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The Sellers Property Information Form (commonly known as the SPIF) is a form used in the conveyancing process, which is completed by the seller at the beginning of the transaction. It is sent to the Buyer’s Conveyancer by the Seller’s Conveyancer, together with the remaining draft contract documentation. It was first introduced by the Law Society and has since been adopted by the Council for Licensed Conveyancers.
The form itself is split into sections and covers such things as what guarantees exist for the property, to which boundaries you are obliged to maintain as legal owner. The seller should answer each section as honestly as they can, as the Form itself forms part of the contract, and is therefore binding. If you are unsure of an answer it is perfectly acceptable to answer “not known” or “not to the seller’s knowledge” as this means that you have made no further investigation in order to provide a more definite answer.
The majority of questions contained in the SPIF are self explanatory, however, the main areas that raise concern to the Seller are the following:
1. Boundaries – As previously mentioned the form asks the seller to confirm which boundaries they have maintained. They are also asked whether any boundaries have been moved in the last 20 years. The seller only needs to answer to the best of their knowledge, as the buyer’s conveyancer will check any title documents for the property to confirm whether this is confirmed in the deeds.
2. Disputes and Complaints – the seller is asked to confirm whether there have been any complaints made; either made by or against them; For example, a complaint over noise or car parking. As much information as possible should be provided, as if insufficient information is given the seller may leave themselves open to legal action after completion.
3. Sharing with Neighbours – The property may have the benefit of a shared driveway or drain. Details of any formal arrangement should be held within the title deeds to the property. However, the seller should detail in the SPIF of any informal arrangement, especially if the neighbouring property will expect them to continue in the future.
4. Arrangements and Rights – This section usually relates to informal matters that are not contained in the title deedse.g. a shared driveway where no legal right to use it is contained in the title deeds. In practice, two or more properties may use it and the cost of any maintenance be shared but the buyer would need to be informed of any implications by their conveyancer, as well as whether any further action should be taken.
5. Occupiers – Any adult (other than the seller) who lives at the property must sign the contract to confirm they will vacate the property upon completion of the sale. Failure to do so would mean that the occupier would have a right to remain living at the property even after completion. Where the occupier is a tenant, the seller must serve notice for them to vacate the property. The Buyer’s Conveyancer will then ask to see a copy of the notice as well as the Tenancy Agreement to ensure everything is in order, and that the notice has in fact been served.
6. Changes to the property – the seller should disclose if there have been any alterations or extensions to the property. Any work that has been carried out within the last ten years, copies of planning and building regulation approval should be provided to the buyer’s conveyancer. If permission should have been obtained but hasn’t been, the seller may be asked to obtain this retrospectively, or provide indemnity insurance in relation to its absence. In addition, any newly installed double glazing (since April 2002) should also have a FENSA certificate or building regulation approval, and this should be provided to the buyer’s conveyancer.
7. Sellers Property Information Part II – this section should be dealt with by the Seller’s Conveyancer.
Moving home is a stressful enough time, without what seems like the mountain of paperwork you are asked to complete by your legal representative. However, these documents assist your conveyancer in providing as much information as possible to your buyer’s conveyance, which can only help in progressing your sale to a quick completion.