Glossary of Terms


This is a legal document that transfers the legal ownership of a property following the death of the owner. An Assent can only be used where the property is left to a specific person or persons in a will or if the deceased owner did not have a will and it therefore is to be passed to the next of kin.

Bankruptcy Search

This is part of the pre-completion searches and is sometimes referred to as a Land Charges Search. If you are having a mortgage, it is usually a condition of the mortgage lender to carry our Bankruptcy Searches on you as a buyer to make sure that there are no other charges registered with Land Registry that the bank has not been made aware of.

Breach of Contract

Upon exchange of contracts the transaction becomes legally binding. If either party pulls out of the transaction after this date and the matter does not proceed to completion, then that party becomes in breach of contract. The non-defaulting party is then entitled to sue under the terms of the contract for the non-performance. Fortunately, this is a very rare occurrence, and we hope that none of our clients ever have to deal with this one.

Building Insurance

Under the current conditions of a sale, upon exchange of contracts it becomes the buyer’s responsibility to insure the property. That means that before exchange can take place, we need to make sure that buildings insurance is in place. It must be sufficient to cover the rebuild cost of the entire property as if you are having a mortgage this will be one of the conditions on which the money is lent to you.

Caveat Emptor

This is a Latin term used in conveyancing and translates to “let the buyer beware”. This means that it is the buyer’s responsibility to carry out any checks on the property to ensure the condition of the property is suitable. This takes the responsibility away from the seller.


This is a term that is used for a series of transactions that are linked to one and other. Usually all of the transactions will need to exchange and complete on the same day, meaning that the longer the chain is, the more people have to agree to the completion date and the more complicated it can get. The bottom of the chain will usually start with a first-time buyer or an investor, and the top of the chain will usually be a new build or empty property. If you are buying and selling at the same time, you are automatically in a chain.

Chancel Repair Liability Insurance

Chancel Repair Liability is the obligation on homeowners in to contribute towards the maintenance and repair of the local parish church. There are searches that can be carried out to assess whether the property is in an area where this is likely to affect you, however these can be costly. Instead, we would usually obtain an insurance policy at a slightly lesser cost to cover the possibility of this being an issue.


These are the items that the seller of a property may be leaving in the property, either as part of the purchase price, or at an additional price agreed between both the buyer and seller. These items are usually listed in the Fittings and Contents Form, which forms part of the Contract for Sale.


This is the date that money changes hands and the legal ownership of the property is transferred from the seller to the buyer. The buyer can collect the keys, and this is the date that you will be moving. Unfortunately, as the completion is all dependent on how long it takes for the money to move between bank accounts, it is very difficult to put a time on when completion will take place on the completion date. If you are at the bottom of a chain (i.e. first-time buyers) it is likely that completion will be early in the day, as your conveyancers will start the ball rolling and are the first people the send money. On the other hand, if you are at the top of the chain (i.e. a builder) completion will be later in the day as your conveyancers will be the last people to receive the money. The money needs to go through every conveyancer’s bank account in the chain to successfully complete the transaction on each property. We would usually say that the completion date will be approximately 6 – 12 weeks from the date that contracts are issued on all properties in the chain.

Completion Statement

Sometimes referred to as a Financial Statement. This is a breakdown of all money coming in and going out in respect of your transaction. This will show what is owed either to you or buy you to be able to complete the transaction.

Contract for Sale

When you hear the term “Exchange” we are talking about physically exchanging this document. This is the document between the buyer and the seller setting out the details of the sale of the property. It includes details of the property, the purchase price and the parties buying and selling the property or land. Once the legal paperwork is ready we will exchange these contracts for a set completion date ready for you to move.

Contract Pack

This is the bundle of documents that start the process, the buyer’s solicitors cannot start work on the property without these. The pack is made up of the Contract for Sale, Official Copies and the Protocol Forms.


This is the legal process of transferring a property from one party to another. This work can be carried out by either a Licensed Conveyancer, Legal Executive or Solicitor.

Council for Licensed Conveyancers (CLC)

This is the governing body that licenses and regulates conveyancers. Every solicitor or conveyancer will need to be regulated by either the CLC or the SRA.


