Thousands of house-buyers using a conveyancing company have been left in limbo due to a cyber-security breach.
Premier Property Lawyers (PPL), based in Enderby, Leicestershire, said a “security incident” had rendered some of its systems inoperable, causing property transactions to be stalled.
Customers have expressed dissatisfaction with the lack of communication and the difficulty in contacting the company.
PPL stated that it was working with cyber experts to restore its IT systems.
Jason Greenwood, a DJ from Redcar, north Yorkshire, said he had already packed his belongings into a van and was waiting for it to be completed when he learned of the problems at PPL.
He said he first suspected there was a problem when he couldn’t access the PPL website on Monday night.
“At 08:00 on Tuesday, the removal van arrived, and we loaded everything into the van, but we couldn’t reach PPL at all,” he explained.
“When they responded to my complaint on Twitter, they stated that they have no timetable for moving forward.”
“All of my belongings, clothing, and everything in the house are in the back of a van, and I’m still paying the removal company because their van is still tied up and time is ticking.”
Mr Greenwood, 42, stated that he and his seven-year-old daughter were currently sleeping at his parents’ home.
“It’s very stressful. “I recently had major surgery to remove a tumour, and on top of that, I’m not sleeping or eating because of the stress,” he explained.
Yet another client Michelle, from Coventry, said her husband Michael went to PPL’s Leicestershire office to see if he could get anything done.
“There was a sign saying there had been a major incident and ‘please do not log on to your computers until you hear from your manager,'” she told BBC Radio Leicester.
“That was obviously for the staff, but it was on the door as he walked in, and he spoke to the receptionist, who told him they’re working on it.”
Michelle explained that they were in a chain with four other people and planned to exchange on Monday before moving into their new home the following week.
She did, however, state that they had not received any communication from PPL.
“Moving is stressful enough as it is, but this added to it is just horrendous,” she said.
“We’re not going to sleep. We’re living in a house that’s packed and ready to go for next week, but we’re not sure if we’ll go.
“Because we got rid of her bed, my daughter has been sleeping on the floor. It’s nothing but a nightmare.”
Adam Graver, 24, and his wife Anna, 29, had recently returned from their honeymoon and were planning to move into their first home together on Monday.
“I tried to log on to the online portal on Monday and the website wasn’t working, which is how I found out about the problems,” he explained.
“We checked out of our hotel on Monday and had no plans for the rest of the day.
“We were fortunate to be able to move in with my in-laws, which has been extremely beneficial, but I’m thinking about those who do not have that option.”
Premier Property Lawyers, a subsidiary of My Home Move, stated that it had reported the security incident to the appropriate authorities and was “taking steps” to contact clients and partners.
“We are working with our third-party cyber specialists to restore systems, find ways to support our clients’ property transactions, and conduct a thorough investigation to gain a fuller understanding of the incident,” a spokesperson added.
The current problems stem from a temporary inability to access some of our IT systems, which has unfortunately prevented the completion of some transactions.
“We are working hard to find additional solutions and to provide all possible support to our clients and partners during this difficult time.”
According to a Wednesday update on the My Home Move website, IT systems had been restored and they had “worked through the night” to process the backlog of payments.
“We are working around the clock to restore our normal operations as soon as possible,” it said.
“This includes carefully bringing systems online as part of a secure phased approach, as well as finding workarounds to safely complete transactions.”
“We are not fully operational in all business areas, but we are actively resolving the problem and working around the clock to get there.”
The Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) stated that it was not aware of any breach involving the company.
“Organisations must notify the ICO within 72 hours of becoming aware of a personal data breach, unless it does not pose a risk to people’s rights and freedoms,” a spokesperson said.
“If an organisation decides that a breach does not require reporting, they should keep their own record of it and be able to explain why it was not reported if necessary.”