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ConsumerUK Guide



Purchasing a house – useful tips


Although your building society will carry out a “valuation”, this is not a full survey and it may be worth thinking about having a full structural survey carried out depending on the age of the property. Although a seller has a duty to disclose anything about the property, it may be that the seller would not be aware of this, ie woodworm and a full survey would show up such matters and if necessary a price renegotiation can be made.

If a survey is carried out and reveals an issue, it is usually possible to contact the Estate Agent to see if the seller would either pay for the work to be carried out, re-negotiate the price or give the buyer an allowance to cover the costs of the works so that the buyer can have the work carried out themselves, depending on whether or not this would affect the amount being requested for the mortgage (if applicable) and whether a “retention” would be held by the mortgage lender until the works are carried out.
Fixtures and fittings
A list of the fixtures and fittings in the property will be made out by the sellers. It is important that you ensure that any items being left are in good working order, and whether there are any guarantees and supporting documentation for them. This is particularly important for burglar alarms.
Fixtures and fittings can be used to apportion the purchase price, (ie £x for the 
property and £x for fixtures and fittings to avoid paying a higher rate of stamp duty).
Below is a list of those items that can and cannot be used in the assessment of stamp duty:
Things that can be taken into account;
Curtains and blinds, free standing furniture, kitchen white goods, electric and gas fires (provided that they can be removed by disconnection from the power supply without causing damage to the property), light shades and fittings (unless recessed).
Things that cannot be taken into account
Fitted kitchen units, cupboards and sinks, Agas and wall mounted ovens, fitted bathroom sanitary ware, central heating systems, intruder alarm systems.
Externally, any plants, shrubs or trees growing in the soil which forms part of the land, are not to be regarded as chattels.  
A deduction would, however, be appropriate for amounts properly apportioned to any plants growing in pots or containers.
How to hold
There are three general ways in which a property can be held by more than one 
the property person. These are Joint Tenants, Tenants in Common in Equal Shares and Tenants in Common in unequal shares.
Joint Tenants
This is where the legal owners are also the beneficial owners. On the death of one owner, their interest would automatically pass to the surviving owner on the title.
Tenants in Common in equal shares
This is where the legal owners are also the beneficial owners however their equal share in the property would not automatically pass to the surviving owner but would be passed in accordance with their will (or rules of intestacy if no will has been made).
Tenants in Common in unequal shares
This is where the legal owners are also the beneficial owners but not in equal shares. A Trust Deed has to be drawn up to set out the terms of the beneficial ownership, most commonly done where one owner has put in more money. The Deed would set out the specific amounts to be repaid to that owner on a sale or a percentage of the equity in the property and so on.
If a service agreement has not been kept up with the central heating, it is wise to get the heating system checked out prior to exchange of contracts as there is no recourse to the Seller once contracts have been exchanged. A Corgi Registered Engineer can do this for you but you would normally have to pay the costs of such inspection.
Although it is expected that Rent is payable with a leasehold property, there are Properties where service charges are payable, particular with a flat or where there are common parts used by several owners. These service charges are usually paid in advance by estimated accounts and any balance would be payable at the end of the Landlords’ financial year.  Sometimes there is also a “Reserve Fund” which collects extra funds for large expenditure items that may be forthcoming and again, these are usually payable in advance on a monthly basis.
There are also charges for Notices which have to be given to the Landlord on a change of ownership and the cost of such can be stated in the lease, but they could have increased. 
On selling a leasehold property, a Landlord’s information is requested and it is the sellers’ responsibility to pay for these.  This pack would include insurance details, three years accounts and various other necessary information. The costs of this information pack can be quite expensive.
Planning & Building Regulation
Although everyone is aware that planning and/or Building Regulation Consent is Covenants required for additions and alterations to the property, including extensions, there may also be a covenant in the title documents whereby consent would be needed by the original builders. The Solicitors would check this out when you are buying a property, but you should bear this in mind for the future. Problems sometimes occur when a property is being sold, an extension/addition or alteration has been made to the property and this consent was not obtained. There is usually a charge for such consent, but this is normally reasonable. Some small extensions do not require Planning and/or Building Regulation Consent (known as “permitted developments”), ie small conservatories, porches etc but the Consent under the title documents would still be necessary.





Whilst every effort is made to ensure that the legal information contained on “consumeruk” is accurate, it does not constitute legal advice tailored to your individual circumstances. If you act upon it, you acknowledge that you do so at your own risk. Neither the Proprietor nor Dean Dunham can assume responsibility and do not accept liability for any damage or loss which may arise as a result of your reliance upon it.


Last updated 14.07.2014

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