Jargon Buster

In order to make some of the terms we use a bit clearer we have provided a list defining the most important ones:

Assent – the name given to a transfer document by which the representatives of a deceased owner transfer the property to the person entitled

Building Insurance – buildings insurance provides cover for you in case something happens to the property you are purchasing (a fire for example). In conveyancing transactions in England and Wales you are often responsible for building’s insurance from exchange of Contracts (not completion).  It is important to have an appropriate level of cover in place from this date. The policy value should be able to meet any costs involved in rebuilding the property, rather than the current property value.

Building Survey – a survey usually carried out by a chartered surveyor with the purpose of creating a detailed report of the general structural condition of the property highlighting any defects

Building Regulation Consent – approval by the local authority to the method of construction and materials used in building work.

Chain – a position in which Seller 1 sells to Buyer 1 and Buyer 1 sells to Buyer 2 etc. thus creating a chain of connected transactions.

Client Care Letter – the client care letter details the level of service you should expect from the firm handling your conveyancing matter. Until you have signed and returned a client care letter to a lawyer you have not instructed them, and are under no obligation do so just because you got a quote from them.

Completion Date – This is the day the seller must move out of the property and hand the keys to the estate agent by the time specified in the contract, usually 2.00pm.  The seller must not leave rubbish in the property or any items of furniture that have not been specified in the fixtures and fittings form. The buyers lawyer sends the sellers lawyer the money required to buy the property.   Once this money is received then completion has taken place and the property belongs to the buyer. The estate agent will not give the keys to the buyer until the sellers lawyer has received all the money needed from the buyers lawyer.

Completion Statement – this is a full breakdown of the financial costs incurred in purchasing a property and will be provided by your lawyer. It states the total amount of money your lawyer needs from you in order to complete the purchase of your chosen property on your behalf.

Contract – the Contract is a legal document that sets out the terms of the conveyancing transaction and the parties involved, and is drafted by the seller’s solicitor.

Contract Pack – the Contract pack is a collection of documents and information relating to the property being sold. It is compiled by the seller’s lawyer and contains key details including: draft Contract, copy title deeds, a completed property information form (completed by the seller) and a fixtures and fittings form (completed by the seller). The Contract pack is forwarded to the buyer’s lawyer so he may investigate the seller’s legal title over the property.

Conveyancing: The transfer of legal ownership from one party to another.

Covenants – rules/regulations governing specifics that can /cannot be carried out in the properties title deeds or lease/leasehold agreement.

Deed of Covenant – a document or deed containing an agreement to pay or do something.

Deed of Gift – a document or deed used to transfer ownership of property from one person to another without any payment being made.

Deeds – documents which establish ownership and confirm the Owner’s title to the property.

Deposit – this is the amount of money the buyer will pay to the seller on exchange of Contracts. The standard deposit is 10%, however if you are buying and selling your lawyer can usually use your buyers deposit for your purchase without the need to find a deposit in cash.

Disbursements – these are additional costs incurred during a property sale or purchase, and include things such as stamp duty and search fees.

Easement – a legal right given by a property owner to use another property owners land e.g. right of way.

Epitome of Title – a summary or list of relevant title deeds proving the history of ownership of a property.

Exchange of Contracts – This is the stage where the sale or purchase becomes legally binding and a deposit is usually paid. A completion date is fixed and there are penalties should either party pull out after this point. A buyer who pulls out will lose their deposit; a seller who pulls out can be forced to complete the sale.

Fees – this is the charge levied by your lawyer to complete your conveyancing transaction and VAT will be payable on any fees. It is worth noting that disbursements may also be payable in addition to any legal fees. 

Fixtures, Fittings and Contents Form – a standard form in which the Seller specifies items in or affixed to the property which are included in the sale at the agreed price.

Flying Freehold – if at least a part of one property is built on top of part of another property (and the upper property owner does not own the whole building or land underneath the “flying” part) and the legal structure of the block is not leasehold, then a flying freehold will arise.

Freehold – ownership of the land upon which the property is situated on.

