Having dealt with a range of residential purchase transactions, I have seen many pitfalls, and problems that can arise. Most issues can be resolved, however some can derail a property transaction. Many of these pitfalls can be spotted early on and your Solicitor would consider taking appropriate steps, to minimise risk and exposure.
The issues may include:
- Lack of planning and building regulations approvals
Missing permissions for planning and building regulation approvals could mean that works already carried out are unauthorised, and may even be unsafe. Purchasing a property with missing permissions, may result also in a loss of value. You may even have to pay to reverse the works, so that they are brought to current building regulation standards. An indemnity policy is possibly a solution, but it does not confirm the quality of the work that has been done.
Listed buildings also have their own unique requirements. Beware that when the building is listed there is no time limit for enforcing planning breaches, and a planning breach could lead to a criminal prosecution.
Make sure you advise your Solicitor of any works that you are aware of that have been carried out at the property so full investigations can be carried out, as well as detailing any works that you wish to carry out.
Your Solicitor will help you identify issues and help you work out a solution.
- Investigate the local area for planned or potential developments
When a Local Authority Search is carried out, it is specific for that property. Information is not always provided on neighbouring properties. To some degree, your Solicitor will obtain information from the Seller’s Solicitors regarding any information their client holds regarding neighbouring properties. In addition to that you can check with the relevant Council departments for information.
If there is any concern you have regarding a neighbouring property, do tell your Solicitor at an early stage.
- Trees and Shrubs
Some trees in the UK are legally protected, which means you will need the Council’s permission to lop or prune or remove them. The Local Search results obtained by your Solicitor should show if there are any Tree Preservation Orders in place.
Large Tree near the property can potentially cause subsidence, and you should advise your Solicitors of any such trees that are near, or within the boundary of the property.
Your Surveyor will look for signs of Japanese knotweed during their survey. If found, they will include it in their report and advise you to seek the help of a specialist. The presence of Japanese Knotweed plants can affect the property and potentially your mortgage offer.
- Lease Term
If you are buying a flat or other leasehold Property, the unexpired length of the term of the Lease needs to be carefully checked, If the term drops below 80 years, this can cause problems and affect your any mortgage offer.
A shorter lese term may not satisfy lender requirements, and could cause difficulties in regards to selling the property in the future. Some lenders now even require a minimum unexpired lease term of 95 years. Each lender will have a different requirement.
- Service charge demands for Major Works
If you are buying a flat or maisonette, enquiries need to be raised regarding anticipated service charges that you will be required to pay. There could be major works to the block that could include roof repairs, or refurbishments that could run into thousands of pounds. The cost of these works can be on top of your usual annual service charge, especially if there is no sinking fund held by the Management Company or Landlord
It is important that your solicitor carefully investigates if any major works are planned in the near future two years. It can also be a factor for having to renegotiate the price, or that the Seller’s Solicitor holds a retention for a period of time to cover any costs incurred, but not yet invoiced.
There are a variety of complex issues that can arise in property transactions, the above are only a few examples of problems that you may encounter. A decisive and skilled Property Solicitor will navigate you through your transaction.
At Edwards Duthie Shamash, we can expertly guide you on all your Residential Property needs. Please contact Daveena Seepaul, Head of Residential Property for any assistance.