It’s a sad fact that far too many solicitors use jargon and complicated legal terminology, especially when it comes to conveyancing. Too often legal conveyancing terms simply aren’t explained properly. And that makes the whole process of buying your own home sound even more complicated than it actually is.
So what do all those technical terms solicitors use when it comes to buying and selling a house or flat actually mean?
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Here’s our A to Z conveyancing jargon busting guide. We hope it’s pretty comprehensive, but if there are any conveyancing terms to explain which we have missed – do let us know.
Absent Freeholder – a missing landlord. This can cause problems for leasehold flat owners.but it can also raise opportunities for better value lease extension in freehold purchase.
Click here to read more about buying leasehold property with an absent freeholder
Abstract of title – a chronological summary of relevant title deeds proving history of ownership
Accidental Landlord – someone who owns a property but didn’t initially intend to rent it out. This can be because they find it hard to sell their property or have inherited a property.
Adopted highway – a road or path which is maintained by the local authority at their expense. Distinct from an unadopted or private road which is not maintained at public expense
Advance – the mortgage money when it is paid by the lender.
Adverse possession – acquiring property through continuous occupation, without the permission of the legal owner. Often called “squatters rights”.
Click here to read more about adverse possession
Apportionments – when buying a leasehold flat, you will become responsible for ground rent and service charges. Apportionments cover the situation where the vendor has paid for some of these charges upfront and in advance. There will therefore will be a need for the buyer to reimburse the seller on completion for those costs that would be due for the post completion period
Approved In Principle – where a lender has given an idea of how much they may be able to lend you, normally subject to further checks and the receipt of further information. Also referred to as a “decision in principle’ or ‘agreement in principle’
Arrears – the amount of mortgage instalments or rent that is overdue as a result of being behind in payments
Assignment – the process of transferring a lease.
Assured shorthold tenancy – also known as AST. A standard form of tenancy agreement – which allows the landlord to re-take possession of the property at the end of the tenancy term
Balance outstanding – the total amount of a loan outstanding at any one time
Bankruptcy Search – a check your solicitor will carry out with the Land Charges Register to make sure that there are no existing or imminent bankruptcy proceedings against the vendor.
Best and final offer – a phrase often used by estate agents where a property has more than one person interested in it. To avoid lengthy negotiations going back and forth, estate agents may ask potential buyers to give their ‘best and final offer’, with both parties indicating the highest offer they are prepared to make. information is not shared with any other potential purchasers. Best and final offers are treated as “sealed bids”, with the offers being considered only when everyone else is put in their offer and the deadline for best and final offers has past.
BMV – where it is believed that the sale price of a property is “below market value”
Boundaries – the legal definition of the limits of the property being bought or sold. Boundaries are usually hedges, walls or fences, and will be marked clearly on the deeds.
Click here to read more about boundary disputes
Breach – the failure to keep to an obligation in a legal document – often in relation to a lease. The breach of any lease can have serious consequences – it may allow the freeholder, for example, the right to forfeit the lease in extreme circumstances. When it comes to leasehold property, 2 of the most common breaches our in relation to failing to pay service charges, rent or ground rent.
Broker – A mortgage broker is a person who can help you to get the right loan for you
Building regulations – quite different from planning permission. These rules set standards for the design and construction of buildings to to safeguard the health and safety of occupiers or visitors to those buildings, and can cover other issues such as access for the disabled.
Buying off plan – see “Off Plan” below
Buy to let – property usually bought by a person with the aim of renting it out rather than living in it.
Click here to read more about our buy to let conveyancing service
Capital Repayment Mortgage – a mortgage where you also repay the capital over time rather than simply the interest.
Capped Rate – a variable mortgage interest rate which has a maximum capped upper limit, and is usually only available for a limited period.
Capital Gains Tax – for landlords this means the tax paid when selling a property that is not your main home. It applies to any profit you have made on the increase in the property’s price. As at March 2023, the rate currently stands at 28% for higher rate taxpayers and 18% for those paying basic rate income tax.
Cashback – A type of mortgage product where the lender pays you a cash lump sum when you successfully buy a house or flat, or where you remortgage your current property.
Certificate of title – the document the conveyancing solicitor gives to the lender to confirm certain statements about the property. It confirms to the lender:
- that the property has a “good and marketable title” i.e. that there are no legal problems with the property, so the lender can lend the mortgage monies safely
- who own the property after completion
- the completion date
Chain – a situation where one buyer can only make a purchase when his own sale goes through and so on down the chain. It is often the case that just a couple of links in the chain can make the process much more complicated.
