National House Builders Council

Abstract of Title A schedule listing the documents which set out the history of ownership of a property.
Acting for both sides The same firm is used by the seller and buyer which usually speeds up the transaction. The same conveyancer cannot act for both, but a different conveyancer in the same firm can act for the other party.
Adopted Highway A road maintained by the local authority.
Adult Occupier See Occupier’s consent
Advance The payment of mortgage monies by the lender.
Agreement Often used as a word for contract.
Apportionment This term is used most often in relation to Leasehold property where rent and service charges will need to be apportioned between the seller and buyer. The act of apportioning the rent/service charge is generally required because the rent/service charge is due for a particular period i.e. six months and the liability for that the period has to be spilt between the seller and the buyer.
APR Annual Percentage Rate. A yardstick to help compare interest rates among lenders. It takes into account extra items such as booking fees.
Assent The formal document required to transfer ownership of a property to a person entitled following the death of the owner.
Assignment The transfer of a lease.
Assured Shorthold Tenancy A special form of tenancy agreement designed to simplify the process of obtaining vacant possession of the property at the end of the agreed tenancy period.
Attorney Someone appointed formally to act on behalf of another either generally or for a specific purpose.
Bankruptcy Search A search of the Land Charges Register to see if any bankruptcy proceedings are pending or established against a person.
Base Rate The basic rate of interest upon which other interest rates are based.
Basic fee The fee charged by the solicitor for their time and skills. This is most often calculated as a percentage of the property’s sale price, although it can also be calculated as a fixed-fee or on a per-hour basis.
Borrower See mortgagor.
Boundaries Boundaries define the extent of the property in question and are usually marked with fencing, hedging or walls. They are usually shown explicitly on the deeds plan.
Breach of Contract Once contracts have been exchanged, if either party pulls out and does not complete the conveyancing process they are in breach of contract and the non-defaulting party can legally seek reparations.
Bridging loan A short term loan.
Brine Search A search to establish if a property might be affected as a result of salt workings near the property.
Building insurance Once contracts have been exchanged, you will in most cases become responsible for the new property’s building insurance. This must cover the cost of rebuilding the entire property if it is destroyed. Your mortgage lender may want to see proof of this insurance.
Building Regulation Consent Approval by the local authority on the design, structure and materials used in building work.
Buyer Someone who buys a property.
Capped Rate A mortgage interest rate which is a variable rate but capped at a maximum upper limit usually for a limited period.
Cashback A sum of money usually paid by the lender on completion of a mortgage.
Caveat Emptor This literally translates to ‘let the buyer beware’ and means the buyer is responsible for finding out the condition of a property using a surveyor.
Chain Where the success of one purchase depends on the sale and purchase of another. Several ‘links’ in the chain can make the conveyancing process particularly complicated.
Charge A debt secured on the property. Monies borrowed from a building society for the purchase of a house are usually secured against the property
Chattels Items of personal property left over at a house and included in the purchase price, such as furniture. These are described on the Fixtures, Fittings and Contents form.
Client care letter Conveyancers will send a client care letter for you to sign and return. This is a formal contract and should be read thoroughly. It will detail what services will be provided and a breakdown of the cost, in addition to the Conveyancers complaints procedure.
Coal mining search If the property is situated in a coal mining area this search will be conducted by the property lawyer to find out if coal mining activities will affect the property in the future.
Collateral Security pledged for repayment of a loan
Commons Registration Search A search at the local authority to check the property is not registered as common land or part of a village green which may therefore mean there are third party rights over the property (e.g. grazing) resulting in the enjoyment of the property being limited.
Completion The moment when the buyer becomes the new owner of the seller’s house and the seller must have left the property.
Completion date The legal end of the conveyancing process – the point at which full payment has been made and the title deeds transfer from one party to another. In everyday usage it refers to handing over keys and physically moving into the new property.
Completion Statement A written calculation of all the receipts and payments due in respect of the transaction.
Condition of sale A legal term of the contract governing the purchase.
Conservation area If the property to be bought lies in a conservation area protected by a local authority, it may be subject to exterior planning restrictions to preserve the look of the area.
Contaminated Land Land affected by contamination which could arise from a past use of a property (e.g. oil refinery) or by things stored on the property in the past (e.g. petrol station).
Contract The form of legal agreement prepared in duplicate for signature by the seller and buyer setting out all the legal rights and obligations agreed between them.
Conveyance A common name for the legal document that officially confirms the sale or purchase of a property or piece of land. Nowadays the transfer is conducted using a Transfer deed/document although in some cases a conveyance may be used.
