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Jargon-buster – Conveyancing & property law

Abstract title – a list of all documents that prove title to land.

Apportionment – the proportionate sum of money that a person must contribute or is entitled to receive.

Bankruptcy search – formal enquiry made by the buyer’s solicitor on behalf of the Lender to ensure that the buyer is not bankrupt.

Bridging loan – a loan taken out to “bridge the gap” whilst waiting for the sale of a property or the receipt of a mortgage.

Building regulation consent – approval by the Local Authority on the structural design and materials used in building works.

Capital gains tax – a tax on the sale of assets, including property.

Caveat Emptor – ‘buyer beware” which means the buyer must rely on his own investigations regarding the property.

Certificate of Title – a standard form required from the Solicitor by a mortgage lender prior to release of the mortgage loan.

Chain – a series of property transactions that are dependent on one another.

Coal mining search – a search required in certain areas to ascertain whether any such issues might affect a property.

Completion date – the date that a contract takes effect: vacant possession must be given, and ownership passes from seller to buyer.

Completion statement – a statement listing the sums being received and the payments required for completion of the transaction.

Conservation Area – an area protected by additional planning restrictions.

Contract – the agreement to buy and sell that sets out all of the terms. One copy is signed by the buyer and one by the seller. There is no binding agreement until Contracts are “exchanged”.

Contract Race – if a seller decides to deal with more than one prospective buyer (often with a view to exchanging contracts with whoever is ready first) there are strict rules to be followed by Solicitors in the cases.

Conflict of interest – where two parties have different interests, a solicitor cannot protect both, and therefore cannot act for both parties.

Conveyancing – the process by which the ownership of land is transferred from one person to another.

Convenant – a legal obligations attaching to land.

Deed – a formal document that must be signed executed and witnessed.

Defect in title – a flaw in the title to the property

Deposit – part of the purchase price (usually 10%) aid at exchange of Contracts.

Disbursements – items that the Conveyancer must pay to the other persons on your behalf, such as local search fees, Stamp Duty and Land Registry fees.

Easement – a right attaching to land over an adjoining property.

Exchange of contracts – the point at which the agreement to buy or sell becomes legally binding.

Fixtures and Fittings form – a list provided by the seller showing items to be either included or excluded from the sale.

Flying freehold – where part of one Freehold property is built over another.

Freehold – a type of title to a property that continues indefinitely.

Gazumping – when the seller sells to another buyer for a higher price, before the exchange of contracts.

Gazundering – when the buyer lowers his offer on the property after agreeing a price, before the exchange of contracts.

Ground rent – the annual charge made by the freeholder to the leaseholder for the right to occupy a property.

Indemnity Insurance – an insurance policy to cover a defect in the title, or some other legal deficiency with the property.

Joint Tenancy – one method of co-ownership, where upon death of one co-owner, the deceased’s share would pass automatically to the surviving owner.

Land Registry – the state department which records land that has a registered title.

Land registry search – searches made to check that no changes have been made to the Land Registry since the last official copies produced.

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

Leasehold – a right to have the property for a set period of time, known as “the term” of the Lease.

Listed Building – a building of historic or architectural interest, affected by special restrictions.

Local authority search – application made to the local authority for information that may affect a property. The search result should show such things as planning restrictions and whether the roads have been adopted 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.

Management company – company formed to manage a building subject to various leases.

Managing agents – firm employed by a landlord or management company to arrange practical maintenance and general management of a building.

Money Laundering Checks – identity checks that Solicitor’s must make before acting for a client.

Mortgage – securing a loan on a property.

NHBC – a warranty/insurance scheme for new build properties against major structural problems for 10 years.

Negative Equity – where the debts secured against a property exceed its market value.

Office copy entries – official copies of the Land Registry’s title for the property.

Planning permission – approval by the Local Authority for development or change of use of a property.

Preliminary enquiries – initial questions sent to the seller’s Conveyancer by the buyer’s Conveyancer.

Property Information Form – a standard questionnaire form completed by the seller.

Redemption – repayment of an existing mortgage.

Redemption Statement – the statement issued by the Lender specifying how much they require for dischargeing the mortgage.

Registered land – land to which the owner’s title is registered at the Land Registry.

Retention – money withheld until certain conditions are satisfied.

Service charge – payments under a Lease for maintenance and repairs to due to the Management Company or Landlord.

Stamp Duty Land Tax – A property tax paid by the buyer to HMRC, the amount varies according to the price of the property.

Survey – a report carried out by a surveyor on the apparent physical condition of the property.

Telegraphic transfer fee – a bank charge for sending funds for ‘same-day’ clearance.

Tenants in common – a method of co-owning property (as opposed to joint tenancy) whereby, upon the death of one of the co-owners, the deceased’s share does not pass automatically to the surviving owner.

Tenure – type of ownership: either freehold or leasehold.

Title deeds – the documents that show ownership of a property if the title has not yet been registered.

Transfer – the Deed which transfers the registered ownership of a property from the seller to the buyer.

Tree preservation order – an order made by a Local Planning Authority which prevents particular trees from being cut down or lopped without permission.

Vendor – seller.