Are you a purchaser requiring access or a seller where your buyer is requesting access ?
Access to the residential property you intend to purchase will ordinarily will not be allowed prior to completion of the conveyancing process. That being said even though access may unconventional is it not unheard of, for access to be given to a property, for required works to be carried out in order to ensure release of a mortgage retention (an amount held back by the mortgage lender which could amount to the whole of the mortgage advance until specific works have been carried out) thereby enabling the sale of the property to proceed. In other words it may be the buyer and seller's only option – assuming the seller is not prepared to do the works themselves.
It is highly unlikely that access will be allowed to the property in advance of exchange of contracts ( at least not with the knowledge of the conveyancers ) and only where the seller agrees will access be granted between exchange and completion of the conveyancing contract. In cases where access is required by you between exchange and completion it will be necessary for you to enter into a legal agreement known as a as an access undertaking or key undertaking which will set out the terms of access to the property. Sellers may also insist that in a condition for allowing access to the property the buyer should take over all insurance arrangements as well as liability for council tax and utility services at the property.
Access for leasehold properties
In the case of a leasehold property the buyer may be asked to take over service charge liability form the access date. A conveyancing lawyer can of course try and arrange a suitable key undertaking to deal with such matter but there is no guarantee that a seller or their conveyancing solicitor will agree to access. It is generally advisable to inform your conveyancing lawyer of your requirements at the beginning of the conveyancing process.
A standard form of key undertaking or access or key undertaking is as follows :
KEY UNDERTAKING FOR ACCESS AFTER EXCHANGE
In consideration of you allowing me to enter the above property at my sole risk following exchange of contracts in order that I may commence work as hereinafter mentioned I hereby undertake as follows:
I hereby ACKNOWLEDGE to have borrowed a key of the above property from the estate agents prior to completion of the purchase which shall not confer any tenancy in the premises or any part thereof and is without prejudice to the Sellers' other rights and remedies and that entry will be made and any permitted work carried out entirely at my risk and
I further ACKNOWLEDGE and undertake:-
1. Not to take possession or occupation of the property prior to completion of the purchase or to sleep or to reside in the property or move in or place any type of furniture or run any business therein nor allow anyone else to do any of these things.
2. To return the key to the property to the agents if demanded and to return the key prior to completion and not to have duplicates made of any of the keys.
3. To be responsible for and make good or pay compensation for any damage or injury (including injury resulting in death) to any person or property arising by reason of your allowing me access to the property as aforesaid and shall keep you fully and effectually indemnified against all costs charges expenses actions claims and demands in respect of any such injury or damage
4. Prior to entering the property as aforesaid to insure the property for the full replacement value against the usual risk covered by a comprehensive home policy thereof and furnish you with evidence thereof if called upon to do so with a note of your interest in the property made thereon or recorded with the insurance
5. Not to carry out or permit to be carried out any work whether of a structural or non-structural nature in the property it being hereby expressly agreed that we may only undertake works of the nature hereinafter specified and not otherwise.
7. Not to bring any action claim or demand against you for any injury to any person or for any loss or damage to any equipment or apparatus however caused arising by reason of you allowing me access to the property as aforesaid
8. If I shall unreasonably delay the completion of the purchase of the property or I shall fail to perform and observe any of the above conditions then I shall at your written request which may be given without notice restore the property to its original state and condition if requested remove all articles which I have bought or caused to be bought on the property make any diminution of the value of the property and surrender the key to the agents.
9. That I will indemnity the Seller against all outgoings and expenses or any loss damage injury or claims arising from my having access to the property before completion including damage caused by reason of the property being left unsecured and will keep the property insured against the usual risks covered by a comprehensive home policy or any breach of any of the covenants and conditions relating to the property.
Dated this day of 200