Council mistake on price of flat leads to legal proceedings against homeowner

05/03/2019

A London homeowner has recently been told to pay more than £350,000 to the Council or face losing his home. The Council mistakenly valued the flat he purchased as a one bed rather than a two bed flat. But who is to blame?

Mr Zomparelli bought his two bed flat from Islington Borough Council for £340,000 in 2014 under the Right to Buy scheme which allows council tenants to purchase their homes.

However, two years later the Council wrote to Mr Zomparelli admitting they accidentally undercharged him. The reason for this was that the Council carried out a “desktop” valuation of the flat which valued the flat at a one bed price. The full price for a two bed flat should have been £700,000 and Mr Zomparelli has now been told to pay the difference.

The Council is now threatening to issue legal proceedings to recover the shortfall. The justification given by the Council is that where a public body acts outside of their jurisdiction, their decision is void. The Council allege that Mr Zomparelli has been unjustly enriched by the mistake and that they have an obligation to recover this money.

However, Mr Zomparelli is fighting the claim, saying it was their mistake and he would not have bought the flat if he had known. He now faces a costly legal battle and is in a lose-lose situation. The fees alone will probably force him to sell and he cannot pay the difference in purchase price.

​​More information

However, Oliver James-Topping of our Property Litigation Team says that undoing a property sale is notoriously difficult. “It will be interesting to see how the Council can actually win this one.​” We will be monitoring this case to see if they are able to convince the Court that their mistake should be paid for by Mr Zomparelli.”
Pinney Talfourd has an experienced team of solicitors who deal with property disputes. Contact our Residential Property Litigation team for information on any property related dispute that you may have with the Council or any other authority.​This article was written by Oliver-James Topping, Solicitor​ at Pinney Talfourd LLP Solicitors. The contents of this article are for the purposes of general awareness only. They do not purport to constitute legal or professional advice. Specific legal advice should be taken on each individual matter. This article is based on the law as of March 2019.

05/03/2019

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