• FAQs and Terms of Engagement

    Outline of a typical transaction

    The seller must find a buyer. The seller’s solicitor obtains the title deeds and prepares a contract which is submitted to the buyer’s solicitor. The buyer’s solicitor will examine the draft contract and supporting documentation to ensure it meets the buyer’s requirements and perhaps more importantly, those of any lender.  The buyer’s solicitor makes a number of searches and enquiries with the object of finding out all he can about the property.   If the buyer is taking a mortgage the buyer must arrange this.   Both parties then enter into a formal contract to buy/sell the property.  The buyer’s solicitor prepares the purchase deed.   The final stage is completion.   This is completion of the terms of the contract.   The buyer pays for the property and the seller hands over the keys and the deeds for the property.    After  completion  the  transaction  is  registered  at  the  Land  Registry.     If the buyer has had a mortgage the deeds may be required by the lender as security for the loan. Otherwise the buyer should hold the deeds following completion.

    Answers to Frequently asked question when Buying and/or Selling a House.

    “What does exchange of contracts mean?”

    This is when a legal relationship is created between the Seller and Buyer, often referred to as the “point of no return” i.e. it is not easy to change your mind.   Until such either party can withdrawn from the transaction with out penalty.   Therefore we can only exchange contracts when we consider that the title of the property is satisfactory.     It is reaching this point which takes the longest.   However we cannot proceed at the expense of the necessary paperwork which must be in place and you will have to be patient.  Prior to exchange of contracts either party may withdraw from the transaction without penalty.   Following exchange a legal relationship has been created and parties who withdraw face severe financial penalties.

    “What does completion mean?”

    Completion means completion of the terms of the Contract .i.e. the day when the buyer pays for the property, the seller vacates the property and keys change hands.  As this requires a bank transfer of fund this must be a working day e.g. not a Saturday or a Sunday.

    “How long is there between exchange and completion?”

    We recommend a period of ten working days between exchange and completion otherwise this will incur additional work in trying to comply with a possibly unrealistic completion date for which we reserve the right to charge for.  Similarly further charges may also be made for additional work following last minute cancellation of completion e.g. Rearranging completion; Returning mortgage funds; obtaining further redemption statements. This will be a minimum of £50. plus VAT per property.

    “What are Enquiries Before Contract?”

    The Buyer’s lawyer makes a number of enquiries regarding the legal title of the property to ensure that all the requirements of  the Lender are met and to ensure that no problems will occur on a re-sale.

    “When and What time do I get the keys?”

    On completion. The exact time depends on when the property is vacated and the time the telegraphic transfer of money takes place – therefore, do not expect to receive the keys prior to 3pm on the day of completion!!!!  Electronic Transfer of funds between Banks.  This may take several hours to be processed by a Bank and is beyond our control.

    “When should I contact you for an update?”

    We aim to keep clients informed of developments.   Weekly updates should be adequate.   Please note that contacting us on a daily basis or more frequently will increase the time taken to deal with your transaction.   We give an estimate at the outset of the transaction.    This is calculated on the basis of receiving a maximum of 8 emails/visits/telephone calls from or on behalf of you.  Each additional email/telephone call/visit will be charged for at a rate of £75. plus VAT per hour or part thereof.

    “When do I hand the keys over?”

    Do not hand over keys until we say it is safe to do so.

    “Where do I get the keys from?”

    Usually from the Estate Agent or direct from the Seller.    Make arrangements at least two or three days prior to completion.

    “What are searches?”

    Searches are submitted to find information about the property.  A plan is required to submit searches.  Results disclose information about the property which may materially affect the value of the property; make the property un-saleable; affect your willingness to proceed; etc.

    Searches submitted as standard are Local Search and Coal Report. Please advise us in writing if additional searches are required and we shall inform you of the cost of the additional search (payment will be required from you to enable us to order the search).

    Coal Report – reveals whether or not the property is built on a coal mining shaft and other information;

    Local Search – reveals information held by the Council about the subject property being bought e.g. new roads, planning history.  If you are concerned about possible development in the surrounding area you should make enquiries of the local planning authority.

    We advise that the following additional further searches should be obtained –

    Environmental Disclosure Report reveals information about historical land contamination and other information.  We recommend that an Environmental Disclosure Search and Insurance for possible land “clean-up” costs.

    Chancel Report – submitted to enquire if a property is required to contribute towards repairs to the chancel of the local parish church. Such liability is enforceable in the County Court, and can apply to properties falling within a Church of England parish which has a vicar or had a vicarage and has a church dating from the medieval period or earlier.

