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Halifax Conveyancing Panel : Questions and Answers
My fiance and I are first time buyers. Within the 48 hours our property lawyer has forwarded the sale agreement to sign with a detailed report with the expectation that exchange is imminent. Halifax have this afternoon contacted us to advise us that they have now hit a problem as our lawyer is not on their approved list of lawyers. Please explain?
When purchasing a property with the benefit of a mortgage it is usual for the purchaser's 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 property lawyers should contact Halifax and see if they can apply for membership of the Halifax conveyancing panel, but if that is not viable Halifax will instruct their own lawyers to represent them. You are not legally obliged to appoint a law firm on the Halifax conveyancing panel as you are at liberty to use your preferred lawyers, in which case your legal fees may increase, and it will likely delay the transaction as you have another set of people involved.
Our lawyer has discovered a defect with the lease for the property we are buying. The seller’s lawyers have offered title insurance as a solution. We are content with insurance and will pay for it. Our lawyer has advised that as he is on the Halifax conveyancing panel he must ensure that the lender is happy with this solution. Who is the client here, us or Halifax?
The short answer to your last question is that, notwithstanding the potential for a conflict of interest, you and Halifax are the client. A precondition to being on the Halifax approved panel is to comply with the CML Handbook requirements (last updated for this lender on Halifax). The CML Handbook conditions require your lawyer to disclose issues such as defects will the lease so that Halifax can be afforded the opportunity to check with their valuer as to the extent that the value of the property is affected . Should you refuse to allow your lawyer to make the appropriate notification then your lawyer will have no choice but to discontinue acting for you.
Do all the licensed conveyancers and solicitor practices listed on your directory have online case tracking as I was under the impression that this was a precondition of being on the Halifax solicitor panel?
The Council of Mortgage Lenders or BSA do not require online case tracking. Some law firms operate such technology and some don't.
I was supposed to complete on my dream home last Thursday. My solicitor is on the Halifax solicitors panel but has moved offices in the past couple of months and had not advised Halifax of their new address. Halifax is now refusing to release my funds until such time as their systems are up to date with the correct details.
This is as unusual as it is unlucky. Most lender Terms of Conveyancing Panel Appointment specifically oblige the solicitor to inform the lender of an address change. Your solicitor needs to treat this with the utmost urgency. Do speak with or register your concern with the senior partner (assuming he or she is not your direct lawyer). Most lenders would be reasonable in this situation and expedite the resolution of this issue. It may be prudent to enlist the help of your local Halifax branch or your mortgage broker to see if they can help.
Can I be sure that the solicitor on the Halifax panel is any good?
Getting recommendations is a sensible start. Before you go ahead check if they offer a no sale no fee offer. Also you often get what you pay for - a firm which quotes more will often provide a better service than one which is cheap as chips. We would always advise that you speak with the lawyer conducting your transaction
I have agreed a price on a flat I spoke to a conveyancer previously used by my uncle and he recommended using a law firm approved by Halifax. The estate agent recommended two local firms so I asked Halifax if the 2 suggested solicitors are approved, which they are not. Halifax suggested that either firm can fill out the appropriate forms to become approved. Do I (1) save myself the aggravation and use one of Halifax 's conveyancing panel solicitors (2) Use the local solicitor and accept there may be delays etc as they go through the approval process.
Enquire of Halifax to suggest a law firm in your location. Most banks have lawyers on their panel throughout the UK. You can also use our search tool at the top of this page to search for a lawyer on the Halifax conveyancing panel based on location. If you particularly like the sound of one of the local lawyers that you have spoken to ask them if they would go onto Halifax conveyancing panel as it may only take about 2-3 weeks. As long as they meet Halifax’s requirements it can be a very simple job for the solicitor. Other stuff will be going on in parallel (as you are at an early stage) so it may not delay matters.
I can not work out if my mortgage offer requires a lease extension . I have called into my local branch Halifax on numerous occasions and was told they are content with the situation and they would lend. My solicitor - who is on the Halifax conveyancing panel- telephoned and was told not they would not lend in accordance with their CML Handbook minimum lease term requirements. Who do I believe?
As long as the conveyancer is on the Halifax panel she or he must comply with the CML Handbook requirements for Halifax. Unless your lawyer obtains specific confirmation in writing that Halifax will go ahead your lawyer has no choice but to refrain from exchanging contract and committing you to the purchase. We would suggest that you ask Halifax to contact your lawyer in writing confirming that they will accept the remaining number of years left on the lease.