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Useful Definitions for Conveyancing

Useful Definitions with the Conveyancing Process

These definitions are intended to help you understand terms used when moving home. If you are unsure about any of the terms used, or about the legal process, please contact a member of the conveyancing team.

Additional Enquiries

Once your Conveyancer has received Contract Papers from the Seller’s Conveyancers they will review the Legal Title and any other information provided and raise any legal questions which they need the Seller to reply to, commonly referred to as ‘Additional Enquiries’.

Buildings Insurance

Following the exchange of contracts, buildings insurance is normally the buyer’s responsibility. Therefore as a buyer you must arrange for the property you are purchasing to be insured from exchange of contracts unless you are purchasing a Leasehold property in which case the Landlord normally insures. Your conveyancer will advise you accordingly.

Caveat Emptor

This is Latin for “buyer beware” and explains the principle that when buying a property it is at the buyers risk and they should carry out all enquiries and due diligence necessary including matters of a non-legal nature.

Chain

Many moves are connected by a series of transactions known as a ‘chain’. There may be several transactions involved in this chain and Harold G Walker will work as quickly as possible for your completion. However, the sale or purchase can only be finalised once all parties involved in the chain are ready to exchange contracts.

A property chain begins with a buyer not selling a property and ending with a seller not buying one. As property chains can vary in length, any transaction will only move as quickly as the slowest link. For this reason, Harold G Walker does not charge to expedite your instruction.

Chancel Repair Liability

 This refers to a legal obligation that dates back to medieval times, but is still very relevant today. It requires landowners to contribute to the cost of repairs to the chancel of an Anglican Parish Church. The parish is not always the immediate land around the church and so some properties can fall in to the parish of a church quite some miles away.

Completion Date

The date agreed prior to exchange of contracts between all parties. It is also the date on which the balance of the purchase price is paid. The seller must vacate the property leaving it in a reasonably clean and tidy condition by no later than 2.00pm on that day.

Contract Agreement

This is the legal document which sets out the terms of your sale/purchase and which will be signed by both the seller and the purchaser and which will commit both parties to the sale/purchase.

Contract Papers

These are the documents provide by the Sellers conveyancers to the Buyers conveyancers and include the Contract, Legal Title Documents, Property Information Form and Fittings & Contents Form completed by the Seller(s) and miscellaneous documents such as planning permissions, warranties, guaranties and certificates.

Conveyancer

A Conveyancer (or Solicitor/Lawyer) is the legal professional who will act for a buyer or seller in the Conveyancing process.

Conveyancing

This means the legal process of transferring property or land from one party to another.

Deposit

This is the sum paid by a buyer to the seller (via their Conveyancer) upon exchange of contracts. The deposit is normally 10% of the purchase price although a lesser deposit can sometimes be negotiated. If you are selling and buying at the same time the deposit on your property for sale will normally be used as the deposit for your purchase. The deposit is retained by the seller if the buyer fails to complete their purchase on the agreed completion date.

Disbursements

These are costs payable to third parties such as Stamp Duty Land Tax (SDLT), Land Registration Fees, Search Fees etc.

Drainage search

A search carried out with the water Authority confirming the route to the nearest mains drain to the property. This will show whether a mains sewer passes through or close to the property.

Easements/Rights

These are legal rights which are granted in favour of the property or over the property in favour of others, e.g. a right of way, rights of drainage etc.

Environmental Search

A search carried out in the locality of the property against environmental hazards such as flooding, pollution and previous land use.

Exchange of Contracts

Once all parties in the chain are ready, able and willing to proceed, the solicitor’s acting on behalf of the buyer and the seller will exchange contracts. The completion date is then set and from that moment onwards all parties are bound by the contract. The sale is now legally binding. 

Fittings and Contents Form

A form completed by the seller(s) to indicate which items they will be leaving or removing from the property on completion.

Freehold

A tenure (type of ownership) of property and the highest form of ownership recognised by English Law. Freehold lasts for an unlimited time and means that you will own the property and the land it sits on.

Freeholder

The owner of a Freehold Property.

Gifted Deposit

This is a where a third party contributes to the purchase price (typically a family member). Your conveyancer will need to carry out further checks and obtain consent to the gifted deposit from any mortgage lender.

Ground Rent

This is an annual amount paid to the Landlord to rent the property from the Landlord and the amount payable will be set out in the terms of the Lease.

Indemnity Insurance

An insurance policy which sometimes needs to be put in place where there is a legal defect with a property to insure against the defect affecting the property value.

Landlord

A party who owns land or property and is paid by others for the use of this. If you are a Leaseholder you will pay your Landlord a Ground Rent for the use of the land/property.

Land Registry

A Government organisation which registers the ownership of land/property in England and Wales. Your purchase will be registered with Land Registry after completion.

