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Toronto man shocked when he loses $44,000 deposit on U.K. property

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Buying a property is a big decision with lots of paperwork and legal documents and the process can be more complicated if you're buying something outside of Canada.

“They had this property which appeared to be a very good opportunity," said Mazher Jaffery, who runs the coffee shop Café on the Hill in Toronto.

Jaffery was born in England and has two brothers living there and he wanted to buy an apartment in London to spend more time with them.

In May of 2022, Jaffery was on an online auction website when he saw a fourth floor one-bedroom flat for sale. He bid on the flat and had the winning bid of £260,000 ($421,059).

Jaffery was asked to send a deposit of £27,200 ($44,049).

When you buy property in the U.K., you may also have to pay extra for a land lease. This a legal agreement with the landlord (sometimes known as the freeholder) and the lease tells you how many years you will own the property.

When Jaffery bid on the flat, he thought the land lease costs would be £140,000 ($226,724) but in fact it still had to be negotiated and could have been as high as £450,000 ($728,757).

An apartment in London, England which Toronto man Mazher Jaffery tried to buy is seen here. (Supplied)

Jaffery decided he no longer wanted to buy the property and tried to get his deposit back.

“It was no longer a deal,” said Jaffery.

When Jaffery went to his bank to try and reverse the money transfer, it had already been sent and the deposit was non-refundable.

CTV News Toronto contacted Auction House London, which hosted the auction, and the Director of the company Andrew Binstock said what happened was unfortunate, but that buying property in the U.K. --where land leases are involved -- can be a complicated process.

“Buying a short leasehold flat in the U.K. is for experts only. You shouldn’t really entertain this unless you know exactly what your doing," said Binstock.

Binstock added that Auction House London is one of the largest online auction houses for property sales in the U.K. and said they did more than 1,200 successful online auctions last year.

Binstock said anyone considering buying a property in the UK must do their due diligence and read all the legal documents related to the purchase which will show all additional costs.

“Please, please, please if you're ever thinking of buying a property in the U.K. please read the legal pack. It is utterly critical to read the legal pack. With a property purchase in the U.K. you must put down 10 per cent and that’s non refundable,” said Binstock.

Binstock added “we don’t enjoy seeing anyone lose their deposits.”

Jaffery said losing his deposit of $44,049 has been difficult and he is hopeful one day he'll own a place in England to be close to his family.

"Obviously this is something that's causing me a fair bit of grief," said Jaffery.

Jaffrey filed a complaint with the Ombudsman for Banking Services and Investments, but it said his bank was not responsible for the loss because they followed his instructions and took reasonable steps to try and recall the money transfer.  

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