These are obligations and restrictions attached to land and property. They will be listed in the title to your property and can range from an obligation to maintain a specific boundary fence, to a restriction on your ability to extend and alter the property.


These are traditionally though of as the big old-fashioned bundle of documents dating back hundreds of years. Nowadays, Deeds are simply a few pages of A4 that are stored electronically at Land Registry. Unless the property is not registered with Land Registry, your Conveyancer/Solicitor will be able to get copies of these with a few clicks, however if the property is not registered then the old-fashioned bundle will still be needed.


This is usually 10% of the purchase price but can be less if your mortgage lender agrees. This is paid when you buy a property, to your Conveyancer once the legal work is nearly ready and a completion date has been agreed. The deposit is needed before exchange of contracts as this is used to make the sale/purchase legally binding.


A fee that is payable, not to your Conveyancer for their services, but to someone that your conveyancer has had to pay on your behalf. For example, for your searches or Land Registration Fee. This is why most firms will ask for an initial payment up front, to cover any costs that they have to pay on your behalf before completion.

Drainage Search

A search carried out when you purchase a property to ensure that it is connected to the foul sewers, surface water drainage and water.

Deed of Trust

A Deed of Trust is a legal document which sets out how two people own a property if they decide not to own it in equal shares. This might be because one of the two purchasers has paid significantly more towards the deposit, or for capital gains tax purposes. For example, if Purchaser A put in 75% of the deposit and Purchaser B only put in 25%, they might agree to own the property in the same proportions rather than the usual 50-50 split. They write this agreement down in a Deed of Trust, and the existence of this document is noted when the property is registered with Land Registry.

See also Joint Tenants and Tenants in Common.

Environmental Search

A search that is carried out to check if there are any known environmental issues which may affect the property. These can range from contaminated land (possible a nearby landfill or an old factory site) to flooding a subsidence issues.


Questions raised by the Buyer’s Conveyancer after they have reviewed the paperwork that the Seller’s Solicitors have provided, including the Deeds and Protocol Forms. These can be minor issues, such as “When was the boiler last serviced” or more concerning issues, like “Why is the garage that I want to buy not included in the title?”. The buying process cannot proceed until all of these enquiries have been satisfied by the Seller’s Solicitors to the Buyer’s Solicitor’s satisfaction. As a buyer, you can raise any enquiries that you may have at this point; for example, if you believe that the property has been extended, but this is not mentioned in the paperwork, you should rase this with your Conveyancer to allow them to raise the question with the Seller’s Solicitor. Remember, your conveyancer is acting for you and in your best interest, so it is important that they are happy with all information provided. If you are selling the property, we may need you to help us answer some of these enquiries, as, although we will do our best to answer these, we don’t know the house like you do.


The between the value of the property and the amount you owe on the mortgage. For example, if you own a property that is worth £150,000, and you owe £100,000, you have £50,000 in equity.

Exchange of Contracts

This is when the sale and purchase becomes legally binding. A completion date is agreed and you can finally make your moving arrangements for that date. NOTHING is legal until the exchange has taken place and therefore either party can walk away at any point up to this point. After exchange, you can still change your mind, but there are hefty penalties in place that could costs tens, if not hundreds of thousands of pounds.

Fittings and Contents Form

This form makes up the Protocol Forms. It is part of the Contract and sets out what items are and aren’t included in the sale of the property. It also allows for any the sale of any additional items that may be agreed between the buyer and the seller.


The most common form of land ownership is Freehold. When you own a freehold property, you own the property and the land that it sits on, usually with few restrictions as to its use. The second most common form of land ownership is Leasehold.

Full Title Guarantee

Where the seller of the property is also the owner of the entire legal property and should therefore know everything that a reasonable person can be expected to know about it. The alternative is Limited Title Guarantee.

Ground Rent

Rent paid on Leasehold properties by the Tenant to the Landlord. As a Leaseholder you do not own the land that the property sits on, therefore the Freehold owner of the property has the right to charge you rent for the same.

Grant of Probate

When someone dies, there affairs will need to be dealt with. In order for someone to deal with these on their behalf they will need to apply for a Grant of Probate. This documents gives the applicant the legal power to deal with the assets and sell property.

