Will 2024 bring changes to the conveyancing process?

23 Jan 2024 | Shilpa Mathuradas

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The National Trading Standard Estate and Letting Agency Team (NTSELAT) has recently released new guidance relating to information on both property sale and letting particulars.

This new guidance may mean that vendors need to consider instructing their solicitors earlier than they have done previously. Traditionally vendors have instructed solicitors when they have accepted an offer from the purchaser and found their dream home to purchase.

The first stage of the guidance required property listings to include price, council tax band and details of tenure. However there have been two further changes and whereas the first of these changes requires the listing of information which is within the vendor’s knowledge, the second change requires more specialist knowledge.

This change requires property listings to include information of whether the property is a listed building, is in a conservation area, subject to a tree preservation order, details of restrictive covenants, rights, planning permissions, restrictions on subletting and use of the property, details of flood risk, coastal erosion, and mining details as well as details of adaptations made and the suitability for accessibility needs. In the case of leasehold properties covenants and restrictions arising from the lease also need to be set out such as absolute covenants against pets or alterations.

The onus will be on the vendor to ensure all the necessary information is provided and if no comment is made on a particular issue, it may be assumed to have made an investigation and the property is not affected. In respect of much of the information, a conveyancer will be required to provide the information.

From the agents perspective, whereas they have always been under an obligation not to omit any material information on property listings, this is the first time that there is a defined list of the basic information required. It will leave agents open to enforcement action where details are inaccurate or not provided. It is therefore likely that agents will be encouraging vendors to bring a conveyancer on board at an early stage to help ensure validated information is available to an agent marketing the property especially given the possible risk of complaints of wasted costs and enforcement if information is inaccurate.

The idea behind the changes is to reduce the number of failed transactions and speed up the conveyancing process. It will also discourage those who place properties on the market speculatively. Vendors will have to change their mindset and instruct a conveyancer at an early stage rather than wait until they have found a buyer. Agents will also have to be more careful when dealing with property listings and perhaps revisit their advice and contracts with their clients.

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