    Flood Report – reveals information about flooding; flood risk assessment; coastal erosion etc

    Drainage Search – reveals whether the property is connected to mains drainage and to the mains water supply;

    If you require any of these additional searches (Environmental; Chancel; Flood; Drainage) you must state which you require in writing and supply a cheque payable to Alfred Ledger & Sons for £500. in respect of fees/charges relating to obtaining same.

    “I can’t find my ground rent receipt, what should I do?”

    If you are unable to produce a receipt in respect of the last demand for ground rent an allowance will be made on completion in respect of unpaid ground rent (maximum six years). In addition, absent landlord insurance may be required which will cost you a further, approximately, £75. to £100.  Such monies will be deducted from the proceeds of sale.  We recommend that you contact the ground rent collector (who may make a charge) and obtain a receipt.   Our charges for obtaining a receipt on your behalf are £75. plus VAT.

    “What is planning permission and/or buildings regulations approval Title Insurance?”

    The effect of such a policy though is purely to protect you against enforcement action being taken by the Local Authority in certain circumstances. It does not provide cover for any structural failing in the property. Cover can also be withdrawn with some policies in the event that enforcement action is taken consequent upon discovery of infringements as a result of inspections for new alterations. It must be remembered also that a prior approach to the Local Council may disqualify a subsequent application for insurance.

    “Should I have a survey?”

    Yes – the property is sold as seen.  We advise that you have a Home Buyers Survey and Valuation Report or building survey of the property carried out by a suitably qualified surveyor and have the services (e.g. Gas supply, electrical supply, drains and central heating system etc) inspected by qualified experts.   We further recommend that prior to exchange of contracts that you obtain reports and estimates for any matters disclosed/revealed by your surveyor(s) or expert(s). Please supply a copy of the mortgage valuation and/or Building Survey as soon as possible.

    Please bear in mind that trees can have an adverse effect on foundations and drainage systems.   If trees are in close proximity to the property we advise that you should obtain the expert opinion of a Tree Surgeon/Structural Surveyor for advice regarding this.

    “Do I see you on the day of completion?”

    Normally all outstanding points will have been dealt with and it will not be necessary to attend our offices on the day of completion.

    “When will my first mortgage payment be?”

    Please contact your Building Society/Bank to enquire when and how much the first payment will be.

    “How long does the whole process take?”

    An average uncomplicated case may take six weeks or longer from issue of contract documentation and issue of formal offer of mortgage.  However, as no two properties are the same, this may vary from several weeks to several months.

    “Who arranges a completion date?”

    This is arranged by negotiation between clients/estate agents/solicitors.   However there is no point trying to arrange a completion date until all the lawyers in the chain have confirmed that they are in a position to proceed.

    “What happens to deeds after completion?”

    If you are having a mortgage, the lender may want to hold these as security for the loan.   However some pre-registration deeds may not be required by the lender and you will asked to collect them from our office following completion.  These may be required when you sell the property.  Keep them safe.

    “When do I cancel my mortgage payment?”

    After completion, not before.

    “When do I receive the sale proceeds?”

    As soon as practically possible following completion.   Generally issued by cheque the one or two working day following completion.

    “What is Good Leasehold Title Insurance and/or Absent Landlord Insurance?”

    Following amendments to the Council of Mortgage Lender’s Handbook in 1999 many of the properties in this area are no longer considered acceptable security for a mortgage e.g. Leasehold Properties and properties where the ground rent collector is absent.  In such cases insurance may be required to proceed.    The cost varies from approx. £50. upwards depending on the sale price and other variables.   If this is required it will cost you approx. £50. to £150. and will be deducted from the proceeds of sale.

    “What is the difference between ‘Joint Tenants’ and ‘Tenants in Common’?”

    Briefly, when two or more people own property there are two ways the property may be held –

    Joint Tenants – means that on death the remaining owner(s) will own the property.   Also the property cannot be left to a third party under a will.

    Tenants in Common – this means the owners can hold the property in equal or unequal shares and on the death of a co-owner his share will pass to his next of kin, or, under the provisions of any will he or she has made.

    “Do you advise on Tax Implications?”

    No, we advise you to consult a qualified accountant for advice regarding the possible tax consequences of a proposed transaction.

    DOs and DON’Ts

    Do be patient.

    Do not pay money direct to the person selling the property.   This will cause complications with regard to your mortgage.