Chancel repair liability – a financial obligation imposed on some property owners to pay for certain repairs to a church, often the local parish church
Charge – a sum of money for which the property is being used as security. Banks or Building Societies will register a charge against a property if you are buying it using mortgage funds.
Chattels – items of personal property left at a property after someone moves out and which are included in the purchase price. They are set out in the Fixtures, Fittings and Contents form. However there is a difference between chattels and fixtures. In general terms, chattels are movable, such as furniture. In contrast, fixtures are permanently attached to the land and cannot be moved.
Collateral – an item up as security when taking out a loan.
Commonhold – an alternative way of holding property and different from both freehold and leasehold. It only applies to flats or apartments. Commonhold provides a different way for flat owners to share ownership of their block.
Click here to read more about Commonhold ownership
Common Land Search – a search the conveyancer will carry out to establish whether there are rights of fishing or grazing affecting a property.
Common parts – those parts of the building enjoyed by everyone but which do not form an exclusive part of any individual’s flat e.g. communal gardens and stairs.
Completion date – the finishing post of the conveyancing process. At this point, full payment for a property has been made, and the title deeds have been transferred. Many people use this term to mean the day on which you get the keys and move into a new home.
Completion statement – a financial document detailing all the costs associated with the purchase of the property. This is usually sent out after contracts are exchanged, but before the sale completes. This document is particularly important as it sets out the costs due to the conveyancer, including VAT and disbursements.
Compulsory Purchase – where property is acquired usually by a public body under an Act of Parliament, using an appropriate Compulsory Purchase Order. This will often enable the buyer to purchase the property regardless of the wishes of the current owner
Condition of sale – the legal terms of the contract for the purchase of a property.
Conservation area – a geographical area where there are extra local planning restrictions meant to ensure the safety of the area’s architectural history
Contents insurance – an insurance policy which covers all movable contents inside a property against accidental damage or theft. As distinct from buildings insurance which covers the actual building.
Contract – this is the agreement between a buyer and a seller which is legally binding.
Conveyancer – a catch all term for the solicitor or lawyer who is carrying out your conveyancing. Can also referred to Licenced Conveyancers – those lawyers qualified and regulated by the CLC – the Council for Licensed Conveyancers.
Conveyancing – The legal process when ownership of a property is transferred from the seller to the purchaser.
Click here to read more about the conveyancing process
Conveyancing protocol – The Law Society Conveyancing Protocol provides guidelines to follow when conveyancers act in the sale and/or purchase of a home for an owner-occupier. The Protocol aims to help standardise the conveyancing process, make that process more transparent and efficient as well as improve the experience for solicitors, lenders and client
Court Appointed Manager – All owners of leasehold flats have the right to apply to the First-tier Tribunal (Property Chamber) to appoint a new manager of their block.
Click here to read more about the Court Appointed Property Manager
Covenant – Any restrictions and obligations which are associated with the purchase of a property. An obligation means you are legally obliged to take responsibility for the upkeep of something on the property. A restriction means you are forbidden from erecting certain buildings or undertaking certain renovations.
Criss-cross leases or ‘crossover leases – see Tyneside leases below.
Deed of Gift – a formal legal document used to give a gift of a house, flat or land from one person to another without any payment being made. It can also be used to legally add someone to your property deeds, transferring all or part ownership
Deed of Guarantee – a type of binding legal contract under which one person agrees to be responsible for another’s debt or mortgage obligations if that other person fails meet their own obligations. These type of agreements are common with loans and commercial finance, as they provide the lender with protection from a borrower failing to pay as agreed
Deed of Postponement – an agreement, normally between two lenders, where they agree that one loan should be “postponed” behind the other lender’s loan. Often this means that one mortgage will become a 2nd charge ranking behind the 1st charge registered at the Land Registry
Deeds – the legal paperwork setting out who owns a property. This is kept by the owner, or by the mortgage company if the property has been bought with a mortgage. The old system of relying on paper Title Deeds have now largely been replaced by land registration at HM Land Registry.
Default – failing to make agreed mortgage payments
Delayed completion – when you agree a purchase price and exchange contracts with an agreed deposit in the usual way, but completion of the sale is delayed for a period – which can be years.
