Conveyancing Jargon Buster

Clarkson Hirst Solicitors

The definition set out below does not pretend to be a comprehensive guide to Land Law and you should take legal advice on the terminology. This document is intended to provide you with a brief understanding.

Attorney – A Power of Attorney is a Deed under which somebody appoints somebody else to carry out certain actions on his or her behalf. This could include signing documents to sell land. Care should always be taken to ensure the Power is sufficient to cover the sale of land.

Building Regulation Control – Building Regulation consent from the Local Authority will be needed whenever building works are to be undertaken, irrespective of whether the works constitute “development” within the statutory definition, or whether they require separate planning permission. Building regulation control is concerned with Health & Safety aspects of the building to be erected or altered and regulates the type of materials and construction methods used in carrying out the work. If a purchase of buyers of property, where there has been a breach of building regulation control, there is no guarantee of the safety of the structure of the building which may therefore require extensive repairs or remedial work. Penalties can be imposed for breach of building regulation control.

Buyer – This usually denotes the person or company who is purchasing the property.

Capital Gains Tax – On sale of property, tax maybe payable on the proceeds of sale. This can apply particularly but not exclusively to buy to let properties. You should take specialist advice from an Accountant on capital gains tax implications of your sale.

Coal Mining Search – This search should be made whenever the property is situated in an area where there are or have in the past been Coal Mining operations.

Completion – This is the day the land and property is paid for and the purchasing party usually has the right to move into the land and property.

Conservation Areas – The local Planning Authority may designate as a conversation area any part of the area which is of special architectural or historic interest, the character or appearance of which is desirable to preserve or enhance. As a general rule any non listed building in a conversation area must not be demolished without conservation area consent. There may also be other restrictions on development.

Contract – This refers to a legally binding document that binds the seller and buyer to sell and buy the land and property. The contract is intended to define the extent of the land to be sold and set out the terms in which the seller is prepared to sell it. This will include the price payable, the amount of the deposit and what fixtures and fittings are included in the sale. If one parties breaches the contract they will be liable to pay damages to the other party. Legal advice should always be sought on the terms of the contract.

Conveyance – This is an old word for a document that transfers the ownership of land from one person to another.

Co-ownership – Co-ownership arises where two or more people buy land or property together.

Deeds – This refers to historic documentation which created a legal estate or interest in land.

Deposit – The buyer will usually be required to pay a deposit of 10% of the purchase price on exchange of contract. If the buyer does not proceed with the transaction in breach of contract then, the seller may keep the deposit.

Enquiries of the Local Authority – Within the common term Local Search includes making enquiries with the Local Authority. These reveal the following.

  • Whether the road serving the property are maintained at the public expense.
  • Roads and railways proposed within 200 metres of the property.
  • Planning applications made.
  • Enforcement and Stop Notices served and whether they have been complied with.
  • Proposed Enforcement and Stop Notices.
  • Proposed Tree Preservation Orders.
  • Proposed Restriction on permitted development.
  • Proposed Compulsory Purchase Orders.
  • Whether any Notices have been served in relation to remediation of contaminated land.
  • Whether the property is crossed by a public path or bridleway.
  • Whether there are any proposals for permanently stopping up roads or footpaths or putting any other traffic schemes in operation, for example, one way streets, parking restrictions.
  • Whether radon gas precautions are required for new dwellings.

Environmental issues – The responsibility for polluting substances on land rests on the owner or occupier for the time being of the land. The presence of contaminates in land can have very serious consequences on a sale. The site maybe blighted making it difficult to sell or mortgage the land. The owner maybe required by the Environment Agency to clean up the site so that it is suitable for its intended use.

Environmental Search – An environmental search will provide information gathered by Landmark Information Group as to whether there is any record of land being contaminated. Ultimately only a site survey will determine whether land is actually contaminated.

Exchange of Contracts – This refers to the Solicitors for the parties using a Law Society agreed formula to formalise the parties entering into a contractual commitment to buy and sell the land and property. When contracts are exchanged it is usual for a date to be agreed for completion.

Fittings – Fittings for example carpets and curtains do not form part of the land and are generally not included as part of the property on the sale of the land unless they are included in the contract for sale.

Fixtures – Fixtures are generally items which are attached to and form part of the land for example, fitted wardrobes.

Joint Tenants – This is a form of co-ownership where if one co-owner dies the surviving co-owner will remain the sole owner of the land and property.

