The Law Society has asked for feedback from Conveyancing Solicitors about its proposed changes to the Property Information Form (TA6). We investigated what the changes will mean for buyers and sellers of property.
What is the Property Information Form?
The Property Information Form, known to those who live in the Byzantine legal world as a TA6, is a form filled out by the vendor of a property. It is designed to streamline the Conveyancing process by standardising the information the seller provides to the buyer.
The property world is guided by one gleaming principle ‘caveat emptor’ or ‘let the buyer beware’. As such, the onus is on the homebuyer to discover as much about the property as possible. This is why a Conveyancing Solicitor and Property Survey are vital elements of the home buying process.
The Property Information Form balances the tables slightly. It contains a series of questions pertaining to the property. In it, the seller is expected to provide information about aspects of the house such as the boundaries, on-going neighbourly disputes, alterations and planning control.
For a full list of what the Form investigates and details on how it balances the transaction between buyer and seller, see our glossary article on the Property Information Form.
What changes are going to be made?
The Law Society is asking Solicitors to advise them on how the Property Information Form (and its sister form the Fittings and Contents Form (TA10) can be amended to provide more information to the buyer.
The details of these changes will be finalised through the consultation.
What do the changes to the Property Information Form mean for the consumer?
Essentially this is good news for home buyers and sellers alike. Solicitors will normally charge clients for raising additional enquiries. The more information that can be exchanged directly between buyer and seller reduces legal fees on both sides.
Prima facie, Fridaysmove applauds the proposed changes. The industry is awash with hidden fees and charges. In order to discourage this practice, which we believe is unscrupulous, Fridaysmove ensure that our Solicitors are bound to a fixed fee. This means that your quoted price cannot change and includes any extra enquiries the Solicitor has to make. In this way we protect the consumer against the nasty surprises that ruin so many home buying transactions.
What’s the catch in the Property Information Form reform?
Unfortunately it isn’t quite so simple. The new forms will only be compulsory for law firms covered by the Conveyancing Quality Scheme (CQS). If they want to compete with larger CQS practices, high street law firms will have to purchase the new forms from the Law Society. This will no doubt come at a large cost. This drives a further wedge between the major law firms and their smaller high street cousins as many smaller firms will continue to use the unchanged form.
Thus, it is with a word of caution that we commend the Law Society’s amendments. While these changes, on the surface, benefit the consumer. At a time when the entire profession is reeling from the HSBC panel cut (which overwhelmingly benefits larger CQS firms), further consolidation around the big players can only add to consumer concerns about competition.