Click here to read more about Delayed Completion
Demand for payment – a written demand for payment to each leaseholder is required to secure payment of ground rent and service charges under the lease. there is often a requirement that the wording of this type of demand is entirely correct – a mistake in the wording can mean that the demand is not valid – and therefore the leaseholder is under no obligation to pay until a valid demand is received.
Demised premises – ownership of those parts of a building that have been transferred by lease, as opposed to the ‘retained parts’ which are not transferred but are retained by the landlord. “Demised Premises” will usually cover everything within the four walls of the flat, including floorboards and walls, but usually excludes any external walls.
Deposit – the amount which is paid at the time contracts are exchanged, normally 10%. This confirms the buyers’ commitment to the purchase.
Disbursements – Expenses incurred by the conveyancer or solicitor when working for the buyer. The conveyancer will pass these costs along to the buyer, but might add an additional service charge.
Down valuation – where the valuation provided (often by the lender’s surveyor) is lower than expected or needed for the mortgage application
Drainage search – one of a number of searches carried out by your solicitor – to check whether your property is connected to mains water and drainage
Early repayment penalty – some lenders impose a financial penalty if you try to pay off your mortgage early
Easement – legal term for the right to use someone else’s property for a particular purpose. They include rights of way, which are easements that allow the holder the right to travel across another’s property.
Endowment Mortgage – a interest only mortgage where you also pay for an insurance premium on an endowment policy – in place to pay off the original loan amount at the end of the mortgage term
Engrossment – the final version of a legal document ready for signature by all parties.
EPC – Energy Performance Certificate. A document containing information on a property’s energy use and typical energy costs, along with recommendations on how to reduce energy use and thus save money. In England and Wales, from 2020, all privately rented, domestic properties must have an EPC rating of E or better. Failure to provide an EPC for a property can result in a landlord being unable to evict a tenant.
Epitome of title – see abstract of title above
Enfranchisement – the process under which the owners of residential long leasehold flats exercise their legal right to come together to jointly buy the freehold of their block from the freeholder. Also applies to the freehold purchase of a house. In general terms, your freeholder cannot refuse to sell the freehold
Click here to read more about lease enfranchisement.
Engrossment – the final version of a document which is the one all parties sign.
Environmental search – another of the searches carried out by your solicitor. It will reveal such issues as whether or not there is a flood risk or if the land your property is built on could be contaminated
Equity – the difference between the market value of a property, and the amount outstanding on a mortgage.
Click here to read about how equity release works
Estate charge – similar to a service charge, but an estate charge relates to freehold houses on an estate –rather than leasehold flats
Exchange of Contracts – this is stage when solicitors acting for both the buyer and seller swap signed contracts and the deposit is paid over. At this point in the conveyancing process, the agreement between seller and buyer becomes legally binding.
Exclusivity agreements – see reservation agreements below
First Tier Property Tribunal – the tribunal responsible for making decisions in a number of property disputes – ranging from setting the level of lease extension and enfranchisement premiums to service charge disputes. Previously known as the Leasehold Valuation Tribunal or LVT.
Click here to read more about First-Tier Tribunal Property Chamber Disputes
First time buyer – A purchaser who has not previously bought property.
Fixed Rate Mortgage – a loan with a rate that doesn’t change for a fixed period (often 3 or 5 years)
Fixtures and Fittings – items in the property which can sometimes be included or excluded from the property sale.
Flying freehold – where part of the property either overhangs or lies beneath another person’s property – which gives rise to the ‘flying’ part of the name. It does not apply where a block is owned on a leasehold basis
Forfeiture – the ultimate freeholder’s sanction for any breach of lease. Forfeiture involves the right to re-enter the property and repossess it – effectively bringing the lease to an end. Threat of forfeiture alone is often enough to make the tenant remedy the breach
Freehold – a type of property ownership in which not only the property is owned, but also the land on which it stands. The freehold title owner will be registered at the Land Registry, and the freehold can be bought and sold.
Click here to read more about the difference between Freehold and Leasehold
Freehold and free – a term that describing a freehold house that does not have something called a rentcharge (see below)
Freeholder – person or persons owning a freehold property
Freehold Company – a company that owns the freehold, usually of a block of flats, following the process of enfranchisement. One share is normally owned by each individual leaseholder who participated in the freehold purchase. Members are often described as ‘having a share of the freehold’.