Full Title Guarantee – the standard guarantee given by an absolute owner to the Buyer.

Ground Rent – this is the rent paid by a lessee to a lessor where a property is leasehold. It is often paid yearly.

Joint Tenancy – a form of joint ownership of land when two or more parties share the ownership of the whole title to the property. If one party dies, then the survivor/s will own the whole property.

Land Registry – an organisation controlled by central government which maintains a register of properties and their ownership in England and Wales.  It now covers approximately 90 – 95 percent of residential dwellings. The Registry records the prices that properties are sold for.

Land Registry Fee – the fee payable to the Land Registry to register any change in the property details including a change of ownership

Lease – a document setting out the rights and obligations of the Landlord and Tenant (Lessor and Lessee) in the leasehold arrangements.

Leasehold – where the ownership of property is for a limited period only.  For example 99 years or 999 years.  It will normally involve payment of an annual ground rent.

Lender – a Bank, Building Society or other person or company who lends money to an Owner.

Limited Title Guarantee – a title guarantee given by a Seller who has limited knowledge of the property and cannot give a full title guarantee such as someone selling on behalf of a deceased owner.

Mortgage Deed – a document used when a Lender lends money to a Buyer or existing Owner.  The document is registered against the property at the Land Registry and secures repayment to the Lender.

Mortgage Offer – this specifies the terms upon which the Lender is prepared to make the loan including the specific financial details and period of repayment

Occupier’s Consent – any person who lives at the property who is not an owner (and so will not be signing the mortgage deed) will be asked to consent to the mortgage being taken out and agree to move out if the mortgagee lender takes possession by reason of default of the owner.

Party Wall – a wall owned jointly with a neighbour and repairable at joint (and normally equal) expense.

Planning Permission – approval by the planning authority to the construction (and extension/alteration) of a property or a change of its use.

Pre-contract Enquiries – these are enquiries made by the buyer’s lawyer to the seller’s lawyer, requiring information relating to the property being purchased prior to exchange of contracts.

Probate – the process of ‘Proving’ a persons will to enable a deceased person’s estate to be dealt with.

Property Information Form – this is a questionnaire about the property that the seller is requested to complete by their lawyer. It asks for details about the property such as details of current utility providers, boundaries, fixtures (such as double glazing) and planning permissions.

Redemption – the repayment of an existing mortgage or loan.

Redemption Statement – this details the amount it will cost you to pay back your mortgage early, and is usually made up of the amount of money you owe the lender along with a penalty for the early redemption of your mortgage.

Service Charge – a payment required by a Landlord (or managing agent) to cover the costs of insuring and/or maintaining a development or block of which the property forms part.

Shared Equity/Ownership – similar to Joint Equity  but often used in a situation where a “Shared Equity Scheme” provides a loan which acts as  part of a buyers deposit in a property purchase. There are government or Housing Association Schemes available to provide this type of purchase but not all Lenders will accept applicants.

Stamp Duty – ‘Stamp Duty Land Tax’ a tax paid by purchasers, the amount payable depends on the value of the property.

Subsidence – where a property moves due to poor construction or ground movement for geological reasons.

Tenants in Common – another type of property ownership, in which separate owners each have a share in a property which would form part of a person’s estate and would not automatically pass to the other party/ies – unlike a ‘Joint Tenancy’.

Title – The title tells us who the owners of a property are; the rights the property has over neighbouring land and neighbouring land has over the property as well as what restrictions there are on the use of that property.

Transfer – a document which actually transfers ownership of a property from one person to another (as opposed to a Contract which may include an obligation to effect a transfer at a later date).

Transfer of Equity – a document transferring ownership of a part share or interest in a property from one person to another.

Vacant Possession – a Seller required to give vacant possession must (on completion) leave the property (including the garden and outhouses) empty of people, possessions and rubbish.

Valuation/ Appraisal – an estate agents inspection of the property to give an assessment of its value in the current market.

Wayleave Agreement – a written agreement entered into with an owner to give a service provider (e.g. Electricity or Telephone company) a right for their cables to pass under or over their property.