This is the final Conveyancing article in this 5-part series uncovering the legal work behind a leasehold purchase, to get the full picture, read Part 1 first.
Your purchase has finally been completed. You’ve got the keys, your furniture has been moved in, and you will be unpacking your belongings and trying to find the teapot. So you might think that your Solicitor’s work has pretty well finished. After all, surely calling the handover ‘completion’ means that the work is completed.
In reality, the Conveyancing Solicitor still has a lot of work to do before his or her job is finished – and in some ways this work can be the most important stage, because your Solicitor will now have to carry out various steps to make sure that your title is properly registered at the land registry. The legal transfer of title is not complete until the transfer has been finally registered.
For a leasehold purchase, the work will also include making sure that any freeholder or managing agent who collects the yearly service charge is notified of the handover. Leases usually require such notices to be served, and managing agents will not recognise a buyer as being the home-owner until they have received and acknowledged the notice. This can lead to service charge demands being addressed to the previous owner and being redirected, leading to problems if charges are not paid.
These are the steps that your Conveyancing Solicitor will now be carrying out:
- Wait for sellers’ Solicitors to send the Transfer deed signed by the sellers, together with any other deeds and documents they have agreed to hand over. Check that all documents are properly signed.
- Complete the stamp duty land tax (SDLT) return form to HM Revenue & Customs, and pay the duty. You will probably have already been asked to sign a paper form beforehand, although it is now common for the form to be filed online.
- Send payment of any indemnity insurance premium to the insurers, and await issue of policy
- Prepare a notice of the transfer of the property, and notice of any mortgage, and send to the freeholder/managing agents (or both, if separate notices are required) and pay their fees
- Send deed of covenant, if required, to the freeholder/managing agents
- Apply for registration of any share transfer
- If required to comply with a land registry restriction, ask freeholder/managing agents to issue a certificate confirming that the buyers have signed a deed of covenant
- If the Seller had any mortgages or other charges registered, check that arrangements have been made for them to be removed. In some cases lenders contact the land registry direct, in other cases documents will be required from the lenders authorising the land registry to remove relevant entries on the title register. It may be necessary to contact the sellers’ Solicitors if any such documents have not been received.
- Once HMRC have issued a certificate that the stamp duty has been paid, and any necessary consent/licence has been received from the landlords, complete and send the application to the correct office of the land registry requesting registration of the transfer to the buyer, together with any new mortgage, and pay the land registry fees. This application must be submitted within the priority period created by the land registry search made before completion.
- Reply to any requisitions raised by the land registry. This may require further correspondence with the sellers’ Solicitors, e.g. if the registry requires a copy document to be certified.
- On receipt of title information document from land registry, check that this shows you as the registered owner with your names correctly spelt. Also check that any mortgage has been properly registered, and any previous mortgages have been removed.
- Send you a copy of the new title and any documents which the mortgage lender does not require
- Send a copy of the new title to any mortgage lender, with any documents they require
- Check with accounts department that there is nothing left on the clients account, or return any balance to you
- Check and close file
Is there anything else to consider?
Most mortgage lenders do not now store title deeds and documents. Some Solicitors will be able to store documents for you but will usually make a yearly charge for doing this. If you have not asked your Solicitor to store documents you may receive a bundle of documents. You should not assume that these are unimportant, and it is best to keep them safe in case you need to refer to them. They can also be useful when you come to sell the flat, and it can save time and your money if you hand these documents to your Solicitor when you sell.
I hope that everything has gone smoothly for you and you are happy with your new flat. But do let your Conveyancing Solicitor know if you find any problems, or if you are not happy with the service you have received. Solicitors firms should have proper complaints procedures in place, and it is best to put any complaint in writing. If a complaint cannot be resolved, then complaints should now be referred to the Legal Services Ombudsman.
Further information can be obtained from their website or contact:
Office of the Legal Services Ombudsman
PO Box 16079
I hope you found this series of articles informative. By now, you should be equipped to really understand what a Solicitor does for their Conveyancing Fees, and find a better deal when it comes to your next home move.
The Bottom Line - Isn’t all that work going to be expensive?
Just because there many elements for the Conveyancer to consider “behind the scenes”, that doesn’t mean you should be charged for each individually, nor should you accept an hourly rate - this can get very expensive, and is difficult to budget for.
Don’t make the mistake of thinking Cheap Conveyancing means that you will receive a lesser service; if anything, low cost, No Move, No Fee guarantees etc. can indicate that your Solicitor is more aware of the modern market, more likely to be proactive and act quickly for you.
Higher fees, and long winded terms & conditions are a good indication not that you are dealing with a Quality Solicitor, but instead with an old-fashioned firm that may slow down completion ( e.g. by posting letters rather than calling you on the phone, posting documents for you to sign rather than emailing them).
Read the terms and conditions carefully, and don’t get caught out by Hidden Fees.
Fridaysmove ’s Conveyancing is backed by our No Hidden Fees and No Move, No Fee guarantees, and is the Cheapest Conveyancing on the market – but don’t take my word for it get a Conveyancing Quote and see for yourself.