Conveyancing Terms Explained

Attwells Solicitors are committed to quick, jargon-free conveyancing. To that end we produced this useful conveyancing glossary.

Assent is the formal document that is required for a property to change ownership following the death of the owner.

Basic fee this term relates to the fee charged by our solicitor for their time and skills. This amount can be fixed (fixed-fee) or calculated per-hour.

Breach of Contract can only occur once contracts have been exchanged. If the buyer or seller pulls out resulting in the non-completion of the conveyancing process they are in breach of contract. If this happens to you, you can legally seek reparations.

Boundaries is the extent of property you own or are buying. This is usually defined by some form of boundary, such as a fence.

Caveat Emptor is a legal term meaning ‘make the buyer beware’. Your conveyancer or solicitor will advise you of the best course of action.

Chain is a common term surrounding conveyancing and is related to linked sales and purchases. This can delay your completion at times depending on your position in the chain.

Charge is a debt secured against your home or another property that you own. In most cases this is a mortgage. You just need to make your conveyancer and solicitor aware of any charges on your property.

Chattels is a term meaning personal property, I conveyancing it relates to the items you left behind after selling your home or what you include in the purchase price. This could include an oven and curtains. You should list these on your Fixtures, Fittings and Contents form provided by your conveyancer or solicitor.

Commons registration search is completed by your local authority to ensure a property is not registered as common land. They also check your property has no third-party rights over it.

Completion date is the date when your conveyancing is completed, a full payment is made and the title deeds are transferred to the new owner. This is also the day you receive the key and can move in!

Completion statement is a financial breakdown of the property purchase and will outline our conveyancing fees. Attwells Solicitors will send you this after you exchange contracts.

Covenant are obligations and restrictions that are attached to a property. All covenants should be discussed with your Solicitor and conveyancer.

Deeds are a legal document that confirm ownership details including the method of purchase (if a mortgage remains).

Deposit is money paid to the seller upon exchange of contracts. It's a small percentage amount of the purchase price. Your conveyancer or solicitor can negotiate this figure.

Disbursements are fixed costs incurred by us during the conveyancing process, such as a search fee payable to the Land Registry. We then pass this cost on to our client upon instruction.

Drainage search is a check your solicitor or conveyancer will carry out to ensure your property is connected to mains water and sewers.

Easement is a legal term for the right of way over a piece of land owned by someone else.

Encumbrance relates to a problem with your property that reduces its value or even makes it challenging to sell.

Equity is the monetary difference between the value of a property and the outstanding mortgage balance.

Exchange of contracts is when contracts are signed and exchanged by your conveyancer or solicitor making the terms of offer legally binding.

Freehold is a term given to a property or piece of land that benefits from absolute property and is not limited to a period of time unlike a leasehold property.

Gazumping is when a seller accepts a higher offer, after agreeing a lower offer.

Ground rent is a yearly fee relating to leasehold properties. This is payable by the lessee to the lessor.

Indemnity insurance policy can be taken out. It protects the buyer against any problems that maybe experienced due to a defect in the legal title. Your conveyancer and solicitors can advise you on this.

HM Land Registry is a government organisation that deals with ownership of property and land in England and Wales.

Index map search is accepted by the Land Registry to determine if your property is registered or not.

Land Registry office copies are requested during the conveyancing process and are copies of the above.

Leasehold relates to a property being purchased with a right to occupy land or a building for a said length of time.

Local authority searches are completed by your conveyancer or solicitor at the beginning of your transaction. These searches will unearth any council plans that may affect the property you wish to purchase.

Mortgage redemption is the sum of money required by your lender to repay your mortgage.

Negative equity is the negative monetary difference between the value of a property and the outstanding mortgage balance.

Occupier’s consent is required when the person or people living at a property are not signatures on the mortgage deed. If this applies to you please contact your conveyancer or solicitors.

Power of attorney is a legal document that allows a person to act on behalf another person. These are normally used to safeguard the interests of the elderly or ill.

Pre-completion searches are checks to discover if you have been bankrupt and to confirm the property is legally owned by the seller as a result. These are completed before contracts are exchanged.

Property Information Form is a form your conveyancer will ask you to complete. It lists questions regarding boundaries, services, and restrictions. If you are unsure, please ask your conveyancer or solicitor for help.

Reparations is a term give to the compensation in the event of a breach of contract.

Reservation fee is a fee payable to your mortgage provider, who advances you funds, to cover the cost construction or property developer reservation fees.

Service charges are payable to your landlord. The charge covers any repairs, maintenance or improvements made to the property.

Stamp Duty Land Tax also known as SDLT is a tax payable to HMRC and is based on the purchase price. There is exception to paying this tax and your conveyancer or solicitor will be able to confirm if you are required to pay this or not.

SSTC is an abbreviation for Sold Subject to Contract which is a term used by estate agents when a sale has been agreed but contracts have not been exchanged.

Subsidence is when a property moves due to poor foundations. It can also be caused by changes to ground although these would have to be significant.

Title deeds are proof of ownership of a property and are held by your mortgage lender who legally own the property until the mortgage is paid back. Your conveyancer or solicitors will request these.

Transfer deed is legal document that transfers the name of the property owner. These documents must be witnessed when signed. Your conveyancer and solicitor will advise you regarding this.

Transfer of equity is similar to above but relates to finance, transferring shares or interest in the property.

Wayleave agreement an agreement between the property owner and service provider that allows piping or cabling through or over the property.