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Conveyancing in London Q & A's

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By

Ask Lorraine a question lorraine@homewardlegal.co.uk

Updated: 21/10/17

Transport and public service information if you’re buying or selling residential property in London -

By road: North London is served by several major roads, including the M1, M4, M25, M11, A1(M), A2, A3, A4, A10, A12, A13, A20, A22, A40, A217, A316 and A406. By rail: As the capital, London has a number of rail hubs, including: Paddington, Marylebone, Euston, King’s Cross, St. Pancras International, Liverpool Street, Charing Cross, Blackfriars, Cannon Street, Stratford International, Victoria, Clapham Junction, Ealing Broadway, Waterloo, and London Bridge. By air: There are several local and international airports accessible from London, including: London Heliport (5 miles from Trafalgar Square), London City Airport (9), Northolt Jet Centre (14), Elstree Aerodrome and London Heathrow Airport (both 16 miles), London Biggin Hill Airport (18), London Gatwick Airport (28), Wycombe Air Park (33), London Luton Airport (35), TAG London Farnborough Airport (37), and London Stansted Airport (40).

Hospitals (selection): North Middlesex University, Sterling Way, London, N18 1QX Central and Northwest London, 7A Woodfield Road, London. W9 2NW University College London, 235 Euston Road, Fitzrovia, London, NW1 2BU Royal London, Whitechapel Road, Whitechapel, London, E1 1BB King’s College, Denmark Hill, Brixton, London, SE5 9RS Croydon University, 530 London Road, Croydon, CR7 7YE St. George’s, Blackshaw Road, London, SW17 0QT Royal Marsden, 203 Fulham Road, Chelsea, London, SW3 6JJ

Council: London Councils (www.londoncouncils.gov.uk).

Attractions: St. Paul’s Cathedral, Buckingham Palace, Tower Bridge, British Museum, National Gallery, London Zoo, London Eye, Natural History Museum, River Thames, The Monument, Tate Modern, Tower of London, Westminster Abbey, Globe Theatre, Churchill War Rooms, The South Bank, Victoria and Albert Museum, Houses of Parliament, London Dungeon, and Hyde Park.

Q.

We've had a conveyancing quote from you for the purchase of a flat in West London, which looks very reasonable, so are we likely to need to pay any extra fees?

No. Homeward Legal never hide any extra costs for the conveyancing transaction. Be aware that some firms only provide estimates disguised as quotes, with disbursements and other costs detailed in the small print. The final bill you receive may be much more than you thought you were going to pay. Homeward Legal’s quotes provide clear statements of the distinction of your legal fees and disbursements for a standard conveyancing transaction. Try our quote calculator, or call our team of conveyancing experts on 0800 038 6699 to discuss your needs.

Q.

Is contaminated land likely to be an issue in the Capital, and what investigations take place during the legal process?

Contaminated land is land containing substances that might endanger human health or the environment. When representing a home-buyer, a solicitor will carry out an environmental search that provides information on any noted contaminants in the area. It is quite possible to fail an Environmental Search and this may be due to the land being contaminated. In this case, details will be provided in the solicitor’s 'Report on Title'. Local councils are responsible for policing the law in relation to contaminated land. In practice, this means maintaining a strategy, identifying those responsible for contamination, and ensuring remedial procedures are carried out. Councils also keep a formal register of known contaminated plots, making the environmental search a simpler task.

Q.

We are moving from a house in Wimbledon to a flat north of the Thames and need to move quickly. How do we organise a fast exchange and completion?

The key to fast conveyancing is to instruct a proactive property lawyer, like the ones on Homeward Legal’s solicitor panel. They are picked because of their ability to take control of the communication throughout the property chain. And they are supported by leading-edge case-management systems, which are integrated with the various authorities involved in any move, thus speeding up the fact-finding considerably. Try our quote calculator or call Homeward Legal on 0800 038 6699. In addition to this crucial element, there are various jobs you, as the buyer, can do to speed up the process, such as:

  • requesting regular updates from your property lawyer and keeping the pressure on
  • quickly answering your property lawyer's questions
  • filling in any forms and returning them swiftly
  • ordering a property survey early in the transaction
Q.

There are several useful manuals about doing the legal work yourself (or 'DIY Conveyancing'), but do I actually need a conveyancing solicitor in selling my Baron’s Court property?

Technically there is no reason why you can’t complete the bulk of the conveyancing yourself. The truth is, however, that a solicitor juggles a large number of tasks and jobs (ranging from chasing outstanding papers to registering the new title owner), all of which require experience. In addition, legal practices are obligated to possess the appropriate insurance to insulate you in the event of negligence. Naturally, as a panel of solicitors, Homeward Legal would be expected to recommend that you use our services. But when you consider that the whole process can be completed for a few hundred pounds, the risks and time involved in carrying out a technical and unfamiliar process yourself, DIY conveyancing is extremely unlikely to pay dividends. Give our team of experts a call on 0800 038 6699 to discuss your needs and to obtain your fixed-fee quote.

Q.

Are the costs for obtaining planning permission copies fees or disbursements?