Conveyancer Conveyancers are those who have undertaken the conveyancing process. Traditionally they are solicitors, but in recent years specialists have appeared who solely offer conveyancing as a dedicated service. These may be solicitors who have decided to specialise, or licensed and regulated firms that are not qualified as solicitors.
Conveyancing The legal and administrative process of transferring property title from one party to another. This is most often undertaken by solicitors or licensed conveyancers and is a necessity for most property sales taking place within the United Kingdom.
Council for Licensed Conveyancers (CLC) The governing body that licenses and regulates conveyancers. You should always ensure your conveyancer is a full member.
Covenant Obligations and restrictions, known as ‘positive’ and ‘negative’ covenants respectively, that can be attached to a property. Obligations require you to maintain something within your boundaries whilst restrictions prevent the construction of specific structures.
Creditor Someone who is owed money.
Deed of covenant A document stating that someone will comply with the rules and conditionsaffecting a property.
Deed of Gift A document transferring the ownership of property from one person to another without any payment being made for it.
Deed of Guarantee A document used where one person agrees to be responsible for someone else’s debt or mortgage obligations if that person fails to carry out their own obligations.
Deed of Postponement or Priority Where a mortgagee agrees to their mortgage ranking after another lender’s mortgage.
Deed of Variation A deed which changes the terms of a lease or other document.
Deeds Official documentation outlining the owner of a property which is in possession of the owner or mortgagees in the event the property is mortgaged.
Deposit The agreed amount to be paid on exchange of contracts usually forfeited if the buyer fails to complete.
Disbursements Disbursements are fixed costs incurred by a conveyancing provider undertaking the conveyancing process on your behalf, which are then passed on to you. Examples include local authority and bankruptcy searches.
Discount Rate A mortgage interest rate which will rise and fall with the variable rate but which will always be the discounted amount below the variable rate.
DIY conveyancing Most people appoint a solicitor or conveyancer when buying or selling a property but some choose to undertake the process themselves. This can be very risky in some cases, such as when dealing with leasehold properties.
Drainage search A check carried out during the conveyancing process that ensures a property is connected to both fresh and foul water sewers.
Early Redemption Penalty (ERP) See Redemption Penalty
Easement A right granted over another’s property (such as a right of way).
Encumbrance A (usually unfavourable) feature affecting a property.
Endowment Mortgage A mortgage where you pay the interest on the mortgage only and a premium towards an endowment policy. The policy is then intended to pay off the original amount borrowed at the end of the mortgage term.
Endowment Policy Assurance providing for the payment of a lump sum on death or maturity.
Engrossment A final version of a document to be signed by all relevant parties.
Environmental Search A search against a property to check whether there is any record kept to suggest that the property may be affected by contamination or other environmental issues.
Equity The difference between the value of a property and the figure owed to the mortgagee.
Exchange of contracts Contracts are signed and exchanged through your property lawyers. At this point the process becomes legally binding. Past this point neither buyer nor seller can pull out of the transaction without possible legal consequences.
Fixed Rate Mortgage A mortgage interest rate where the mortgagee agrees to charge a fixed rate of interest over a given period whether or not the variable rate changes.
Fixtures Fittings & Contents Form A standard form where the seller sets out all those items in the property which they have agreed to leave as part of the sale price and which is attached to and forms part of the contract.
Flying/Creeping Freehold This arises when part of one property is built on top of part of another property and so the upper property owner does not own the building or land underneath the “flying” part. Consequently the lower property is known as the “creeping” part.
Freehold A freehold property involves a permanent change in ownership of land or a building that is not time-sensitive and will not revert to another owner unless a new sale is agreed. Compare with leasehold.
Freeholder The person who owns the freehold title.
Full Title Guarantee An assurance by the owner of unfettered ownership.
Further Advance An additional amount lent to the mortgagor under the terms of the original mortgage.
Ground rent Annual payments made to a landlord. This applies only to leasehold properties
High Loan to Value Fee This is sometimes charged by a mortgagee where a borrower borrows more than a certain percentage of the value of a property to insure the mortgagee only against loss arising if the property is sold by them due to the borrower’s failure to pay the mortgage.
HM Land Registry The government body that deals with ownership of property and land throughout England and Wales, but not Scotland and Northern Ireland.
Indemnity InsurancePolicy A policy taken out to protect the owner against problems caused by a defect in the legal title.
Index Map A search at Land Registry of the Index Map can be made to establish if a property is registered or unregistered.