Freehold Purchase – an alternative phrase describing the process of Enfranchisement (see above)
Full Title Guarantee – a more thorough guarantee than Limited Title Guarantee (see below). With Full Title Guarantee various things are implied including that the vendor has the right to sell the property, and that the whole of that property is being sold free from all mortgages or other rights exercisable by a third party.
Further advance – taking on more borrowing from your existing mortgage lender. This may be at a different interest rate to your main mortgage.
Gazumping – what happens when you accept an offer on your property but then agree to accept a better offer from a different buyer. Provided the price changes before exchange (when a legal contract is created), this is perfectly legal. It was very common in the 1980s but largely died out. It tends to creep back in whenever house prices start rising rapidly.
Gazundering – the opposite of gazumping i.e. is when a buyer reduces their initial purchase offer on a property, before contracts have been exchanged. Much less common when the housing market is strong and prices are rising
Ground rent – a sum of money which has to be paid by a leaseholder to their landlord each year. The amount of ground rent will be stated in the lease. It could however be subject to change at certain intervals. Ground rent only applies if you have a leasehold property. Failure to pay ground rent can lead to forfeiture proceedings
Guide Price – an indication, often using in auctions, to provide an estimate of the likely sale price. Final offers can be under or over this figure. Be aware that some auctioneers set an unrealistically low guide price to attract interest in a property for sale
Help to Buy – a government scheme to assist first time buyers
HMO – House of Multiple Occupation. A single property with at least three people living together who are not from the same household and share certain facilities (a family counts as one household).
Indemnity Insurance – a policy taken out to give the owner insurance cover if problems should be discovered with the legal title e.g. a breach of covenant or there’s not enough evidence to confirm the building regulations approval.
Index Map Search – a search of the Land Registry records to identify if a particular piece of land is registered or unregistered.
Interest only mortgage – a loan where the borrower only pays the interest on the loan monthly rather than making a repayment of the capital amount as well as the interest every month – as distinct from a capital repayment mortgage (see above).
Instruction – this can mean either that a vendor has told an estate agent to put their property on the market or when you formally ask a solicitor to carry out your conveyancing
Japanese Knotweed – described by the Environmental Agency as “indisputably the UK’s most aggressive, destructive and invasive plant”. It can cause significant damage to property and is difficult and expensive to eradicate.
Click here to read more about Japanese Knotweed
Joint Agency – when you appoint two estate agents to sell your property
Joint and several liability – if a house or flat is owned by more than one person, they are all jointly liable for any payments due under a lease or in relation to the property. That means if one owner doesn’t pay, the whole of any sum due can be demanded from the remaining owner or owners.
Joint tenants – If a property is owned by two people who are “joint tenants”, this means that if one of them dies, their share in the property will pass to the surviving tenant. A joint tenancy trumps anything that is stated in a will.
Click here to read more about joint home ownership or joint property ownership disputes.
Land charges search – a check carried out by purchaser’s solicitor to make sure that the vendor is actually the legal owner of the property you are buying. It involves checking the ‘Title Register’ and ‘Title Plan’ at the Land Registry.
Land Option Agreement – a legal contract between a buyer and a seller giving the purchaser the right, but not the obligation, to buy a piece of land at a pre-agreed set price within a specific time period
Click here to read more about Land Option Agreements
Land Registry – the official body which keeps records of property ownership in England and Wales.
Land Registry Search – a search of all registered land to establish ownership and whether there are any outstanding loans on the property, or registered rights over the property
Land transaction tax – the equivalent of stamp duty in Wales
Lease – an agreement between a tenant and freeholder, setting out the deal for the occupation of a property, often for a specific duration or term.
Lease extension – the process by which owners of residential long leasehold flats can individually compel or negotiate an extension of their lease term with the freeholder.
Click here to read more about lease extension
Leasehold – the owner has the right to live in a property for the term given on the lease, but never becomes the owner of the land where their property stands. Click here to read more about buying a leasehold flat
Leaseholder – person or persons owning a leasehold property. It usually refers to ownership of what is called a long lease – originally granted for at least 20 years but typically for 99, 125 or 999 years.
Leasehold information form – a standard Law Society form used where the property involved is leasehold. Form TA7 asks a serious of questions specific to leasehold properties. The seller needs to complete this form in addition to the Property Information Form.
