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Legal Glossary

Below is a glossary of the most commonly used words in conveyancing so that you don’t get confused with all the legal terminology which we know can be difficult to grasp.

Abstract Title

A list of all documents that prove title to land.

Assign

To transfer the right or interest in a property from one person to another.

Assignee

The person to whom the right or interest of property is transferred.

Assignor

The person who transfers a right or interest of property to another person.

Banker’s Draft

A cheque drawn directly from a bank’s funds, and not from an individual’s account.

Beneficial Owner

The person or people who are entitled to receive the proceeds of a sale.

Breach of Contract

Where one of the parties bound by a contract fails to keep to the contract’s terms and conditions.

Building Regulations

Approval Consent required from the local authority for certain works undertaken at a property.

Certificate or Report on Title

A standard form used by solicitors to request the mortgage or loan funds from the lender.

Completion Statement


A list of all the financial aspects of a transaction. Produced by a solicitor, it sets the costs against the money being received and shows whether money needs to be paid to the client or whether a shortfall needs to be made up before completion.

Charge

A loan that is secured against land or property.

Contract


A written and signed agreement between seller and buyer.

Conveyancer


A person qualified to undertake conveyancing. Either a solicitor, licensed conveyancer or Legal Executives.

Client Account

A solicitor’s bank account where a client’s money is held.

Conveyancing


The term used to describe the legal process of transferring a property from one owner to the next.

Covenant


An agreement contained within a contract or a deed that binds somebody to do something or not to something.

Completion Date

The date that a contract takes effect and property ownership passes from seller to buyer.

Contract Race


When a seller deals with more than one prospective buyer and exchanges contracts with whichever is ready first.

Deed

Formal document that is executed by a formally witnessed signature.

Deposit

The amount of money paid by the buyer on exchange of contracts, typically 10% of the purchase price.

Disbursements

Fees paid by the buyers solicitor on his or her behalf, which include stamp duty, land registry and search fees.

Easement

A right granted over a property or land e.g. a right of way.

EnergyPerformance Certificate (EPC)


This is a new type of survey that assesses the energy efficiency of a property along with the environmental impact based on its CO2 emissions.

Environmental Report

A report on the land uses of a property and its surroundings now and in the past. This will indicate the likelihood of contamination or pollution.

Exchange of Contracts

The point at which the signed contracts to buy and sell are exchanged along with your deposit, to legally commit the buyer and seller to the transaction, at the price and terms agreed.

Fixtures and Fittings

Fixtures are items that have become part of a building or land and are therefore included in the sale. Fittings are not attached to the building or land and so are not included in the sale unless otherwise agreed. The seller will complete a fixtures and fittings form that will confirm what is included in the sale, what isn’t included, and what is for sale separately.

Freehold

When a property belongs entirely to the owner (subject to any mortgage or lease granted).

Ground Rent

Is the charge paid to the Landlord, usually on an annual basis, and fixed by the Lease terms.

Indemnity Insurance

Insurance against any aspect of a property transaction such as an adverse search result or breach of planning/building regulations. This will not solve any problems but it will provide compensation.

Joint Tenants

Where a property is purchased under joint tenancy. Normally used for husband and wife purchases because if one of the owners dies then his/her share will automatically pass to the survivor. Also see tenants in common.

Land Registry

The Government department responsible for registering ownership of land.

Lease

For a leasehold property, this document sets out the terms of occupation between landlord and tenant.

Leasehold

Owning a property for a fixed term but not the land on which it stands.

Local Authority

Search Application made to the Local Authority for information that may affect a property. The search results will show entries such as planning restrictions and whether the roads have been adopted and are maintained by the Council.

Maintenance Charge

An amount paid by a leaseholder as a contribution to the cost of maintaining and repairing the structure of the building and its insurance. Can be paid to a landlord, managing agent or management company. Also known as service charge.

Mortgage


Loan secured against a property.

Management Company

Company formed to manage obligations of a lease such as insurance and repairs.

Mortgagee


The mortgage lender e.g. a bank or building society.

Managing Agents

Firm employed by a landlord or management company to arrange practical maintenance and general management of a building.

Mortgagor


Mortgage borrower.

NHBC

National House Builder Council. The NHBC provide a ten year insurance policy on the main structure of new properties.

Official Copies

Certified copies of entries on a register title, provided by the Land Registry.

Planning Permission

Official consent/approval from a Local Authority for works undertaken on a property.

Property Information Form (PIF)

Also known as a Protocol Form the PIF is provided by the seller's solicitor and is completed by the seller. It forms part of the conveyancing process and covers such matters as boundaries, services, guarantees for work carried out and planning consents.

Purchaser

Buyer.

Redemption

Retention

Where a mortgage lender retains part of a loan, pending satisfactory completion of specified works.

Restrictive Covenants

See FAQ.

Subject to Contract

Negotiations between a buyer and seller before exchange of contracts. Any agreement is not binding until contracts are exchanged.

Stamp Duty Land Tax (SDLT)

Tax payable to HM Revenue & Customs when a purchase price is more than £125,000 or more than £250,000 for first time buyers.

Service Charge

Amount paid by a leaseholder as a contribution to the cost of maintaining and repairing the structure of a building and its insurance. Can be paid to a landlord, managing agent or management company. Also known as maintenance charge.

Telegraphic Transfer

The electronic transfer of funds from one bank account to another.

Transfer Deed


Land Registry deed transferring ownership to a buyer. This will be prepared by the buyer’s solicitor.

Tenant

A person who pays rent for the use of property or land.

Tenants in Common

Tenants in common are treated as having a separate, distinctive share which will not automatically pass to the other person upon death but will instead go to his or her next of kin or to whoever it has been left to if there is a will. In these cases, it is usual to have a form Deed between the parties to set out their wishes

Tenure

The type of ownership, either freehold or leasehold.

Underlease

A further lease of whole or part of a property granted by an existing tenant.

Vendor

Seller.