    Don’t hand the keys over for your house unless we say it is safe to do so.

    Don’t try to arrange a completion date without confirmation from us that we are in a position to proceed.

    Do give us at least 10 working days notice of a proposed completion date. Failure to do so incurs additional work which we reserve the right to charge a minimum of £50. + VAT per property.

    If you are in rented accommodation Do Not give notice to quit to your landlord unless we have stated it is safe to do so – otherwise YOU may be making yourself homeless.

    Do contact the seller of the property to discuss keys; telephone numbers, burglar alarm codes; gas suppliers, electricity suppliers.

    Do read all of your mortgage offer and ensure that you have complied with all requirements.

    If you are Buying DO arrange for your Buildings Insurance to commence on exchange of contracts.  We are often required to supply Buildings Insurance Details to your lender prior to completion.   Therefore ensure that these meet all the requirements of your lender and supply this information to us at least two weeks prior to completion, otherwise delays may occur.

    If you are selling ensure your Buildings Insurance remains in force up to and including the date of completion.

    Other points to note.

    The person dealing with your transaction is also dealing with other complicated matters which require their full attention and will not always be available when you contact us.   Therefore, if available, another member of staff will try to deal with your enquiry.   If this is not possible the person dealing with your transaction or a member of staff will contact you to deal with your enquiry, usually on the same working day or within a working day or two.

    Please do not contact us on an hourly basis (or more frequently) as this will only cause delays as we will be taken off work we are currently dealing with to answer your enquiry.   Remember, once we are in a position to proceed we will contact you.

    As there may be several individuals in a chain, a completion date must be agreed by all parties.   There is no point trying to impose a completion date on another party.

    The Solicitor or Licensed Conveyancer of another party (e.g. of your Buyer or Seller) is professionally barred from speaking to you.

    Please note that the firm, as a whole, is dealing with you’re the transaction, and every attempt will be made by our company to keep you informed, as necessary, as to progress being made.

    Interviews are arranged by appointment and lengthy enquiries cannot and will not be dealt with over the telephone.

    We care about our staff and will not tolerate verbal abuse or harassment of our staff.   Please note that our staff have been authorised to end telephone calls if they are verbally abused or if they feel threatened.

    TERMS OF ENGAGEMENT 11.2012

    The aim of this document is to set out the terms and principles when acting for our clients and to summarise the conditions on which we accepts client’s instructions.

    Costs

    We are aware that our charges will be an important consideration for you. It is not always possible to give an accurate indication of how much a particular matter will cost. However, at the beginning of every new matter we will send you a Client Care letter giving you as clear an idea as possible of the likely cost.   Our fees (to which V.A.T. must be added at the current rate) are usually calculated on the time we spend dealing with a matter.   In addition, we take into account such factors as the complexity of the work, any specialised knowledge or extra responsibility; the value of the property concerned; where you require the matter to be dealt with more quickly than normal  –  all such matters may require amendment of the fee first estimated.  We try to give an accurate indication of disbursements payable at the outset of a transaction.   We will inform you of any significant additional disbursements when they arise.

    An estimated or standard charge may be made in respect of expenses which are more difficult to quantify e.g. telephone calls or postage. By notifying us in writing you may set a limit on our charges, which may not be exceeded without your authority. It is our practice to ask our clients for money on account of charges and disbursements – mainly disbursements. Disbursements are expenses which we incur on your behalf, such as Local Authority Search fee.   This money will be requested when the matter begins.

    If any matter we are undertaking for you does not proceed or instructions are withdrawn from us we shall charge for the work done up to that point.

    Our charges are based on the assumption the our Invoices will be settled on presentation and we will charge interest on the outstanding sum  from the date of presentation at the same rate as the Courts allow in respect of outstanding judgements if an invoice is not settled within 7 days of presentation.

    If you require us to contact a party (e.g. Solicitor, Lawyer, Estate Agents etc) to progress a matter, where in our professional opinion we consider it is inappropriate to do, we reserve the right to charge you additionally for the time taken to deal with your request at a rate of £150 plus VAT per hour or part thereof.

    Our invoices will set out our charges calculated in the manner specified in the Client Care Letter, to which any disbursements and VAT are added. If you wish to have a detailed narrative of the work carried out it can be prepared but there will be an additional charge for preparing it.  It is our usual practice not to carry out further work for the client until the Invoice is fully paid.

