Sutton council delaying house purchases by six weeks or more due to staff sickness

Sutton Council carries out property searches when people move house to check that the property is not subject to any planning applications that could affect it.

Sutton Council carries out property searches when people move house to check that the property is not subject to any planning applications that could affect it.

First published in News
Last updated
Sutton Guardian: Photograph of the Author by , Chief Reporter

Homebuyers' moves are being delayed by upwards of six weeks by Sutton Council as it has failed to cover for staff sickness in a vital department.

Property experts warn the situation is causing people moving in the borough added stress and could end up costing them money - or even causing their moves to fall through.

Sutton Council carries out property searches when people move house to check that the property is not subject to any planning applications that could affect it.

Usually these searches take two weeks but, since the end of March, the process has been taking upwards of six weeks - leaving buyers in limbo while they wait to find when or if they can move.

Martin Humphries, director of Goodfellows estate agents, said his team, which works across Sutton and the surrounding areas, first became aware of the problem in April when some property searches had been delayed by a month.

Since then he has contacted the council about the issue and even Sutton MP Paul Burstow who said the issue is "very important" and vowed to write to council chief executive Niall Bolger.

But Mr Humphries said he has not heard anything from the council and fears the delays could cost customers dearly.

He said: "It's a real issue at the moment as the market is moving so quickly. The danger is that in the time a vendor is waiting they could see their neighbour's property go for more and decide they want more.

"It is a stressful time for people and this is adding to it. I'm not anti-council by any means, but this situation can't be allowed to continue."

Among those who has been affected is a woman, who asked not to be named, who is moving between two properties in the borough. The woman and her family had expected to move in May but have been told it will now be July.

She said: "The searches were applied for to facilitate a moving date by the end of May but because of this delay and the fact I have a June holiday booked the move will now not be until July. 

"Obviously this inconveniences not only my family but also the other two parties involved in the chain."

A leaked email seen by the Sutton Guardian said a team leader in the department has been off work for surgery and the remaining staff are working to clear the backlog.

Sutton Council has been approached for comment but has not yet provided one.

Comments (4)

Please log in to enable comment sorting

1:42pm Fri 23 May 14

LiberalsOut says...

Two of my work colleagues are ill this week but we spread the work out between us
The public sector has a lot to learn
Two of my work colleagues are ill this week but we spread the work out between us The public sector has a lot to learn LiberalsOut
  • Score: -3

9:47am Sat 24 May 14

Anon6666 says...

There is more to this than just staff sickness. This down to mismanagement by an interim manager who had ample warning and plenty of time to cover the sickness but failed to acknowledge the importance of the section and the impact on the service. A vacancy arose in the section at the end of November and he had the opportunity to re-employ a person who had 30 years land charges experience including 14 years for Sutton but because they had been previously made redundant and taken early retirement had a problem with re-employing them even though they were more than capable of carrying out the role. He then only took on temporary cover in February despite knowing in December that there was going to be an issue and obviously staff with no experience required training. It is this combined with staff sickness that has caused the backlog.
There is more to this than just staff sickness. This down to mismanagement by an interim manager who had ample warning and plenty of time to cover the sickness but failed to acknowledge the importance of the section and the impact on the service. A vacancy arose in the section at the end of November and he had the opportunity to re-employ a person who had 30 years land charges experience including 14 years for Sutton but because they had been previously made redundant and taken early retirement had a problem with re-employing them even though they were more than capable of carrying out the role. He then only took on temporary cover in February despite knowing in December that there was going to be an issue and obviously staff with no experience required training. It is this combined with staff sickness that has caused the backlog. Anon6666
  • Score: 13

3:01pm Wed 28 May 14

gofish123 says...

I have been informed today by a personal search agent that the council is booking the earliest appointments for personal searches in August. Is this true?
I have been informed today by a personal search agent that the council is booking the earliest appointments for personal searches in August. Is this true? gofish123
  • Score: 0

3:13pm Fri 13 Jun 14

whysaythat says...

Very surprised at this considering the amount of consultants that LB Sutton employ but try to keep quiet.
Very surprised at this considering the amount of consultants that LB Sutton employ but try to keep quiet. whysaythat
  • Score: 0

Comments are closed on this article.

Send us your news, pictures and videos

Most read stories

Local Info

Enter your postcode, town or place name

About cookies

We want you to enjoy your visit to our website. That's why we use cookies to enhance your experience. By staying on our website you agree to our use of cookies. Find out more about the cookies we use.

I agree