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At Judkins Solicitors we love Property.

Property is a complicated subject and has been since property and land ownership began.

One thing that is certain, many billions of pounds have been lost and gained in the property game.

Our aim is to help you avoid loss and protect gain.

All property ownership is now Registered Title which means Title to the property is registered at the relevant HM Land Registry for the area where the property is located.

The Title Deeds are the computer printout from HM Land Registry of the registered Title and Filed Plan. Each property has a specific Title number. The Title records the owners and if the owners have a mortgage name and date of the mortgage but not the amount borrowed.

These HMLR Office Copies printout will also record any encumbrances on the property, restrictive covenants, rights of way etc. All these additional title documents will also be photocopied and recorded at the Land Registry.

This means that when you sell the property all the relevant Title Deeds should be available from HMLR and then sent with the contract for sale and Property Information Forms to the buyer’s solicitor.

The process of registration at HMLR has greatly simplified matters but surprisingly it has not speeded up the process. There are a small number of properties that remain unregistered. In these situations the conveyancing solicitor will have to deduce title by reference to old conveyances often written on thick parchment paper.

There is nothing problematic in this provided the seller has all the original documents. On completion of the sale of previously unregistered land the new owner will receive a registered title with title number and all the old conveyances will be photocopied and recorded at the HM Land Registry.

There are two ways that property can be held either as Joint Tenants or Tenants in Common.

Married couples and/or couples will normally hold as Joint Tenants – this means that if one person dies the survivor automatically takes the deceased person’s share.

The other way of holding property is as Tenants in Common which may be more appropriate for example an unmarried couple who are starting out and/or a couple who are putting in to the property different amounts of money in which case they would be advised to hold as Tenants in Common – a simple Trust Deed would record each person’s separate contribution and further each person would be entitled to leave their specific share to someone else other than the other registered proprietor.

A property is either Freehold or Leasehold and generally speaking houses would be Freehold and maisonettes and flats are Leasehold. Leases can be anything from 99 to 999 years but usually they are either 99 or 125. There is a ground rent payable and a modern lease will usually have an initial ground rent of £200 upwards.

In addition flat owners have to pay service charge for the maintenance of their building and communal areas. When buying property it is very important that the conveyancer reports fully to the client on all matters that may affect the property such as planning permission, extensions, FENSA certificates, electrical certificates, Local Authority issues, environmental issues, drainage, rights of way and restrictive covenants.

With regards to leases the conveyancer must prepare a full report on the terms of the lease, restrictions on use, the regulations, communal areas, annual service charge, terms of lease, rights of renewal etc.

The conveyancer should also identify in leasehold properties whether there is likely any unusual expenditure in the next service charge period, whether there are any notices relating to expenditure that have been served on the Freeholder and if the lease has 80 years or less then whether the Freeholder is prepared to extend the term and if so the likely premium to be charged.

It will also be important to have a term on the sale contract that the seller serves a notice of his right to extend the lease so that the buyer can take advantage of this once he becomes the new owner.

When someone dies often their main asset will be a property consisting of a house or flat. In this case a Grant of Probate must be obtained before the beneficiaries complete on a sale. In some circumstances beneficiaries may simply want the property transferred into their names with a view to renting it out and this can be achieved by way of an Assent.

If the property is a flat then the Freeholders will have to be notified. In some cases if the property was assisted living then transfer fees are payable on sale or transfer to beneficiaries.

It may be important to consider Capital Gains Tax implications to a beneficiary if they are transferring a property into their sole name and already own a home.

This and many other considerations are important to ensure that your Property Inheritance runs smoothly.

Often property disputes can arise regarding the ownership of a property. Less common situations are where one person claims ownership by virtue of the fact that he has used land and/or property as his home without interference by any other for a long period of time.

This situation is recognised at law and is known as adverse possession. The person making the application has a high burden of proof and when submitting an application to the relevant HM Land Registry where the land is located. If he is successful he will be given a title number but Title will be a Possessory Title only.

He can after a while apply to upgrade the title to Absolute.

Adverse possession is not to be confused with possession proceedings. The latter often occurs in the context of rental property where an owner of the property has let it out to tenants on an Assured Short hold Tenancy usually 6 or 12 months. At the end of the tenancy for one reason or another the tenants refuse to leave and the owner then have to obtain a Possession Order.

Disputes can also arise regarding the ownership of a property itself between co-owners. People often buy property together without giving adequate thought as to what might happen if later they wish to go their separate ways. If for example a couple buy a house or flat as joint tenants and one person puts in 10% deposit and the other puts nothing in if later the relationship breaks down it could be the position that the other person still wants their 50% share of the sale proceeds.

It is therefore very important when 2 or more people are buying a property that everything is properly recorded and due consideration is given to the amounts of money that is being put it and how they should be recorded at HMLR as holding it.

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