Glossary of Property Terms

We would be lying if we said the legal landscape was not complex, in fact it can be rather daunting. Our aim is to make the process straightforward as our priority is to offer you the best possible service.

With this in mind we have created this list of key conveyancing terms you may come across with both residential and commercial property. We hope that these help you navigate future property enquiries.

Advance

The payment of your mortgage monies from a lender.

Assignment

The transfer of a lease.

Bankers Draft
A slip produced by your bank similar to a cheque, however, the payment is guaranteed by the bank. A bankers draft.

Bank Transfer Fee/TT fee
This is a charge for transferring money between bank accounts on the day of completion. This ensures that the money moves between solicitors accounts on the same day.

Bankruptcy Search
This is a check carried out by us on behalf of your mortgage lender (and will be a strict requirement of your mortgage lender) to check no bankruptcy order has been made or any petition pending.

Chancel Repair Liability
Chancel repair liability is an ancient right held by some churches to recover from properties within their parish the cost of repairing the chancel end of the church (i.e. the end where the alter is).

Chancel Search
The Chancel Search is a search to establish whether the property is at risk of having to contribute to the upkeep of a local parish church. This is a hangover from a ancient rules which unfortunately can still be enforced today.

CHAPS payment
The electronic payment of funds in cleared funds from by one bank to another - also refered to as a telegraphic transfer (TT).

Charge
A debt or mortgage secured on the property. Money borrowed from a bank for the purchase of a house is secured against the property by a charge.

Coal Mining Search
In some areas of the country this is required by banks to check whether the property is likely to be affected by mining activity. When something is revealed by this search, further enquires may be necessary.

Completion
The day on which the purchase or sale of a property or remortgage occurs. When you are buying or selling this is often when you swap keys and move house.

Condition of sale
A provision which is contained within of the contract governing the purchase.

Contract
The legally binding agreement between buyer and seller.

Conveyancing
A term used to describe the legal process of buying and selling land.

Covenants
Rules and conditions contained either in the deeds to the property or in your contract that setting out things you must do or refrain from doing.

Creditor
Someone who is owed money.

Deeds

Documents showing historical information relating to a property which may be used to evidence ownership of Unregistered Land.

Deed of Covenant
A document stating that someone will comply with the rules and conditions affecting a property.

Deposit
Part of the purchase price which is paid on exchange of contracts to confirm commitment to the purchase. This is often 10% of the purchase price but in some circumstances can be negotiable.

Drainage Searches
A search which ascertains, amongst other things, whether or not the property is connected to the mains water supply and mains sewers.

Disbursement

A cost which is payable by your solicitor as part of your transaction. These are not solicitors fees but amounts due to third parties.

Easement
A right granted over property (such as a right of way).

Encumbrance
An obligation or burden affecting a property.

Energy Performance Certificate (EPC)
An EPC gives home sellers an "A to G" rating for their home's energy efficiency to help cut carbon emissions and fuel bills, (a similar rating to labels found on new domestic appliances).

Engrossment
A document in its final form to be signed by all relevant parties.

Environmental
The Enviromental Search checks for potential contamination at the property and whether there are any issues affecting the property that would be revealed by public records. It also provides a limited amount of information on flood risk.

Exchange of Contracts
The stage at which the transaction between the seller and the buyer becomes legally binding.

Freehold
Outright ownership of a property and the land on which it stands.

Ground rent
Annual payments made to a landlord. This applies only to leasehold properties. Payment of ground rent could be a nominal figure which is never in practice charged (often called a peppercorn rent) but could also be large sums of money.

Headlease
A lease that is granted out of the freehold estate. The Headlease may be subject to subleases.

Homebuyer survey
This report is less detailed than a full building survey but it will give a valuation and some basic information as to the state of repair and condition of the property. Most Lenders will accept this sort of report but it will not fully investigate the likelihood of repair at the property.

Intestate
Dying without having made a will.

Joint tenants
This is one of two ways in which people can jointly own a piece of land. When property is owned by two people as joint tenants, if either owner dies the property will automatically pass to the other owner regardless of what is contained in any will. See also Tenants in Common.