Land Registry – The Land Registry is a Government department which records who owns land and who has interest in land. Usually it is a legal requirement to record your ownership of land after you have purchase it.

Lease – This refers to a legal document that grants one party the right to occupy another parties land and property for a term of a stated amount of years or months and usually provides for the payment of rent and obligations to repair and maintain the land and building.

Listed Buildings – Where it is considered that a building is of outstanding, historic or architectural interest the Secretary of State may list it. The effect of listing depends on which grade of listing is given. Parts only of the building maybe subject to listing. The consequences of listing are principally that tighter controls are exercised over development than is the case with an unlisted building and that, in general exemptions from development do not apply. Listed buildings consent must be obtained for development affecting such a building.

Local Land Charges Search – A search would reveal entries kept by the Council including

  • Financial charges for example for road works.
  • Tree Preservation Orders. These prevent the protected trees being felled without permission.
  • Smoke Control Orders. These restrict the use of non smokeless fuels in domestic fireplaces.
  • Some Compulsory Purchase Orders.
  • Planning Permissions granted.
  • Any restrictions on permitted development.
  • Orders revoking or modifying Planning Permissions.

Mortgage – This is a document that creates a legal interest in land, usually for the benefit of a lender. Commonly a mortgage is used by a lender to create an interest for their benefit in land and property so that they have security for money they have lent to the owner of the land and property.

The usual terms of a mortgage will include a right to the lender to sue for repayment of the debt and the right to repossess the property if the loan is not paid on time.

Occupiers – These are persons who occupy the land being sold and it is wise to ensure they sign the contract to agree to vacate on completion.

Planning – planning issues usually refer to the local Planning authority who are responsible for Town & Country planning within the area where the land is situated. The local Planning Authority is responsible for granting planning permission for development of the land and change of use.

Restrictive Covenant – A restrictive covenant is a promise made in a legal document. For example, where B buys part of S’s land and promises not to build more than one house on that land. Subject to certain legal rules, the benefit of covenants and the obligation to comply with them will pass from one owner to the next owner. Restrictive covenants can limit the use you put land to and you should take legal advice in relation to them.

Rights of Way – This usually refers to the right to one land owner to use the land of another in some way. For example, a right to use a roadway or a right to use a sewer pipe.

Searches – Your Solicitor will recommend searches which normally include a Local Search, Drainage Search, Environmental Search, Land Registry search and a Bankruptcy Search.

Seller – This denotes the person or company who is selling the property.

Tenants in Common – This is where each co-owner will own a share in the land and property and if one co-owner dies, their share will pass through the inheritance rules or their Will to a beneficiary and will not pass automatically to their co-owner. This refers to the level of ownership the Seller enjoys over the land they are selling

Title – Upon the registration of the land with the Land Registry, the State guarantees the title and compensation is payable in certain circumstances where there is a defect found in the registered title. There are four classes of title which are available from the Land Registry

They are Absolute Title, which in effect means the title is a near perfect as it can be, subject to what is recorded on the register.

Possessory Title – Possessory title would be granted where the applicant is in possession of the land but does not have a record that they are the owner of the land.

Qualified Title – In practice this is very rate. It is granted by the Land Registry where the title is defective and the State guarantee of title does not apply to the specified defect.

Good Leasehold Title – This refers to Land Registry records in relation to properties that are Leasehold. These titles are granted where the Land Registry has no evidence of the ownership of the Freehold or superior Leasehold title. This often occurs when the Freehold is not registered and the Land Registry cannot guarantee that the Landlord had the right to grant the Lease.

Transfer – This is a legal document that transfers the ownership of land and property from one party to another.

Trusts of land – This is where one person owns land for the benefit of another. This includes a situation where a land owner is named as the owner at the Land Registry but, in fact owns the land for the benefit of other persons..

Undertaking – This is a promise to do something by a Solicitor on your behalf. If a Solicitor gives an Undertaking, they are professionally bound to honour the Undertaking. Failure to honour an Undertaking is professional misconduct and the Solicitor could be penalised.

Water and Drainage Enquiries – A search is made of the local Water Authority to establish the following

  • Whether the property has sewer drainage to the public sewer.
  • Whether the property has surface water drainage to the public sewer.
  • Whether there is a water main within the boundaries of the property.
  • Whether the property is connected to the public water supply.