Homebuyers Report

A form of survey which goes beyond the basics of a mortgage valuation, but not as in depth as a structural survey. It will list aspects of the property and their state of repair, giving the buyer further information which may not be revealed in the legal process. It allows the buyer to make an informed decision about the costs that may be involved in maintaining the property going forward.

Help to Buy Equity Loan

A loan from the government for a percentage of the property value rather than a fixed amount. This is a government scheme to help people afford property by borrowing with a traditional mortgage as well as with an equity loan. For more information, visit

Help to Buy ISA

Another government scheme, but for first time buyers only. It is a savings account that you can put up to £200 every calendar month in and once you are ready to buy a house your conveyancer will apply for a bonus of 25% of the entire amount in the account. For more information, visit

Indemnity Insurance

An insurance taken out to protect the buyer, their mortgage lender or both, against any potential liability or defect in the title. Such defects can range from lack of planning permission to missing searches and possessory title.

Initial Payment

An amount of money that we ask for at the start of the conveyancing transaction to cover any disbursements that we may need to pay for before completion. If this money isn’t used, it will be taken into account when we put together your Financial Summary.

Index Map Search

A Land Registry search carried out, to establish whether the land is registered or unregistered. This is usually done on an unregistered property to make sure that no land that belongs to the property has been registered to someone else.

Joint Tenants

This is one of the ways in which joint owners can hold the property, the other being Tenants in Common. To hold the property as Joint Tenants means that on the death of one party, the property will automatically pass to the other, irrespective of any will or the party’s independent wishes. You own the property together as one entity and therefore no single party can leave their share of the property to someone else.

Land Charges Search

This is a pre-completion search. If you are having a mortgage, it is usually a condition of the mortgage lender to carry our Bankruptcy Searches on you as a buyer to make sure that there are no other charges registered with Land Registry that the bank has not been made aware of.

Land Registry Search

This is a pre-completion search. It is carried out to ensure that there have been no changes to the title to the property since receiving the Contracts. It also protects your interest (or that of your mortgage lender) in the property between completion and registration.

Land Registry

The department of the government that holds the legal title documents to land in England and Wales. Land Registry also guarantees the title to all registered land which means that if you were to suffer any financial loss due to an error on the register, you may be able to claim compensation from the Crown.


a contract by which one party conveys property to another for a specified period of time.


as opposed to Freehold. Rather than owning the property and the land it sits on, you own the right to occupy the property for a set length of time (this can run into hundreds of years). Once the set time expires, the ownership of the right to occupy the land reverts to the Freeholder.

Leasehold Information Form (TA7)

This form is part of the Protocol Forms. It is completed by the seller at the beginning of a Leasehold transaction to provide details of the Landlord, Managing Agent, ground rent and service charges.

Limited Title Guarantee

This is where the seller of the property is not the legal owner but has the legal right to sell it (perhaps the legal owner has passed away or lost mental capacity). It means that the seller cannot fully confirm that the information he provides is correct as he has no first hand knowledge of the property.

Local Authority Searches

A search that is carried out with the local council. This will reveal information specific to the property, such as whether the road serving the property is maintained by the council and if there are any planning permissions and building regulations on the property. Any planning permissions on surrounding areas will not be revealed in the search and therefore if there is anything that you want to check in this respect additional searches may be required.

Mortgage Deed

The legally binding document that you sign to agree to the terms and conditions set out in the Mortgage Offer. We will need to have the signed mortgage deed before we can order your mortgage money as the bank will not lend the money without you signing this.

Mortgage Offer

The formal offer from a mortgage lender for them to loan you the money on the property. It will set out the amount that you are borrowing, the term that you are borrowing it for, the interest rate and any fees that are associated with it. The mortgage offer is property specific and set out in a standard form in line with the requirements of the Financial Conduct Authority (

Negative Equity

As Equity is the difference between the value of the property and the amount of money owed on a mortgage, negative equity is where the amount of money owed is higher than the value of the property.


An occupier is anyone over the age of 18 who leaves at the property but does not legally own it. If you are buying a property with the intention of having someone else who doesn’t own it live with you, they will be an occupier. They will need to sign the mortgage deed to confirm that they will waive their right to occupy the house in the event that the lender has to repossess the property. Similarly, if you are selling a house and there is an occupier living with you, they will need to sign the Contract to confirm that they will move out with you (no-one wants to buy a house and find a stranger refusing to leave!).

