A conveyancing solicitor’s job does not end with completion; there are a number of things that are to be dealt with immediately. The following are the steps to be undertaken by the conveyancing solicitor acting on behalf of the buyer.
Complete mortgage deed
The lawyer has to complete the mortgage deed by inserting the date and other relevant information relating to the deal, i.e. filling the date when first repayment is made.
Complete file copies of documents
File copies of the mortgage deed, transfer deed and other relevant documents should be filled. These are the spare copies of documents that shall remain in the file for future reference. Sometimes, they are used as duplicate copies to be sent to the Land Registry Office.
The land transaction return and payment of SDLT on the transfer deed and other relevant documents need to be paid.
Account for bridging finance
The buyer’s bank should be informed about any bridging finance in accordance with an undertaking that is given in this regard. Once an account for this is given, the solicitor can request to be discharged from such an undertaking.
Send bill to the client
The next step is to prepare and send a bill to the client. When the money is held by the solicitor on behalf of his client, the same should be transferred to the office account, provided that the client has expressly or impliedly agreed to the same.
On receiving the completed Form DS1 or the receipted deed from the seller’s conveyancing solicitor, the buyer’s conveyancing solicitor has to ensure that all information provided is correct and acknowledge the same and arrange for the release of the undertaking given on completion.
Make copies of documents
Documents that are to be sent to the Land Registry Office should be photocopied just in case requisition is raised by the Registry or if documents are lost or damaged before registration is complete. The conveyancing solicitor should also make copies of documents such as the buyer’s mortgage, a transfer or conveyance of part that requires the imposition of restrictive covenants. These are required by the Land Registry. Documents that are to be sent to the Land Registry are to be certified. The certification is effected by writing or typing on the document, the following:
“I/We certify this to be a true copy of the [type of document] dated [insert date] [signed XYZ and Co].”
This certification which can be signed by an individual or a firm can be carried out only by a solicitor who is a practicing lawyer and holds a certificate for the same. Except in the case of a power of attorney that needs to be separately certified on each page, one certificate on the reverse of the document will cover the entire document.
Register the title
The buyer’s conveyancing solicitor will also have to make an application for the registration of title using the AP1 Form within the priority period or make use of the FR1 Form within two months of completion. Form FR1 is undertaken in the case of application of first registration.
Register company charges
Any charges created by the company should be registered at the Companies House within 21 days of creating the charges. This is in accordance with the provisions required under the Companies Act. This is done by submitting the Companies House MG01 Form along with a fee that is payable to the Companies House. This time limit of 21 days is absolute and cannot be altered without the order of the court.
Once an application is made, the Companies House sends out a notice to all parties concerned who are likely to search the Register. Failure to register within 21 days can prejudice the lender’s security. Thus, charges against the company’s liquidator/ administrator or other creditors are rendered void. A bonafide purchaser of the company’s property with no knowledge of the charges can take the property free of charge. Besides registering with the Companies House, the charges should also be registered with the Land Registry.
Diary entry for registration to be effected
A diary should be maintained to record the approximate date when the registration will be effected. This should be referred to remind the Registry if confirmation is not received by that time.
Discharge entries protecting the contract
If the contract is to be protected by an entry [through a notice or an entry on Class C (iv) land charge], an application should be made for discharge of that entry. Once completion takes place, this entry becomes redundant.
Check register entries
On completion of the transaction, the Land Registry sends a copy of the register to the conveyancing solicitor. It is the conveyancer’s job to check if all facts mentioned are accurate. And if they are not so, the same should be informed to Registry seeking rectification of errors.
Custody of deeds
Once the transaction is completed and the land is registered, the Land Registry does not issue any further certificates and the entry in the Registry is proof itself of ownership. But deeds and other title documents and their custody are important as they are to be produced for subsequent sales. Thus, documents such as planning consents, building regulation approvals, defective title insurance papers, guarantees for building work, etc. will have to be obtained for safe keeping.
When the property is mortgaged, the lender is entitled to these documents and his instructions should be followed. While this is the conventional procedure, in the case of residential transactions, lenders do not prefer nowadays to keep these documents because of administrative expenses involved in receiving, storing and producing them when they are required for further sale. In such cases, instructions received from the buyer should be followed. The buyer either wishes to retain them himself, or want them to be sent to the lender bank, or may instruct the conveyancing solicitor to store them for him. When he chooses for the last two options, a storage fee payable by the client is applied. If the buyer chooses to keep these with him, the conveyancing solicitor must emphasize on the importance of storing them properly so that they can be produced during a subsequent sale.
Check file for outstanding matters
The conveyancing solicitor has to check his file to ensure that all outstanding matters are dealt with before sending the file for storage.
Photo courtesy: Harald Hoyer