg solicitors responded to say that they could not remove the charge, without a requisite DS1 form signed on or behalf of the BVD.
I am now awaiting a response from BVD but our fear is that they will not likely consent to this as detailed in their original response...
My question is then, where do we turn next?
- There is a Charge registered against the property and so the daughter cannot sell it.
- The Lender is dissolved and no resulting creditor can be found.
- The dissolution notice states the moneys should now become owed to the Crown / BVD.
- BVD declare no beneficial interest and won't consent or object to any Land Reg application to remove the charge.
- Land Reg will not remove the charge without a DS1 from BVD
- The daughters are happy to repay the charge but no creditor can be found, and Land Reg / BVD seem to be in deadlock...
Any ideas, suggestions or questions are very welcome!
Many thanks in advance,
Scott Tunnicliffe, Plymouth City Council
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