Interest Only Mortgage A mortgage whereby interest only is paid to the mortgagee and the capital amount of the original loan is repaid at the end of the mortgage term either by an endowment policy maturing or a pension or other savings plan maturing.
Intestate Dying without having made a will.
Joint tenants When property is owned by two people as “joint tenants,” on the death of the first of those people, the property passes outright to the survivor. It matters not what is contained in the deceased’s will.
Land certificate The official certificate issued by the Land Registry when a property is registered detailing ownership and interest in the property without any legal charge.
Land Charges Search If a property is unregistered a search at the land charges registry is made to see if a person has any bankruptcy proceedings pending or established or to see if there are any mortgages or interests registered which affect the property.
Land registry A government department which maintains the national property register
Land Registry Fee The fee payable to the Land Registry to register any change affecting the property including a change of ownership.
Land Registry Search A search at the land registry to check that no undisclosed charges or interests are registered against the property.
Landlord See Lessor
Lease Where a property is leasehold this is the document giving the lessee the rights to possession of the property for the lease term and setting out all the rights and obligations.
Leasehold In contrast to a freehold property, a leasehold property is one where a party buys the right to occupy land or a building for a given length of time, which may extend into hundreds of years. Compare with freehold.
Leasehold property information form An alternative version of the Property Information Form (SPIF) that is used when dealing with leasehold properties
Leaseholder See Lessee
Legal Charge See Mortgage
Lendor See Mortgagee
Lessee Where a property is leasehold the lessee means the current owner of the leasehold property as opposed to the freeholder or landlord whose interest is subject to the lessee’s right of occupation until the lease term has come to an end.
Lessor The person who owns the superior title and is entitled to the ground rent under the lease and possession of the property at the end of the lease term.
Licence to assign The formal permission given by a landlord for a buyer to purchase the leasehold of a property.
Limited Title Guarantee This is the title guarantee given by a seller where because of their limited knowledge of the property the full title guarantee cannot be given (e.g. a personal representative of a deceased owner or a mortgagee in possession).
Local authority searches These searches are conducted during the early stages of the conveyancing process and are designed to protect you from council plans that may affect the state of your property once you’ve moved in.
Local Search A search carried out at the local authority to check whether there have been any notices registered affecting the use of the property or any proposals for the neighbourhood which may directly affect the property.
Management company A company formed to comply with a landlord’s obligations under a lease.
Mining Search A search to check whether the property may be affected by coal mining activity which may result in subsidence.
Mortgage A loan secured against a property. In the event of non-payment, there is usually a right to sell the property.
Mortgage Deed The document signed by the mortgagor to create a legal charge which the mortgagee can register at the land registry.
Mortgage Offer The details of the terms upon which the mortgagee is prepared to make the mortgage loan.
Mortgage Term The length of time agreed for the repayment of the loan.
Mortgaged Where a property has been charged by the owner or mortgagor to the mortgagee.
Mortgagee A money lender, such as a building society or bank, who secures the loan against a property
Mortgagor Somebody who takes out a mortgage (a borrower).
Negative equity An issue where the amount of money you owe on the property, usually via a mortgage, is more than the sale value of the property.
NHBC . The NHBC provide a ten year guarantee for new properties.
Occupier’s consent Required when a person lives at a property but will not be signing the mortgage deed. Consent is asked to allow the mortgage being taken out by the owner, agreeing to move out if the mortgagee takes possession due to the default of the mortgage.
Office Copy Entries The legally permissible document outlining who owns your property, held by HM Land Registry. It is requested by your conveyancing provider during the conveyancing process.
Party Wall A wall owned jointly with a neighbour and repairable at shared expense.
Personalrepresentative The person appointed by a will to act for the deceased owner.
Planning Permission Approval by the local authority to the building or change of use of a property or extension to an existing property.
Power of attorney This document allows a person to act as a legal representative of somebody else with their consent. These are often used to protect the financial interests of the ill or the elderly.
Pre-completion searches These are searches undertaken by your conveyancing provider before contracts are exchanged. They check to see if you have been bankrupt and that the property in question is legally owned by the seller. Also known as priority searches.
Pre- contract enquiries Enquiries made by the buyer’s solicitor about the property being sold.
Priority searches See pre-completion searches above
Private Road A road maintained by property owners rather than by the local authority. The property owners need to have rights over it as it is not necessarily a public access.
Property Information Form Sellers are required to fill this form in and return it to their conveyancing provider. It asks questions regarding boundaries, disputes, services, relationships with neighbours, legal rights, restrictions and other important information. Failure to provide correct information is an offence; in cases where you’re unsure your solicitor should be able to help.