    Some matters may take several months to complete.   In relevant cases we will render interim accounts on a monthly basis unless we have reached an alternative agreement with you.

    If asked to give an undertaking to enable your transaction to proceed (e.g. to pay money to a third party or for costs) we will require appropriate security from you before such undertaking is given.  We reserve the right to charge for providing this personal commitment.   We will, as necessary, inform you of the security required and of our associated charges.

    Fees and disbursements must be paid and cleared before the completion date.  We reserve the right to delay completion of your transaction until all disbursements have been paid in full and cleared.  If we hold funds belonging to you we will deduct payment of our bill prior to making payment to you.   By accepting these terms you agree to this.

    On very rare occasions it may be necessary to inspect the property.  Our Inspection fee is a minimum of £100. plus VAT

    Our charges for obtaining documents required to enable the transaction to proceed are £50. plus vat in respect of each document.

    Our charges for serving Leasehold  Notice of Transfer and/or Charge are £50. plus VAT.

    During the course of your transaction we may expect to receive or pay a commission or other benefit due to your introduction to us or from introducing you to another person or company.   Where clients are introduced to the Practice by a third party we reserve the right to pay a fee not exceeding £100. Plus VAT for that introduction to the introducer. This does not affect our ability to act with independence and integrity or maintain high standards of work or prevent us to act in the best interest of our clients.  In accepting these terms you give your consent for us to pay or retain such fee, commission or benefit.

    Who will do your work

    At the outset of each matter we will let you know in writing who will be dealing with your file.   Any subsequent changes of personnel will be notified to you.   We are committed to providing all our clients with a service of the highest quality.   To ensure an effective service we have a Complaints Procedure to attempt to resolve any difficulties which may arise.    Details of whom to contact in the first place should you encounter problems are set out in the Client Care Letter.    The partners of our firm are always pleased to discuss any suggestions you may have for improvement of our services.   If ultimately you feel that your complaint has not been resolved satisfactorily you may write to the Legal Ombudsman at P.O.Box 6806, Wolverhampton, WV1 9WJ.  If you make a valid claim against us for a loss arising out of work for which we are legally responsible, and we are unable to meet our liability in full, you may be entitled to claim from the Compensation Fund administered by the Council for Licensed Conveyancers (from whom details can be obtained).

    Interest if we are holding your money

    Monies held on behalf of client will be held in our client account.   Interest that accrues, or ought to accrue thereon will be retained by us.   If however we consider it fair and/or appropriate to make payment to you for interest on monies held by us we reserve the right to charge a fee for such calculations.   This will be a minimum of £50. plus VAT.

    Where we receive money from you to pass to a third party

    In many cases we shall be requesting funds from our clients to pass on to a third party.   For example, we may be completing the purchase of a house or settling a debt.   We shall only accept cheques from clients unless we have made prior written arrangements to accept cash (£500. maximum on any one transaction).   Please note that our Bank will need at least 10 working days to clear a cheque regardless of whether or not it is a personal cheque, bank draft or Building Society cheque. Please note cheques should be made payable to “Alfred Ledger & Sons”.  We require cleared funds from you a minimum of two working days prior to the completion date.  We do not accept monies payable by third parties unless we are told in advance who those parties are and have the opportunity of confirming the payment with such third party – our charges in respect thereof for each payment will be £50. plus VAT.  Under no circumstances should you pay cash into our bank account.  If you do we will charge you an administration fee of 1% of the amount paid subject to a minimum fee of £100. plus VAT in respect of administration charges relating thereto.  This will be payable before we finalise/complete your matter.

    Time needed for legal completion

    We require a period of ten working days between exchange of contracts and completion as this is the shortest amount of time required without making special arrangements to deal with all pre-completion searches and formalities. Otherwise we reserve the right to make an additional charge for trying to comply with a possibly unrealistic completion date.  Similarly further charges may also be made for additional work following last minute cancellation of completion e.g. rearranging completion; returning mortgage funds; obtaining further redemption statements. This will be a minimum of £100. plus VAT at current rates per property.  Provided we have used reasonable skill in attempting to complete on your requested date we will not be liable for any loss arising from a delay in completion.

    We request that mortgagees (e.g. Banks, Building Societies, lending institutions) supply us with cleared funds one or two working days prior to completion to ensure funds are in place.   Please be aware that interest due from you will probably be calculated from the date funds are released to us.

