Comment by: Bob Eld
Focus area: Pubs
Regulator concerned: Health and Safety Executive (HSE),Office of Fair Trading
A number of local people have got together to buy our village pub at auction.
on the fall of the hammer we were expected to arrange insurance but were not allowed to have keys to the property until completion in 28 days. in contrast the vendor retained access during that period. as a result of the interest shown by the media in our venture we were invited to the property to be interviewed. the auctioneer arranged access. On entry we found that a large quantity of the fixtures & fittings had been removed in contravention of the particulars given in the auction catalogue. My first issue is that it cannot be right that the vendor has free access during the completion period. the keys should remain with the auctioneer until completion. I think we would have found it very difficult to get any redress once we had paid the money.
The items that were removed included 3 air conditioning units ( the pipes were cut and the gas released to the atmosphere), the gas boiler,a gas cut off valve for the cookers (both of which had been cut out of the gas line leaving the supply pipes uncapped and a number of wall lights ( where the live wires were left exposed. I contacted Environmental Health, Trading Standards, The Environment Agency & HSE. None would consider taking any action despite the fact that I had a letter from the vendors admitting to what they had done. The vendors were obliged to return some of the missing items in order to be able to complete. These complications increased our conveyancing costs quite substantially. The potential for serious injury or even death is obvious.