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Moving house is often described as one of life’s most stressful experiences but does it have to be like this? There are many factors which need to be taken into account to successfully process a house move. With our knowledge and experience and our ability to deal with other local solicitors and estate agents and other professional advisors, we can avoid many of the frustrating delays and obstacles that seem to crop up quite regularly especially in chains of transactions. A realistic approach to time scales together with ability to identify and resolve issues which are causing delays make it possible for us to achieve the earliest practical completion dates.

Hal Emmett Solicitors

Conveyancing Lingo

Below are useful keywords and terminology associated with conveyancing.

  • Freehold

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    This is generally regarded as the best type of tenure of property. If you own your property on a freehold basis, you will not normally have to pay any “rent” to anyone, although a small number of freehold properties are affected by a very small yearly rent known as a “chief rent” or “yearly rent charge”.
  • Leasehold

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    If the tenure of the property you own is leasehold then this means that you will own the property for a term of years and will be liable to pay a ground rent. In some cases, the ground rent is shown as a “peppercorn”, meaning that no money rent actually has to change hands. In other cases, there is an actual money rent to be paid. For example, a large number of properties in the Maghull and Lydiate areas were sold on a leasehold basis with a term of 999 years, subject to ground rents which vary between 15, 20 and 26 per year. Clients often ask whether they should buy out the freehold of their leasehold property but they should always seek professional advice before parting with any money or signing any documentation. There have been instances of leasehold owners paying money to the “freeholders” without the benefit of legal advice and then finding that they do not obtain the correct freehold title documentation.
  • Flats

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    Because of the legal complexities of owning and managing flats, it is not normally possible to own a flat on a freehold basis and the vast majority of flats are held as leasehold. It is, however, possible and usually desirable for the freehold of a block of flats to be owned by a Residents’ Management Company in which all of the individual flat owners have a share. Thus, a flat can be advertised for sale on a leasehold basis with a share of the freehold to be included. The government has introduced a new form of tenure called “commonhold” but this has had a very limited take-up so far.
  • Covenants and Restrictive Covenants

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    All leasehold properties and many properties will have Title Documentation which includes Covenants/Restrictive Covenants. For example, the Lease of a flat will include positive covenants requiring the flat owner to maintain the flat and to contribute towards the service charge etc. and Restrictive Covenants aimed at minimising antisocial behaviour which would upset other well-behaved neighbours etc. In the case of leasehold houses, many leasehold owners are surprised to find that, strictly speaking, they should ask the Freeholder for permission for any alterations or additions as well as having to obtain whatever Local Authority Approvals may be required. Many freeholders take advantage of this situation and try to charge exorbitant fees for granting consent retrospectively knowing that, in order to push the sale through, most leasehold owners may feel there is no alternative other than to pay the fee, however unreasonable it is. If you are thinking of selling a leasehold house where alterations or additions have been made then please seek advice from us before placing the property on the market as there are some steps you can possibly take to minimise your expenditure in relation to the freeholders.
  • Preliminary Searches

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    These would normally include a Local Search with the Local Authority, a Drainage/Water Search with the local Water Authority and also an Environmental Search. In certain areas, it is necessary to carry out further searches such as Coal Mining Searches and other specialist enquiries. A Home Information Pack (HIP) has to contain at least a Drainage/Water Search and also some form of Local Search, but there can be problems with some Lenders accepting the form of the Local Search which may be included within a HIP.
  • Enquiries before Contract

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    Traditionally, the Seller’s Solicitor sends out draft contract papers and the Buyer’s solicitor raises various enquiries on these - some of them relating to specific points which arise, but many of them in a standard form of Additional Enquiries. At Hal Emmett Solicitors, we have worked hard to prepare a package of documentation which addresses all the points which should arise when acting for a Seller. The aim is to submit a complete contract package on which the Buyer’s solicitor need not raise any further queries. This requires more effort at the start of the sale transaction but can bring significant benefits in speeding up the conveyancing process.
  • Mortgage Offer/Solicitors’ Mortgage Instructions

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    A Buyer obviously needs to have a Mortgage Offer for any finance required before proceeding to the legally binding stage of exchange of contracts. This Mortgage Offer needs to be in writing and in a particular form of wording to comply with current regulations. It is very important for any Buyer to study the whole of the written Mortgage Offer carefully to ensure it meets the Buyer’s requirements and has all relevant details of full names and addresses etc. correctly shown. When sending out the Mortgage Offer to the Buyer, the Lender will normally at the same time send out a similar version to the solicitor acting for the Lender/Buyer and this document is known as “Solicitors’ Mortgage Instructions”.
  • Exchange of Contracts

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    This is the first of the two significant legal stages in any transaction. Prior to exchanging contracts, every Buyer needs to be satisfied with the contract paperwork, replies to enquiries, preliminary search results and Mortgage Offer paperwork. When every Buyer is in this position, the parties can move towards an exchange of contracts, which is a process usually dealt with by telephone between the solicitors using a strict Law Society formula. Buyers and Sellers will need to sign their own contracts before the exchange of contracts can take place so it is important to remember that just signing a contract has no legal effect and the parties will have to sign the contract in advance of and in readiness for exchange of contracts before the exchange process can begin.
  • Completion Date

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    This can only be agreed on a legal and worthwhile basis when all parties are actually ready to exchange contracts. It is very important to avoid relying upon any proposed completion date until it can be seen that all parties are actually ready to exchange contracts, rather than just talking about preferred completion dates. Completion is scheduled to take place on a weekday - Monday to Friday - because of the requirements for Bank transfers to be made. The parties in a chain usually need to budget for moving out of their existing house by 1.00 p.m., although advice from their solicitors should always be sought in advance of making removal arrangements as the timing of the Bank transfers can be influenced significantly by the length of the chain.