Home Move FAQ and Jargon Buster

Here you will find frequently asked questions and explanations of some of the jargon and legal language associated with the home moving process.

Many law firms will only choose to order Property Searches once they’ve heard back from the seller’s solicitors. But we recognise that waiting for the seller’s solicitor response can cost us valuable time – whether that’s just a day or whether it’s a week, it still adds up. That’s why Brevis orders your Property Searches, where possible, as soon as you’ve completed our sign up process (which by the way only takes a matter of hours and can be fully completed in the comfort of your living room on a mobile phone).

We receive a number of reports within a matter of days. We will review these right away providing you with a guide which highlights some parts of these Reports which might of particular interest to you. We will also share these Reports with you and it is important for you to thoroughly read these for yourself. Please don’t rely solely on our guide as you may miss some factors which are important to you.

A Priority Search is high on the list of importance when buying a property. Once you have committed to buy the property (exchanged contracts) you wouldn’t want anyone else moving the goalposts.

This is where a Priority Search comes in. It’s a request to the Land Registry for an official copy of the title to the property you are buying and is usually done last minute before getting the keys (completion). This is because it ensures and guarantees that no changes are made to that property title while the formalities of the purchase are being wrapped up.

Owning property in this way, each person owns the entire property. This means that if one owner were to die, then the surviving owner would own the property entirely. This approach is common for people who want to leave the property to each other after they die and many married people hold their property in this way.

A Will stating otherwise would not be able to override this because the property will have transferred to the survivor before a Will would come into effect. Only the survivor’s Will would then be considered as to who receives a share of the property on their death. This can mean that children from a previous relationship, will not inherit a share of the property, unless the survivor has also included them in their Will.”

Owning property in this way, each person has a share in the property. That share can be split equally (for example 50/50), or it can be split unequally (for example 75/25). You may choose to unequally split the share in the property if, for example, one person has contributed more towards the home buy than the other person.

This way also allows each person to prepare a Will deciding to leave their share in the property to someone other than the surviving co-owner. For example, leaving the share to children from a previous relationship.

You would need a formal document known as a “Declaration of Trust” in order to register your interests in the property under a Tenancy in Common. We are able to prepare this for you and there is an additional fee for this work.”

Although in some cases such as new developments with common areas or private roads, there could be estate charges attached to a freehold property, they are not usually subject to additional fees or charges other than your usual council tax, household bills and payments to a mortgage if you have one.

Leasehold properties often carry obligations to pay service charges to a management company, and in a number of cases also ground rent to a landlord. There are also possible additional costs and legal fees if you were to apply to extend a lease down the line once you have bought the property.

Service charges, sometimes known as Estate charges are fees payable to a management company who look after the common areas around your property. If you own an apartment or flat for example, this would pay for upkeep of the lobbies and stairwells as well as any communal gardens and other common areas around your building. Some housing estates also have service charges (sometimes called estate charges) for things like maintenance of unadopted roads and pavements (where the local authority is not responsible for looking after them), play or recreation areas, grass mowing and hedge trimming on common open areas on housing estates.

Service charges are often, but not always associated with leasehold properties, where they may also be charged alongside ground rent, but this is not always the case. Many housing estates with estate or services charges are made up of freehold properties, and as a result do not benefit from the same rights and protections as for leasehold properties, so estate charges can potentially be or become expensive.

Ground rent is an ongoing cost, usually charged to the owner of a leasehold property and paid to the landlord under the terms of a lease. It can sometimes be referred to a chief rent.

Sometimes ground rent may be referred to as a ‘peppercorn’ rent which usually means that it is such a small or nominal value that in practice it is never actually demanded by the landlord, but this will not always be the case. Generally a demand for a monetary ground rent is legally required to be paid. It may also be reviewed and increased under the terms of the agreement.
Failing to pay could mean the landlord reclaims the property for failing to adhere to the agreement.

You should always refer to the lease and any other related agreements to confirm what applies to the specific property you are buying. This information will be obtained from the seller or one of the other organisations involved in ownership of the property.

Please note that all information provided in this FAQ is for general reference only. It should not be used as a sole or definitive source, nor is it intended to be used for decision making in place of appropriate advice from a qualified legal professional. As such the information is provided as-is and Brevis cannot accept any responsibility or liability for any loss or damage resulting from any errors or ommission in, or any reliance on, information contained in this guide.