Legal charge – see mortgage
Lease options – see purchase lease options below
Legal pack – the set of documents prepared by the vendor’s solicitor if the property is to be sold at auction.
Click here to read more about auction conveyancing
Lender – the person or company lending money to a purchaser or owner. Usually a building society or bank
Lender’s Arrangement Fee – a fee charged by a lender to the purchaser for arranging a loan.
Lessee – another name for the leaseholder
Lessor – also known as a landlord – i.e. someone who grants a lease to another, who is known as the lessee
Licence to Alter – a legal document that gives permission to a leaseholder from a freeholder to make certain changes or alterations to the property. The licence outlines the terms of the changes and lays out the details for when and how those alterations may be made. Depending on the type of alteration, the content of the licence can vary in complexity
Licence to assign – this is the formal permission granted by the landlord to the leaseholder to buy the property’s leasehold.
Limited Title Guarantee – used where the seller of the property has no personal knowledge of the property – as is often the case when the sale is being made by the executor of an estate. The vendor is not guaranteeing whether or not there are any rights or covenants over the property because of their lack of knowledge.
Listed building – a property included on a list of buildings which are considered to have historic or architectural interest. Listed status can limit alterations to the building
Local Searches – your conveyancer will conduct searches at your local Council covering services and planning. This is done early on in the property purchase, and is designed to make you aware of any plans the Council might have which could affect your property once you’ve moved.
Lock out agreements – see reservation agreements below
Long lease – a residential lease originally granted for at least 21 years, but typically for 99, 125 or 999 years – as distinct from a short term tenancy .
LTV or Loan to Value – this refers to the % of a loan in comparison to the purchase price of a property
Managing Agents – a company appointed to manage the block of flats and collect service charges – and appointed by the freeholder, residents management company or right to manage company.
Mining search -a search carried out by your solicitor to check if there is any chance of mining activity having been carried out underneath the property you are looking to buy or in the nearby area. Most important in areas where there is current, or has been historic, coal mining. Intended to deal with the risk of subsidence
Modern Method of Auction – a variation on the traditional property auction, held online.
Click here to read more about the modern method of auction
Money Laundering Regulations – introduced by the Money Laundering Regulations Act 2002, these government rules mean lawyers are prevented from acting for people buying or selling property unless they satisfy the regulations. Regardless of who you are, your solicitor needs to stick to these rules – which means you will need to provide sufficient evidence of your identity and proof of any funds you’re using to buy property.
Mortgage – money given to you to buy a property, using that property are security. If you don’t pay, the lender usually has the right to sell the property.
Mortgage Indemnity Policy – A lender will take out this sort of policy to cover their losses if a property has to be repossessed. The insurer providing the policy usually has the right to try to recover any losses from the person taking out the mortgage.
Mortgage offer – this sets out the terms on which your mortgage lender is prepared to loan to you – will include the sum to be borrowed, the interest rate and the period of repayment
Mortgage redemption figure – the sum of money you will need to pay to your mortgage lender to repay the outstanding capital and interest of a loan when you clear the mortgage.
Mortgagee – the institution lender the money, which is usually a bank or building society. A mortgage is secured against the property.
Mortgagor – the person borrowing the money.
Multiple agency agreement – where you have three or more estate agents all acting for you in trying to sell your property at the same time
Negative equity – a situation where the amount of your mortgage or other loan on the house is more than the house is currently worth on the property market.
NHBC – abbreviation of National House Builders Council. They give a ten year guarantee and insurance protection on new build properties. Other similar insurance policies are available – but NHBC is probably the best known.
New build – where the property being bought or sold is a brand-new property
Click here to read more about new build conveyancing
Notice of transfer – some leases insist that anyone buying a long leasehold flat needs to inform the freeholder when the ownership of the flat changes. A notice of transfer to do so to do so is normally sent by the purchaser solicitor
Occupier’s Consent -a legal document signed by someone living in a property but not being the legal owner. Often required by a mortgage company, it provides the mortgage lender with an assurance that they can claim vacant possession – provided that all of those living in the house but not legal owner sign such a document.
Off plan – buying a property, based on plans, before it’s been built.
Office copies – this is the legal document which sets out ownership of your property. It is kept filed at the Land Registry. When conveyancing starts, your solicitor will ask for office copies to be sent to him or her.