    Mortgage Lenders

    If you require a mortgage we will explain to you your liability to your lender.   However it is your responsibility to comply with the terms and conditions of the mortgage lender’s offer.  By signing the mortgage deed it is assumed that you have understood and accepted the mortgage offer and all conditions therein.

    If your mortgage lender chooses a different firm to deal with its legal work the lender will require that you pay that firm for work carried out by them.   These charges will be in addition to our charges.  We reserve the right to charge you a reasonable fee for additional work associated with dealing with a separate firm appointed to act on behalf of your mortgage lender. If you have or are taking a mortgage with an endowment policy we may be required to arrange a mortgage of the policy or re-assignment of an old policy and/or prepare and issue relevant notices – we reserve the right to charge you a reasonable fee for doing so.

    When we act for two or more people

    When we act for more than one person e.g. business partners, or a couple jointly buying a house, we will assume that just one of them instructing us to take a particular step has the authority to do so.

    Acting for Buyer and Seller of the same Property

    We are only able to act for the Buyer and the Seller of the same Property whilst there is no conflict of interest.   Therefore if a conflict of interest arises between the Buyer and the Seller we are obliged to cease acting for both parties.  That is, we will no longer be able to represent either party.

    When we pay money to you

    In many cases we will be requested to pay funds to our client e.g. property sale proceeds.  As we do not keep cash on the premises money due to you will paid by bank transfer or in the form of a cheque only.   Please note cheques will only be issued (on production of satisfactory evidence of identification) to our client and not to third parties. Cheques will be issued as soon as practicable – normally not earlier than the next working day following completion).   We will be unable to pay to you sale monies unless we hold up to date loan/mortgage repayments figures.

    Storage of your file or other documents

    Once the matter is completed the file will be stored free of charge for the period required by the Council for Licensed Conveyancers.   We cannot accept telephone instructions to send documents to a third party.   We charge a fee of £50. plus VAT per annum or part thereof for the storage of Pre-registration deeds not required by lenders. Our charges for retrieving your file from our archives are £75. plus VAT.  If you require the file it will be necessary for us to retain a copy of the entire file.  Our charges for copying the file, payable by you, are £0.25 per copy per page.

    When we can be contacted

    Our normal contactable hours when we are open to the public are from 9.30am to 1.00pm and from 2.00pm to 5.00pm Monday to Friday (excluding Public Holidays).  We close between Christmas and New Year.

    Where some-one else has agreed to pay our costs

    It is a term of business that you will be responsible for all our costs in respect of your matter even if a third party may ultimately be paying part or all of them.    We will therefore look to you for payment of our account in accordance with these terms of business if the third party has not discharged his obligation to pay or contribute.

    Companies

    If we are acting for a Company it is a condition of our accepting instructions that the Directors of the Company are jointly liable for our costs.   We reserve the right to ask the Directors to sign a form of agreement to cover this obligation. Please note that we require identification and proof of address of all those who own 25% or more of the structure and of those who exercise effective management and control of the Company.

    Financial Conduct Authority

    This firm is not authorised by the Financial Conduct Authority.   However, we are included in the register maintained by the Financial Conduct Authority so that we can carry on Insurance Mediation Activities, which is broadly advising on, selling and administration of insurance contracts.   This part of our business, including arrangements for complaints or redress if something goes wrong, is regulated by the Council for Licensed Conveyancers.   The register can be accessed via the Financial Conduct Authority website at ‘www.FCA.org.uk/register’.   Our charges for arranging each title insurance policy are £50 plus VAT.

    To help your transaction progress smoothly and to keep down costs payable by you, you understand and agree to inform us of any specific requirements you have or of any significant change;

    1.  to provide evidence of your identity; national insurance number and proof of your address when requested;

    2. not to contact us to request progress reports more frequently than is reasonable (we consider weekly reports are sufficient);

    3. reply in writing when requested to do so;

    4. to us communicating with you or third parties by the method (including e-mail)  we consider most appropriate;

    5. to receive money due to you in the form of a single cheque and to pay our reasonable charges in respect of meeting your alternative requirements.

    6. that you are aware of our duties to comply with the Money Laundering Regulations 2007; Money Laundering (Amendment) Regulations 2012; Proceeds of Crime 2002; and our obligation to report matters to the Serious and Organised Crime Agency;

    7. that proceeds of sale or re-mortgage are paid to clients no sooner that the next working day following completion.

    8. to pay our administration fee of £50. plus VAT in respect of each letter it is necessary to mail by Recorded Delivery or Special Delivery plus the fee charged by Royal Mail.