Landlord

Somebody who owns property and rents it to others.

Land Registry
A government department which maintains the national property register in England and Wales.

Land Registry Fee
This is a charge by the Land Registry for registering a new owner.

Land Registry Search
This is a check at the Land Registry to check the property belongs to the Seller and what mortgages or other charges need to be paid off. It should also reveal whether there are any legal restrictions on the use of the property.

Lease
A document made between a landlord and a tenant, setting out the terms of occupation of a property.

Leasehold
The occupier owns the right to reside in a property for the term of a lease (which could extend up to 999 years!)  but does not own the land on which it stands.

Licence to assign
A formal permission sometimes required from a landlord to enable a buyer to purchase a leasehold property.

Local search
These are standard forms of questions sent to the local authority, they are designed to reveal information relating to highways or whether the property has the benefit of planning permission etc. 

Management company
A company set up to manage the building and common parts of a property in which a leasehold property is situated.

Mortgage

A loan secured against a property. In the event of non-payment, there is usually a right to of repossession.

Mortgage indemnity policy
An insurance policy taken out by a lender to cover any loss in the event of a forced sale. Usually, the company providing the policy has the legal right to recover the loss from the borrower.

Mortgage protection policy
An insurance policy which guarantees mortgage payments in certain circumstances such as unemployment.

Mortgagee
A money lender, such as a building society or bank, who secures the loan against a property.

Mortgagor
The borrower who uses their property as security for lending.

NHBC
National House Builders Council. The NHBC provide a ten year warranty against major structural defects for new properties.

Official Copies
A copy of the title to a property showing the information registered at the Land Registry, this document should also confirm who owns the property.

Personal representative
The person appointed to deal with the estate of a deceased person.

Property Information Form
A form completed by the Seller setting out information about the property, its use and condition.

Quarter days
25 March - Lady Day, 24 June - Midsummer Day, 29 September - Michaelmas, 25 December - Christmas.

Redemption
Paying off a mortage or other borrowing.

Registered land
Land which has its ownership details recorded at the Land Registry.

Repayment mortgage
A mortgage where the borrower makes interest and capital payments to the lender.

Requisition on title
Queries raised as to how the transfer will take place and the procedures the solicitors will use to deal with the transfer on the day of Completion.

Retention
Monies held back from a mortgage advance or from a purchase price pending certain conditions being met.

Service charge
Money requested by a landlord or management company for repairs and maintenance to a Leasehold property and communal areas.

Stamp Duty
A government tax currently charged to buyers purchasing properties for more than £125,000.00.

Subject to contract
Negotiations which do not become binding until contracts are exchanged.

Structural survey
An assessment of the essential framework of a build.

Tenant
A person who pays rent to another for the use of a property or land.

Tenants in common
A way in which two people can own land together. Where people own a property jointly as "tenants in common" their shares can be equal or unequal. Further when one of those people 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 event of no will having been made).See also Joint Tenants above.

Tenure
The type of property: Freehold, Leasehold or Commonhold.

Term
A period of time, such as the length of a mortgage.

Title Information Document
The document issued by the Land Registry on completion of the registration of a change of ownership or mortgage.

Title Insurance Policy
An insurance taken out usually by way of a one off payment to cover a 'defect' found in the title to a property, such as a lack of rights or a breach of planning permission or building regulation approval. It usually covers the owner and their lender against financial risks associated with the defect.

Transfer
The document transferring ownership from seller to buyer.

Underlease
A leasehold term which is granted from a longer leasehold term.

Unregistered Land

Land which is not showing on the register at the Land Registry. For this type of property ownership is evidenced by producing ‘deeds’.

Valuation
An assessment of a property’s value.

Vendor
The property seller.

Andrew Tidd
Solicitor
Abigail Taylor
Senior Conveyancing Clerk
Ben Foster
Conveyancing Manager
Nataleigh Adamson
Graduate Legal Executive
Hannah Waters
Conveyancing Assistant