OIEO – Offers in Excess Of – where the seller will only consider offers over a certain amount for their property.
OIRO – Offers in Region Of – where a firm price has not been set for a property, and there is only a guide price with offers considered both over and under this.
Open Market Value – the likely value of any particular property in the current housing market
Overage – an additional sum which may be due to the vendor after completion if a specified condition is satisfied e.g. grant of planning permission, or sale of properties subsequent built on that sold land
Park Homes – Park homes are constructed off-site and transported to mobile home parks. You don’t own the freehold to a park home – you own the home itself and usually rent the pitch on which it is based. As a result the process of buying a park home is quite different from conveyancing
Part Exchange – where one property is used as part payment for the purchase of a property, usually a new build
Participation Agreement – a formal document used in the enfranchisement process committing those involved to jointly buying the freehold of their block.
Click here to read more about the enfranchisement participation agreement
Party wall – a wall built on the property boundary which gives support to the structures on both sides of the boundary. can be the because of disputes between neighbours.
Click here to read more about party wall boundary disputes
PCM – Per Calendar Month
Peppercorn rent – a nominal rent amount, as little as £1, paid in order to form a legally binding lease contract.
Periodic Tenancy – a lease that runs from week to week, or month to month. As distinct from a fixed tenancy or a long leasehold (where the lease was originally granted for a minimum of 21 years). This includes a a fixed term tenancy that has expired without a new fixed term tenancy having been entered into
Private Road – a road that has not been taken over – or ‘adopted’ – by the local authority. Such roads are not maintained at public expense, and do not necessarily offer public access. Property owners will need preferably documented rights of access
Property Information Form (PIF) – officially known as form TA6, this is a series of questions which the seller must complete. It is part of the contract pack, and the purchaser is entitled to rely on the information contained in it. That means it must be accurately completed. It covers issues such as boundaries, any existing guarantees and information about work completed at the property.
Possessory title – a category of ownership where an owner is unable to provide documentary evidence of their title to the land or where someone has claimed ownership through adverse possession .
Click here to read about Selling Land With Possessory Title
Power of Attorney – a formal legal document under which a person can appoint someone else to act on their behalf. This can be achieved by a General Power of Attorney, Lasting Power of Attorney or Enduring Power of Attorney
Purchase lease option – a property investment strategy which provides investors with the opportunity of leasing a house or flat and generating income from a sublease, with the additional right, but not necessarily the obligation, to purchase the property at a later stage at a preagreed price. Also known as lease options.
Click here to read about the Purchase Lease Option
Purchaser – someone who buys a property
Quiet enjoyment – A covenant that provides a tenant or landowner with the right to the undisturbed use and enjoyment of property. Please note that courts routinely accept that any tenant has the right to quiet enjoyment of the leased premises regardless of whether the tenancy agreement contains such a covenant.
Radon Gas Search – an address search will tell you the estimated probability that an address is above the Action Level for radon – a radioactive gas, which can affect health.
Raising Enquiries – these are questions that are formally raised by your solicitor when purchasing property to make sure you know exactly what you’re buying.
Redemption – the act of paying off your mortgage.
Redemption penalty – a penalty payment charged under some loan agreements by a lender if a loan is paid off before the end of the term
Refinancing – moving your mortgage from one lender to another
Registered land – any piece of land for which the Land Registry holds details about its ownership.
Remortgaging – the process of clearing one mortgage with the proceeds from a fresh mortgage with the same or a different lender and using the same property as security.
Click here to read more about remortgage conveyancing
Rentcharge – a sum paid, usually annually, by a freehold homeowner to a third party who has no other legal interest in the land or property
Repayment Holiday – where your bank or lender agrees to let you stop making loan repayments for a short period of time
Repayment Mortgage – a loan where a share of both interest and capital debt is repaid by monthly installments. often referred to as a Capital and Interest Mortgage
Report on title – a summary your conveyancing solicitor will prepare following their investigation into the legal title of the property are hoping to buy. It’s very important that you both read this and understand it. If there is anything you don’t quite understand, make sure your solicitor explains to you
Repossession – the process whereby a mortgage company will take over possession of your property if you fail to keep up with your mortgage payments. This can lead to eviction and the subsequent forced sale of the property by the mortgage company. Sometimes referred to as ‘Repo’
Click here to read more about repossessed property conveyancing
Requisition on title – questions which the conveyancer might about the legal ownership of the property, and how that should be transferred.
