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Paula, Home Seller in Yonkers, NY

Our attorney is holding $20,000 in escrow after we closed back in 2005. How can we get our money back?

Asked by Paula, Yonkers, NY Thu Nov 13, 2008

My parents sold their multifamily house back in 2005. At closing, $20,000 was held in escrow to assure that the property's backyard parking lot was by code. Long story short. It's been three years now and nothing has been done. Our lawyer says that the town is taking forever to come down and inspect the property but a few months ago we found out that they only put the request in with the town. I have called to get our money back and we get the run around every time. There is always an excuse or they just don't return our calls. What can we do legally? We live in NY.

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I would get a letter from the city saying they did there inspection. After it is done. Send a certified letter with a copy of the certificate from the city saying it is done. Call a couple days later and see if you can get something. If still no answers, than its time for you to go get your own attorney. The attorney probably has not spent the money. It is in a trust somewhere. He just needs clear documentation before he releases it. I know the years has rolled by and sometimes they do.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Fri Nov 14, 2008
You need to review your contract agreeing to put this money into escrow. It should have a date that it needs to be done by. it should not be open ended with no expiration date. you need to send a certified letter that you will be filing a claim with the state bar assocaition if you do not get it back within 7 days, then if you dont file a claim with the state bar association. defiantely check tthe agreement and try calling the lawyer who wrote it tio see if there is an expiration such as buyer most do this within this perior of time with time being of the essence.
Web Reference: http://www.ScottSellsNH.com
0 votes Thank Flag Link Fri Nov 14, 2008
If you decide you need/want to make a complaint, Don't bother with the Bar Association, they usually aren't the best route to take, although they do sometimes have a talk with the lawyer and can sometimes get them kick-started (if you do ask them to intervene--make sure they know they're on a deadline. This is the site for Disciplinary Counsel, they WILL investigate and follow through:

http://www.nycourts.gov/ip/attorneygrievance/complaints_atto…
0 votes Thank Flag Link Fri Nov 14, 2008
The next time you call your attorney, tell them you will be filing a complaint with the State Bar on ____ date if you do not have a satisfactory answer on _____ date.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Fri Nov 14, 2008
Contact your State http://www.nysba.org
0 votes Thank Flag Link Fri Nov 14, 2008
Simply put.......

Someone is not doing their job........in this case it appears that many people are not doing their jobs.

New Your State.....contact your state assembly representative and ask for their help. It's amazing what can be accomplished with a phone call and a conversation with an aide.

Step number 2, would be to contact the NYS Attorney General's Office.

Good luck
0 votes Thank Flag Link Fri Nov 14, 2008
Ok, I 've calmed down. Does the contract say who was responsible to get the compliance? If it was the attorney, then I'd do what I said I'd do. If it was someone else, than I would do as was previously posted and be "proactive", that is get the clearance or affirmation myself. Then I would send a copy of the clearance/affirmation to the attorney with the demand letter.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Thu Nov 13, 2008
And if it was me, I would send the letter by certified mail and if it was refused I would send it again by cetificate of mailing and i would keep copies.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Thu Nov 13, 2008
WELL. if the contract stated to show that the parking lot is per code, that needs to be done. who is responsible for the request? i would be proactive and assist the town in inspecting this issue.
Web Reference: http://www.creccorealty.com
0 votes Thank Flag Link Thu Nov 13, 2008
Three years? Three years? Attorneys are answerable to the state entity that licensed them. I cannot give you legal advice, but if I was in this situation, I would send them a demand letter for return of the money by a date certain and if the money was not returned by then, I would make a complaint to the local bar association or directly to the entity that licensed them (usually the state's highest court). Call the bar association and ask how you make a complaint.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Thu Nov 13, 2008
I am sorry to hear about your situation, I can understand how frustrating it must be. Realtors cannot give you legal advice, so there is not much I can help you with. However, based on the limited information you provided something is wrong. I suggest you have a very firm conversation with your attorney. He/she should have been more on the ball about making sure the buyer had the parking lot inspected in a timely fashion.

You may need to retain another attorney to help you if your attorney is unresponsive. Attorneys' are required to handle escrow funds pursuant to very detailed regulations, and unfortunately I have seen cases where this does not happen. An independent legal review may be necessary.

Best of luck!

Peter A Harris
Licensed Associate Broker
Houlihan Lawrence
0 votes Thank Flag Link Thu Nov 13, 2008
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