My partner and I are looking to acquire a house in Oxfordshire and are in fact using a Oxfordshire conveyancing practice. Within the past 48 hours our conveyancer has forwarded the sale agreement to be signed with a detailed report in anticipation of exchanging contracts shortly. Halifax have this afternoon contacted us to inform me that they have now hit a problem as our Oxfordshire lawyer is not on their approved list of lawyers. Please explain?
When purchasing a property with mortgage finance it is normal for the purchasers' solicitors to also act for the purchaser's lender. In order to act for a bank or building society a law firm has to be on that lender's conveyancing panel. An application has to be made by the law firm to the lender to become a member of the lender's panel and there are increasingly strict criteria which the firm has to satisfy and indeed some lenders now require their panel members to be part of the Law Society’s Conveyancing Accreditation Scheme. Your solicitor should contact your mortgage company and see if they can apply for membership of their conveyancing panel, but if that is not viable they will instruct their own solicitors to act. You don't have to instruct a firm on the bank's conveyancing panel and you may continue to use your own Oxfordshire solicitors, in which case your legal fees may increase, and it will likely delay the transaction as you have another set of people involved.
I purchased a freehold property in Oxfordshire but nevertheless invoiced for rent, why is this and what is this?
It’s unusual for properties in Oxfordshire and has limited impact for conveyancing in Oxfordshire but some freehold properties in England (particularly common in North West England) pay an annual sum known as a Chief Rent or a Rentcharge to a third party who has no other legal interest in the land.
Rentcharge payments are usually between £2.00 and £5.00 per year. Rentcharges have existed for many centuries, but the Rent Charge Act 1977 barred the establishment of fresh rentcharges post 1977.
Old rentcharges can now be redeemed by making a lump sum payment under the Act. Any rentcharges that are still in existence in 2037 is to be dispensed with completely.
Should my conveyancer be making enquiries regarding flooding during the conveyancing in Oxfordshire.
Flooding is a growing risk for lawyers dealing with homes in Oxfordshire. There are those who purchase a house in Oxfordshire, fully expectant that at some time, it may be flooded. However, aside from the physical destruction, where a house is at risk of flooding, it may be difficult to get a mortgage, adequate building insurance, or dispose of the property. Steps can be carried out as part of the conveyancing process to forewarn the purchaser.
Conveyancers are not best placed to give advice on flood risk, but there are a various checks that can be undertaken by the buyer or by their lawyers which should figure out the risks in Oxfordshire. The standard information sent to a purchaser’s solicitor (where the Conveyancing Protocol is adopted) includes a standard question of the seller to discover if the premises has historically flooded. If the residence has been flooded in past and is not revealed by the seller, then a buyer may commence a legal claim for losses as a result of such an misleading response. The purchaser’s conveyancers should also order an enviro search. This should indicate whether there is any known flood risk. If so, further investigations should be conducted.
How does conveyancing in Oxfordshire differ for newly converted properties?
Most buyers of new build or newly converted property in Oxfordshire contact us having been asked by the seller to exchange contracts and commit to the purchase even before the property is completed. This is because builders in Oxfordshire typically buy the land, plan the estate and want to get the plots sold off as they are building the properties. Buyers, therefore, will have to exchange contracts without actually seeing the house they are buying. To reduce the chances of losing the property, buyers should instruct conveyancing solicitors as soon as the property is reserved and mortgage applications should be submitted quickly. Due to the fact that it could be several months and even years between exchange of contracts and completion, the mortgage offer may need to be extended. It would be wise to use a lawyer who specialises in new build conveyancing especially if they are used to new build conveyancing in Oxfordshire or who has acted in the same development.
I am a negotiator for a reputable estate agent office in Oxfordshire where we see a few flat sales derailed as a result of leases having less than 80 years remaining. I have been given conflicting advice from local Oxfordshire conveyancing solicitors. Can you shed some light as to whether the owner of a flat can start the lease extension formalities for the buyer?
As long as the seller has been the owner for at least 2 years it is possible, to serve a Section 42 notice to start the lease extension process and assign the benefit of the notice to the purchaser. This means that the buyer need not have to sit tight for 2 years to extend their lease. Both sets of lawyers will agree to form of assignment. The assignment has to be done before, or at the same time as completion of the sale.
An alternative approach is to extend the lease informally by agreement with the landlord either before or after the sale. If you are informally negotiating there are no rules and so you cannot insist on the landlord agreeing to grant an extension or transferring the benefit of an agreement to the buyer.
Leasehold Conveyancing in Oxfordshire - Sample of Queries Prior to buying
How long is the Lease? How much is the annual service fee and ground rent?