Residents’ Management Company (or RMC) – a company set up by residents to manage a block of flats on behalf of the freeholder under the terms of the lease. Each leaseholder is usually a shareholder, with the RMC company often a party to the lease.
Click here to read about the Difference Between An RMC And Right To Manage Company
Residents’ Association – an informal representative body of flat owners and sometimes their tenants). It is fundamentally different from an Residents’ Management Company, even though its membership could be the same.
Reservation agreement – an agreement between a potential a buyer and seller under which the buyer reserves a property (so the seller doesn’t sell elsewhere) at a fixed price and for a fixed length of time. These agreements are broadly similar to options. Also known as property purchase reservation agreements, they usually relate to new builds. At the end of the exclusivity period, the seller is free to sell the property to someone else. A deposit from the purchaser is usually required – and this is normally non-refundable if the purchase doesn’t go through, subject to the terms of the particular agreement.
Reservation fee – a payment to a builder as deposit to reserve a property not yet built
Retention – any money which is held back when buying a new property until that property is fully completed.
Right of way – the legal right, established by use or grant, to travel over someone else’s land to get from one point to another.
Click here to read more about rights of way
Right to manage – the process under which the owners of residential long leasehold flats are legally entitled to come together to jointly take over responsibility for managing their block from their freeholder. This is carried out under an RTM or Right to Manage Company
Click here to read more about the right to manage
Sealed bids – where potential purchasers are asked to submit their offer for the property in a sealed envelope by a particular date. Each bidder has no idea how much other participants have bid. The highest bidder wins. See “best and final offers” above
Searches – standard questions carried out at the beginning of the conveyancing process for buyers by your solicitor to find out important information about the property. They include a local authority search, environmental search and drainage search. In some parts of the country there will also include more specialist searches – such as mining or radon gas searches
Section 13 notice – the formal notice which triggers the formal statutory collective enfranchisement process to buy the freehold of your block
Section 42 notice – the formal notice which starts the formal lease extension process.
Service Charge – money payable to a freeholder to cover maintenance and repairs to a property.
Shared driveway – either a drive owned equally by all those who use it or, alternatively, a private access road owned by one person with permission for others who need access to use it.
Shared Freehold – where some or all of the leaseholders in a block have come together to jointly purchase the freehold (see enfranchisement) – participating leaseholders will each hold a share of freehold
Shared ownership – a unique type of home ownership where you own part of the property and rent the rest. The other party is normally a Housing Association, and there is usually the option to increase your ownership share or by your property outright. It sometimes known as Shared equity” or“Part rent, part buy”
Click here to read more about Shared Ownership Conveyancing
Sinking Funds – monies collected from the leaseholders towards maintenance of the building, including “future major works”. These monies are held in trust, on behalf of the building, so that cash is available when any work is needed. Also known as Reserve Funds.
Click here to read more about leasehold property sinking funds
Snagging – checking a new build property for minor faults that need to be corrected corrected. Often contained in a “snagging list”
Sole Agent – where only one estate agent is responsible for selling a property
Staircasing – the process of increasing your ownership of the shared ownership property(see above) – usually through buying extra shares
Click here to read more about Staircasing
Stamp Duty – the government tax on the purchase of property. Sometimes referred to as SDLT (stamp duty land tax)
Standard Conditions of Sale – a set of standard terms produced by the Law Society and used in most, but not all, residential conveyancing transactions.
Standard Variable Rate – also referred to as SVR, this is the interest rate your mortgage company will charge on your loan when your mortgage product expires. It will almost certainly be more expensive than the rate you have been paying under your mortgage.
Statutory Lease Extension – the legal right of leaseholders to compel their freeholder to extend the lease on their property by an extra 90 years, under S42 of theLeasehold Reform Housing and Urban Development Act 1993 . This formal route is quite different from a voluntary or informal lease extension.
Click here to find out more about Statutory Lease Extensions
STC – Sold Subject to Contract ( see below).
STPP – subject to planning permission – see below
Structural survey – a report giving details about the essential structure of a property.
Subject to Contract – An agreement which has not yet become legally binding. In terms of property purchase, the deal is “subject to contract” until contracts are exchanged.
Subject to Planning Permission (STPP) – where a contract has been exchanged for the sale of land or property but only subject to the grant of planning permission. If planning permission is not granted, the purchaser is not committed to buy.
