Family’s horror as company’s IT outage causes house-buying chain to collapse

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Katrina Crowson, 38, her husband and one-year-old son say they will be without a place to live from Monday November 29 as a cyber security breach at Premier Property Lawyers (PPL) delayed the purchase of their dream house in Newark.  The family had already given notice on their current rental property, which is something PPL says it would not advise buyers to do unless they had alternative arrangements lined up.

Katrina and her partner had been set to complete the purchase on November 12, but, on Tuesday November 23, they were told that the sellers above her in the chain had pulled out due to the wait.

Speaking to Nottinghamshire Live, Katrina said: “We’re basically going to have nowhere to go – we have nothing.

“As it stands we have no money so we are really in a bad situation.

“What they did was break up our family, so close to Christmas. It should be a special time, our son is one. Last year he was a baby but this year round he understands Christmas trees and all of that.

“Dreams and plans of owning our own home have been taken away from us through no fault of our own.

“Okay we might find a hostel or a night shelter but it’s not a place for a child to spend their first conscious Christmas. Me and my son can apply for shelter through Women’s Aid but my husband’s not going to be allowed there – he will be sleeping in the car.”

Katrina, who is a social care worker, is just one example of the human cost of the IT issues at PPL, who are the in-house law firm of MyHomeMove.

Cases of prospective house-buyers suffering delays in their transactions have been reported across the country this month.

“There’s lots of people being left in total devastation just before Christmas,” continued Katrina.

“The company doesn’t take responsibility and neither do the companies who endorse them. There has not been a peep from PPL for over two weeks now.

“They don’t care. They’re dealing with people purchasing a house – one of the biggest things you can do in life – and they didn’t even give us advice.”

The mother also said that she felt as if she was being “strung along” by the letting agents, William H Brown.

She added: “It got to the point where we couldn’t get any information off of anybody over what was happening.”

William H Brown said it was offering advice to Ms Crowson and “urgently” finding alternative accommodation for the family.

A spokesperson said: “We’re very sympathetic to Ms Crowson, her family and all those affected by the IT outage at Premier Property Lawyers.

“Our William H Brown team is in regular contact with Ms Crowson to provide any assistance in finding a solution. This includes offering advice on her current tenancy (not with William H Brown) and urgently finding alternative accommodation.”

A spokesman for Premier Property Lawyers said: “We understand the uncertainty and disruption that our clients, and others in chains with our clients, like Ms Crowson, may have experienced over the past couple of weeks due the challenges faced by Premier Property Lawyers.

“We have been in frequent contact with the estate agents we work with and have let them know that following intensive, non-stop work, we have the majority of conveyancers back up and running on core systems, and have been actively working on cases, completing already exchanged transactions and exchanging contracts on files that are ready to exchange and complete.

“We appreciate how difficult it is when any chain fails, and unfortunately that is not uncommon for a variety of reasons. Despite Premier Property Lawyers and our client being ready and willing to exchange contracts earlier this week, issues higher up the chain meant that unfortunately the chain could not proceed to exchange.

“Accordingly, we would not recommend any buyer give notice on a rental property before exchanging contracts on their purchase unless they have alternative arrangements should there be a delay or one party in chain decides not to proceed to exchange contracts.

“We understand the team at William H Brown has been in close contact with Ms Crowson to find solutions, including actively looking for alternative properties and having their rental team on standby to assist where they can.”

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