Property Information Form A document completed by a seller to give information about the property to the buyer (e.g. who maintains boundaries and whether there have been any disputes).
Purchase The buying of a property.
Purchaser See buyer
Radon Gas A naturally occurring radioactive gas which may if above certain safety levels require preventative action to be taken (e.g. more ventilation in a property).
Redemption This is the sum of money transferred to a lender if you decide to pay back your mortgage early, consisting of the outstanding lump sum balance in addition to a penalty fee charged to cover the interest the lender will subsequently lose out on.
Redemption Penalty A penalty charged by a mortgagee when you redeem a mortgage within a fixed rate, discounted rate or cashback period.
Registered land Land which is registered has its ownership details recorded at the Land Registry.
Remortgage Changing a mortgage from one mortgagee to another.
Rentcharge Some freehold properties are subject to a rentcharge payable to the rentcharge owner. This may be to ensure income for the original land owner without the existence of a lease or it can be to ensure that estate covenants can be enforced more easily.
Reparations The compensation or remuneration required in the event of a breach of contract.
Repayment Mortgage A mortgage where the mortgagor repays both interest and some of the initial capital borrowed each month.
Report on Title A report required by the lender and supplied by the buyer’s solicitor containing information about the property.
Requisition on title Queries raised about the ownership of the property and how that ownership will be transferred.
Reservation Fee An administration fee charged by some mortgagees to cover the cost of reserving a mortgagor’s entitlement to a loan on certain terms or possibly a fee paid to a builder to reserve a particular new property.
Retention Monies held back from an advance pending completion of building work to the property.
Sale The sale of a property.
Seller Someone who sells a property.
Seller’s Property Information Form (SPIF) A standard form completed by the seller which contains information to assist the buyer’s solicitor to determine whether his client should proceed with the transaction.
Service Charge A payment required by a lessor or managing agent to cover the costs of maintaining and running a development (e.g. gardening and decorating and also insuring a block of flats).
Smoke Control Order An order made by the local authority designating an area to be one in which only smokeless fuels may be burnt (i.e. not coal or wood).
Stamp duty All buyers pay stamp duty based on the purchase price of the property in question. The money accrues to HMRC.
Structural survey An assessment of the essential framework of a building.
Subject to contract Negotiations which do not become binding until contracts are exchanged.
Subsidence Where a property moves due to inadequate foundations or severe change to the underlying ground resulting in instability in the structure of a building often evidenced by cracks in walls.
Survey An inspection and report on the property by a surveyor as to the state of the property and value.
Tenant See Lessee
Tenants in common Where two or more people own a property as ‘tenants in common’, and one of them dies, the deceased’s share of the property will pass according to what has been stated in the deceased’s will (or according to the rules of intestacy, in the even of no will having been made).
Tenure The type of property: Freehold or leasehold.
Term A period of time, such as the length of a mortgage.
Term Assurance Life insurance which only lasts the term of the mortgage.
The Law Society The Law Society is the representative body for solicitors in England and Wales.
Third party rights When someone other than the legal owner of a property has the right to use or control the land of which they have no ownership.
Tin Search A search to establish whether the property may be affected by tin mining activity which may result in subsidence.
Title The owner’s right to a property.
Title deeds Title deeds provide proof of ownership on a particular property. Mortgage lenders will hold onto title deeds as they legally own the property until the mortgage is paid back. Once you have instructed a conveyancer they will arrange to obtain the title deeds from the lender
Title Deeds See Deeds
Transaction A dealing with property (e.g. sale or purchase).
Transfer deed A document that legally transfers your property into the name of the buyer. It must be signed by you in the presence of a witness.
Transfer of Equity A document transferring ownership of a share or interest in a property from one person to another.
Tree Preservation Order An order made by the local authority designating a tree or group of trees as protected and requiring the local authority’s permission to lop or fell them.
Unexpired Term The remaining term on a lease (A lease granted for 99 years, 10 years ago will have an unexpired term of 89 years).
Unregistered Title Where the title to a property has not previously been registered at the Land Registry and ownership is proved by the production of a complete chain of documents showing successive ownership.
Vacant Possession Possession of a property free of the presence of any people, possessions or rubbish.
Valuation A very simple form of survey designed to establish the market value of the property.
Variable Rate A mortgage interest rate which is variable and which is set by each individual mortgagee.
Vendor See Seller.
Wayleave Agreement A formal agreement entered into with a property owner to give a service provider (e.g. Electricity or Telephone company) a right for their pipe or cable to pass through or over their property.