Lease

A Lease is the contract (document) which sets out the terms on which one party rents a property/land from another party. If you purchase a Leasehold property such as a flat you will have a Lease of the flat.

Leasehold

A tenure (type of ownership) which lasts for a definitive time i.e. a set term of years. If you purchase a Leasehold property you will lease the property from a Landlord for a defined period of time.

Legal Title

Evidence of legal ownership of land/property usually set out in Official Copy Title documents held with Land Registry or in Title Deeds if the land/property is unregistered.

Local Search

A search carried out at the local authority relating only to the property. Providing details of relevant information held by the local council including; planning and building regulatory history, road status and proposals for roads around the property, plus other matters of importance.

Management Company

A company which deals with the management of an estate/development where the property is located. This is more common with Leasehold property but may also apply to a Freehold property too. You will generally pay Service Charges to the company and may also need to become a shareholder or member depending on the set up of the company.

Mortgage Deed

The document which you sign to legally commit to your mortgage and make the repayments to the mortgage lender. The mortgage deed is registered at Land Registry against the Legal Title to the property.

Mortgage Offer

A formal written offer provided by a lender to a buyer. Having carried out a number of checks relating to a buyer’s financial circumstances and a survey of the property.

Property Information Form

A form completed by the seller to provide information about the property such as boundary responsibility, disputes, alterations, services, etc.

Report on Title

A report prepared by the Conveyancer once they have received the Contract Papers and the search results to explain the legal aspects of a buyer’s purchase.

Restrictive Covenant

An obligation or restriction set out in the Legal Title which must be observed by the property owner i.e. preventing alterations, keeping animals, carrying out trade or business etc.

Service Charge

Sums payable to a Landlord, Management Company or other appropriate third party for the provision of services to a property, i.e. repairs, maintenance, insurance etc. This is more common in relation to Leasehold property.

Source of Funds

Refers to evidence to be supplied to your Conveyancer as to how you are financing your purchase, i.e. bank or building society statements. This evidence is required in order for the Conveyancer to comply with the Government’s Anti-Money Laundering Regulations.

Stamp Duty Land Tax (SDLT)

This is a self-assessed tax on YOU (i.e. the purchaser) NOT the property, although certain factors such as the purchase price and tenure are also taken into account in calculating the amount of SDLT. It is chargeable on land transactions by any person or company to HMRC. Your SDLT Return must be treated as seriously as your Income Tax or Value Added Tax Return. Whereas other Tax Returns are completed at the end of each tax year, you have to complete an SDLT Return and pay the SDLT within 14 days of what is known as the ‘effective date’ of the land transaction (usually the Completion Date).

Survey

A surveyor acting on behalf of the buyer or buyer’s lender, will normally visit the property by arrangement through your estate agents to carry out a survey. A buyer may have any of three types of survey carried out by their lender’s surveyor:

  1. Valuation – a basic inspection carried out on behalf of your lender. This will confirm whether the surveyor believes the property provides adequate value for the proposed mortgage. This valuation offers very little information and will not provide protection to the buyer.
  2. Homebuyers Report the visiting surveyor will spend 3-4 hours checking the structure and condition of the property. This will provide a more detailed report and will highlight any concerns.

  3.  Full structural Survey – this will normally be carried out where either there is a major structural problem with the property or where the Homebuyers Report has raised questions about the structure of the property. This can take up to 8-hours and is a very detailed report.

Telegraphic Transfer

A way of sending money through the bank’s electronic system. The money is received on the same day as it was sent to the recipient’s bank.

Transfer Deed (Also referred to as TR1 or TP1)

This is the legal document which transfers property from one person to another and is filed at Land Registry to evidence the change of ownership.

Why choose Harold G Walker?
  • HGW do not pay referral fees- reducing the cost to you
  • HGW provide a first class, one stop conveyancing service
  • HGW’s Solicitors and Lawyers are fully qualified and together have over 100 years experience
  • HGW are on all major Lender’s Panels so can act for you when taking out a mortgage
  • HGW are also member of the Government’s Help to Buy scheme

For further information or questions you may regarding buying and selling property or the conveyancing process, please contact a member of the Conveyancing team.

Client Testimonials:

“Jane Colver was fantastic during what turned out to be a very stressful move.”

“I could not have been treated better, I am very impressed with the service I received – thank you.”

“No could not have improved, exceptional, Jane Pringle and team rock!”

“Thanks very much for your services in the sale and purchase of our properties. Very happy.”

“Honest and trustworthy, made us feel at ease. Definitely our first point of call for all our needs.”

“We were provided with an exceptional service. All queries were always answered promptly with complete professionalism.”

“Protracted executor’s sale of parents property with a chain which needed expert handling to ensure completion achieved successfully.”

“Excellent friendly service!”

“HGW were fantastic and professional from the start – Class A service!”

“Professional and excellent service – again!”

Jane Pringle

Jane Pringle

Associate and Residential Conveyancing Lawyer