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When you are selling a house it involves more than just choosing an estate agent, staging your home ready for sale and finding the right buyer. You also need to make sure you have the right documentation at the right point in the process to ensure a smooth and legally sound transaction. In this article, […]
21 December 2023
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When you are selling a house it involves more than just choosing an estate agent, staging your home ready for sale and finding the right buyer. You also need to make sure you have the right documentation at the right point in the process to ensure a smooth and legally sound transaction. In this article, we’ll list all the documents you need to have in order before handing over the keys.
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To kickstart the selling process, as a seller, you are responsible for providing proof of identity for legal and security reasons, as proof that you are who you say you are and live where you say you live. Estate agents, conveyancers and mortgage lenders ar required by law to check your identity. This usually includes a valid passport, driving license, another form of government-issued photo ID or a utility bill that is no more than 3 months old.
The backbone of any property transaction, title deeds from the Land Registry establish your legal ownership. These documents detail property boundaries, rights of way, and any restrictions affecting the property. You may already have a copy of these, or be able to get one from your mortgage provider or the solicitor who you bought the house with. If you cannot locate a copy and the house was sold after 1990, you can request a copy yourself from the Land Registry for as little as £3 or your conveyancer will be able to get a copy from the Land Registry. If you bought the property before 1990 (when property registration became compulsory in England and Wales) a copy of your title deeds may not be held by the Land Registry.
If you can’t get a copy at all, you will then need to apply for a Title Absolute from the Land Registry, which is a detailed process to identify that you are the legal owner of your home, have had possession for an unbroken 15 years and that you have a right to the freehold and the structures on the property. This all takes time, so be sure to try to locate your title deeds as early as you can in the sales process. Your conveyancer should be able to assist with determining if a Title Absolute is necessary.
The TA10 form sets out what is included in the sale, from furniture and light fittings to the garden shed. This form outlines exactly what items will be included or excluded from the sale. It helps prevent misunderstandings between buyer and seller about which fixtures, fittings, and appliances will remain in the property. This form sets out a clear and transparent transaction between you and the buyer by letting them know what is included in the property price. This in turn will prevent unnecessary delays further down the line for minor queries, and reduce the risk of the buyer pulling out.
A TA6 form is a comprehensive questionnaire covering various aspects of the property. It includes information about boundaries, disputes with neighbours, proposals for development, warranties, environmental matters, insurance, condition of things such as the boiler, alterations, any occupiers of the property, moving details and more. Completing this form is a legal requirement.
An EPC is a mandatory document detailing a property’s energy efficiency and its CO2 impact, that is valid for 10 years. If you don’t know if you have a valid EPC, you can check on the Government website. If you don’t have a valid EPC, you will need to appoint a qualified assessor to perform an inspection and provide an EPC report, which provides potential buyers with insights into the property’s environmental impact and energy costs.
If you live in Scotland, you’ll require a Home Report, which needs to have been produced within the last 10 weeks (Unless your property has been continuously marketed since a valid one was last issued or is a new build or converted property that hasn’t been lived in since being built or converted)
For Freehold properties, you will need to provide a copy of the freehold documentation. For leasehold properties, sellers must provide information on the terms and conditions of the lease, service charges, ground rent, plans for major works and any assessments (e.g. fire risk). This pack ensures transparency for prospective buyers. It may be that you need to request this information from your management company or leaseholder, so be sure to allow enough time to get hold of it. Your solicitor will also contact your freeholder and/or management company to obtain the leasehold information pack from them.
If you still have an outstanding mortgage on the property, you’ll need to provide details of your mortgage lender, account number, and the amount outstanding. You will also need to find out if there are any charges registered to your property, which can be found on your title deeds.
You are not legally obliged to provide a gas safety certificate when selling a property, but given they only cost around £65, it can be a good way to avoid any potentially difficult conversations with buyers, especially if your boiler is old, as they provide written proof the boiler is safe. It is also wise to have proof that your boiler has been regularly serviced. For rental properties, you will need to show a gas safety check has been undertaken in the last 12 months, as it is a legal requirement for properties with gas appliances. It confirms that all gas fittings and appliances are safe and comply with regulations.
For newly constructed properties, include any warranties provided by the builder. These documents reassure buyers about the quality of construction and potential defects.
Before selling your home, you should ensure your property’s electrical systems meet safety standards by providing certificates from qualified electricians. If you have altered any wiring since 2005, you will need to provide a ‘Part P Building Regulation Certificate’, to show that the work carried out meets electrical standards. This documentation is crucial for the buyer’s peace of mind. If you haven’t carried out any work since 2005, you do not need to provide anything in terms of certification.
If your property has replacement windows or doors installed, a FENSA certificate confirms that these installations comply with building regulations and a certificate is usually valid for 10 years.
Include documentation related to any past alterations or extensions, confirming that you obtained the necessary planning permission and building regulation approvals. If you didn’t apply for building regs approval for the work before, you can apply for ‘regularisation’, which is retrospective approval.
Collate documents related to guarantees and warranties for work carried out on the property. This might include roofing guarantees, damp-proofing warranties, or guarantees for appliances or even outside work, such as Japanese Knotweed removal.
In cases where a property has potential legal issues, indemnity insurance policies provide protection. Common scenarios include missing building regulation certificates or rights of way.
Selling a house involves getting the relevant documentation in order as early as possible, ensuring transparency and legal compliance. By having these essential documents in order, you can not only speed up the selling process but also build trust with potential buyers.
From mortgages and insurance to viewings, offers, exchange and completion, our Buyers’ Guide will take you through everything, step by step, from start to finish.
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