House Sellers Are Facing Testing Questions

Property prices keep on hitting the headlines but anyone getting their home on the market with the hope of celebrating Christmas in a new place should get the paperwork in order before a buyer knocks on the door.

It’s tempting to throw away old papers when spring cleaning or thinking of moving home, but anything relating to renovation or upgrading on a property should be kept safe and sound to avoid problems and delays when you come to sell your house. If the tradesperson didn’t give you the right paperwork, it makes sense to track down what you can before you get too far along the sale process.

Any work involving electricity or gas should be carried out by someone who is suitably qualified and they should certify that the work has been properly carried out in accordance with applicable regulations.  New windows should have a FENSA certificate.

Internal modifications may need building regulations consent and, when the work is complete, you will need a certificate confirming that those regulations have been satisfied, together with any planning permission, if that was also required.

It is down to the householder to make sure these documents are provided, although it can mean having to be firm if a tradesperson treats such paperwork as of secondary importance, especially once the work is complete and they have been paid.

Old deeds and conveyancing documents may also be important. Although most properties are now registered at the Land Registry and the owner’s title consists of an electronic entry held by the Land Registry, the old deeds may contain information that does not appear in the Land Registry records. For example, the Land Registry title may state that a property is subject to certain rights or undertakings – known as covenants – but the record may not include the details about what exactly those rights or covenants are, and the only way of finding out is by referring to the old deeds.

Property law expert Richard Knight of our Rhyl office commented:  “It’s well known that moving home is one of the most stressful events in life, even if it all goes smoothly.  If you haven’t got the right records and certificates, it’s bound to cause delay and in the worst case scenario it could lead to a buyer backing out.  When you’re planning any work in the house beyond simply decorating, it really makes sense to check out your responsibilities as a homeowner: you need to know what paperwork your tradesperson is supposed to provide and then make sure that they do what is required.”

This is not legal advice; it is intended to provide information of general interest about current legal issues.

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