Subletting – when a tenant lets part or all of the property they are renting to someone else, the subtenant. Tenants must usually get permission from their landlord before subletting a property, otherwise legal action can be taken against them. If the property is mortgaged, then the lender’s approval will also be required
Subsidence – the vertical downward movement of the ground usually caused by poor construction or caused naturally
Survey – when you are buying a house or flat there are a number of different surveys you might consider – some are more detailed than others. The main surveys you will need to consider are the following:
- RICS Condition Report
- RICS HomeBuyer Report
- RICS Building Survey
- New-build snagging report
Telegraphic transfer (or TT) fee – the fee, often called CHAPS, which is charged by banks for the electronic transfer of money e.g. to redeem your current mortgage and send the purchase monies to the seller
Tenant – someone living in a property owned by a landlord.
Tenants in common – An arrangement made by two or more people who own a property. If one of them dies, their share of the property is passed on according to what their will says. If they haven’t made a will, the normal laws of intestacy apply.
Click here to read more about the difference between joint tenancy and tenants in common
Tenure – this refers to how property is held – freehold, leasehold or commonhold.
Term – any specified period of time, such as the period of time agreed for repayment of a mortgage, or the length of the lease.
Tin mining report – a search which is advisable in certain parts of the country, including parts of Cornwall and Devon, where tin and other metals have been mined for years. The search should establish whether the property has been affected by current or historic mining
Title – the ownership of a property.
Title deeds – the documents which prove your legal right or title to your property. They include conveyances, contracts for sale, mortgages and leases. You no longer need these title deeds to prove ownership if the property has been registered with the Land Registry.
Title plan – a plan held by the Land Registry showing the physical extent of any registered land
Title splits – technically title splits do what they say on the tin i.e. they split or divide the title deeds of one building or piece of land. As a result, there will be 2 or more separate properties with their own separate titles.
However when property investors refer to title splits they often mean something which is technically different – the division of a freehold building into a number of separate leasehold units.
Tracker Mortgage – a loan with a rate that moves up or down in line with either the lenders or the Bank of England’s own base interest rate
Transfer – the legal document for the exchange of ownership of the property. Also known as form TR1
Transfer of equity – where one or more of the existing legal owners agrees to transfer ownership of a part share in the property to another person. Commonly used for a transfer of the former matrimonial home following divorce
Tree Preservation Order – often referred to as a TPO, these are usually made by the local council to protect a specific tree or trees from any deliberate damage and destruction. This makes it a criminal offence to cut down, top, lop, uproot, or wilfully damage any specified trees without prior written consent from local council.
Tyneside Lease – a particular type of leasehold ownership where there are two maisonettes in the building. Also known as ‘criss-cross leases’ or ‘crossover leases.
Click here to read more about Tyneside Leases
Unadopted highway – a private road or path. It is not necessarily a road offering public access
Underlease – a lease which is not held directly from the freeholder, but from a tenant. This often arises when a tenant create a lease below their own existing lease. Many leases will not allow an underlease
Under offer – when an offer has been accepted, but exchange of contracts has not yet taken place
Unexpired term – the remaining term on a lease e.g. a lease originally granted for 125 years, will have an unexpired term of 100 years after 25 years
Unregistered land – land or property that is not yet been registered for the 1st time with the Land Registry. The title deeds (see above) will be required to prove ownership
Utilities – services provided to any property, including gas, electric, water, phone land line and internet.
Vacant possession – where a property is sold without any occupiers – and without any possessions belonging to the previous owner being left in the property
Valuation Survey – a mortgage lender will require this sort of survey to be done to assess the value of the property they are lending on
Variable interest rate – when the rate of interest on a loan is liable to changes over time which are broadly in line with general interest rates
Variation of a lease – when both landlord and tenant agree to adjust the terms of the lease to suit them both. Sometimes used where a lease is old-fashioned and largely out of date and doesn’t reflect the current situation accurately. It is possible to apply to the First-Tier Property Tribunal to vary any specific clause in the lease if they are completely impractical
Vendor – someone who sells a property
Verbal Offer – an offer made verbally by the potential buyer and not yet confirmed in writing.
Wayleaves – a personal contract under which the owner or occupier of land allows another to access their privately owned land to carry out specified activities in exchange for some form of compensation
Click here to find out more about the conveyancing process timeline