Official Copies

This is the official name of the Deeds today. They provide details of who owns the property and are held by Land Registry. Your conveyancer will request these at the very beginning of the process as part of the Contract Pack.

Power of Attorney

If someone is unable to deal with their own affairs (maybe due to loss of mental capacity or living abroad) they can appoint someone else to act for them by way of a Power of Attorney.

Pre-Completion Searches

Searches carried out by your conveyancer before exchange of contracts to ensure that the buyer has not become bankrupt and that the seller is still the legal owner of the property and able to sell. See also Land Charges Search and Land Registry Search.

Property Information Form

This form is part of the Protocol Forms. It is a questionnaire about the property that is completed by the Sellers. The questions range from who accepts responsibility of the boundary fences to how the property is heated and who currently resides at the property. We will send the buyer a copy of this form to provide them with this information and give them the opportunity to raise any queries that they have with the information provided in the same.

Protocol Forms

The general term to describe the Property Information Form, Fittings and Contents Form and Leasehold Information Form. These forms make up part of the Contract Pack and are completed by the seller to provide as much detail about the property as possible. We always send copies of these to the buyer to ensure that they have all of the information needed to make an informed decision on the purchase of the property.

Redemption Statement

A statement form the mortgage lender telling us exactly how much money is needed to repay the mortgage in full to remove the charge from the register. This will be the amount that you borrowed, less any amount that you have paid back during the term of the mortgage. It may also include additional fees such as an Early Repayment Charge and Redemption Fees. It is important that you provide all account details for any mortgages or loans that you against the property so that we can get a redemption statement for all of these.


A retention is usually held in Leasehold transactions after completion. It is held back by a party, usually requested by the purchaser’s conveyancer that the seller’s conveyancer hold this in case of any deficit when the end of year service charge accounts are issued to make sure that the buyer does not end up paying for charges incurred before he purchased the property.
A Retention can sometimes be made by a mortgage lender in cases where crucial works are required. This means that the lender will lend part of the money required for you to buy the property and release the rest of the money to you after the works have been carried out.

Stamp Duty Land Tax

A government tax based on the purchase price of the property and payable to HMRC. For more information, please visit

Statutory Declaration

A statutory declaration, or ‘stat dec’ for short, is an oath sworn before a Commissioner of Oaths. It could technically be about anything at all, you could swear a statutory declaration that you wear your pyjamas back to front every night, if you wanted to! More typically, it’s used in conveyancing to declare that you have always had access to a part of your property even though you have to cross land that you do not actually own, for example. It’s intended to protect the buyer from future claims that they cannot continue to behave in the way that previous owners have.

Solicitors Regulatation Authority (SRA)

The body that regulates and governs solicitor firms and individuals. Every solicitor or conveyancer will need to be regulated by either the SRA or the CLC.

Telegraphic Transfer

Also known as a CHAPS, is a method of payment to transfer large sums of money from one account to another, ensuring that it reaches the receiving bank account the same day. This is particularly important in conveyancing transactions as the purchase money needs to reach the seller’s conveyancer’s bank account the same day.

Tenants in Common

This is one of the ways in which joint owners can hold the property, the other being Joint Tenants. To hold the property as Tenants in Common means that on the death of one party, their share in the property passes to their estate and not automatically to the other owner(s). That share can be left in a will to anyone whether this is the joint owner or now. You own the property jointly, but as two (or more) independent entities.


This is documentary evidence of ownership, usually stored electronically with Land Registry. It shows details of the legal owner, any rights and restrictions that may affect the property. See also Deeds and Official Copies.

Transfer Deed

The legal documents that, once signed, witnessed and dated, transfers the property from one owner to another. It will be dated on Completion and sent to the buyer’s conveyancer for them to send it on to Land Registry to update the Title.

Transfer of Equity

The process of transferring a share or interest in the property from one person to another, rather than transferring the entire property.

Vacant Possession

The property will be vacated in full and empty of possessions (other than the those agreed in the Fittings and Contents Form) and rubbish on completion.