If the solicitor has to spend time chasing and obtaining planning information, this may be charged as a fee. Some local authorities will charge for the supply of specific planning documents and these will be passed on to you at cost (i.e. as disbursements). Fees and disbursements should be clearly identified on your conveyancing quote, with no additional charges of any kind in the small print. Homeward legal always include all fees and known disbursements in the Conveyancing Quote. Any unforeseen disbursements will be brought to your attention as soon as they become known.

Q.

With the increased use of the Thames Flood Barrier and the Met Office warning of more intense rainfall in the future, is the historical data thorough enough to predict flood-risk to a London property?

Your solicitor will conduct an environmental search as part of the standard conveyancing package, and this will include an assessment of the risk of flooding in London where you are buying your property. If the results indicate that the risk is too high, a more detailed and inexpensive (around £20) flood search can be ordered. If you are still concerned, speak to a local resident or a regional flood-damage-repair specialist for more information, such as: The Revival Co., 105 Amblecote Road, London, SE12 9TR Tel: 020 8851 6454.

Q.

We need to move into our Lambeth house within six weeks, but how long will the conveyancing take?

Six weeks is not an impossible timeframe to work to. The average time (estimated) for the conveyancing to complete is around eight weeks, so six weeks is well within the range. However, there are numerous factors, predictable or not, that can draw out the process. Our advice is to call us on 0800 038 6699 so we can assess the specifics, and give you a better idea of whether your preferred timeframe is achievable or not. In any event, make sure you instruct a solicitor as soon as possible, and quickly complete and return all forms and paperwork. If you are selling a property, make sure you supply all requested documentation as quickly as is practical. Finally, choose a solicitor that uses the fastest means of communication available (i.e. email rather than posting letters).

Q.

Would a residential property's ‘fixtures and fittings’ form include things such as cupboards?

Generally, fixtures are attached to walls, floors or ceilings, and fittings are easier to detach or remove. Early agreement of a list of fixtures and fittings will avoid later disputes, confirming what will be sold with the property.

Q.

I've had a conveyancing quote from you. May we need to pay any hidden fees?

A.

We never hide any hidden extra fees for any reason. Our quotes offer an single, accurate price.

Q.

When is it appropriate to instruct a conveyancing solicitor?

A.

In the majority of situations, instructing as soon as possible is wise. Instructing a solicitor early for a sale can mean that documents can be prepared earlier, considerably accelerating the whole process, whereas if you are buying you can shave days off the process by having the details of your instructed solicitor ready when you make an offer.

Q.

Why does conveyancing often taken so long?

A.

The legal work needed to sell or purchase a home can be complex, and be drawn out and delayed for many reasons. Homeward Legal aim to reduce the effect of any delays by proactively pushing all parties involved to move faster, wherever possible. There are numerous reasons for delay, such as difficulties with mortgage finance, delays in the receipt of managing agent information, or slow responses to specific additional enquiries.

Q.

Which local authority is responsible for London ?

A.

Ordinarily, when asked this question we would provide as close to a definitive answer as possible, including departmental contact details, because buyers are keen to ascertain the local authority responsible for their planned purchase.

However, such a list for the whole capital is beyond the scope of this short Q and A. London is covered by a large number of Inner London councils (Camden, Greenwich, Hackney, Hammersmith and Fulham, Islington. Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea, Lambeth, Lewisham, Southwark, Tower Hamlets, Wandsworth and Westminster.) and outer London Boroughs (Barking and Dagenham, Barnet, Bexley, Brent, Bromley, Croydon, Ealing, Enfield, Haringey, Harrow, Havering, Hillingdon, Hounslow, Kingston upon Thames, Merton, Newham, Redbridge, Richmond upon Thames, Sutton and Waltham Forest).

Once instructed on a home purchase, your solicitor will immediately identify the correct Local Authority in order to submit necessary searches of the area. You can also identify the local council, if you have the full postcode of the property, here: https://www.gov.uk/find-your-local-council

Q.

Is contaminated land an issue in the Capital and what investigations occur during the legal process?

A.

Contaminated land is land containing substances that might endanger human health or the environment.

When representing a home buyer, a solicitor will carry out an environmental search which will provide information on any contaminated land. It is possible to fail an Environmental Search and this may be due to the land being contaminated. If this happens, then details will be reported in the 'Report on Title'.

Local councils are responsible for policing the law in relation to contaminated land. In practice this means maintaining a strategy, identifying those responsible for contamination, and ensuring remedial procedures are carried out. Councils also keep a formal register of known contaminated plots.

Q.

Please advise how to bypass paying stamp duty to HM Revenue?

A.

Stamp duty avoidance should be treated with extreme caution. These schemes are often uneconomical and , if the scheme fails, you may be charged a penalty of up to 100% of the stamp duty amount owed. There have been a range of legal initiatives, such as disadvantaged area relief. A conveyancing solicitor should confirm whether you are eligible.

Q.

Should I employ the property solicitor suggested by our estate agent in London?

A.

An agent will be able to influence a conveyancing solicitor they refer many clients to, and can therefore exert pressure on your behalf. If the agent is paid a referral fee, however, it may be the case that the agent recommends the solicitor willing to pay the highest referral fee, not the law firm with the best reputation.