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Town and Country Planning: Guidelines to conveyancing solicitors for ensuring compliance

This article deals with the transactional matters that affect the conveyancing and the steps that the conveyancing solicitor should take to ensure that the process goes on smoothly.

Acting for the seller:

A seller is not really obligated to disclose planning and other matters, and a buyer’s conveyancing solicitor would be very reluctant to transact unless he is satisfied that all matters related to the proper use of the property, current planning & other regulations are complied with. It is therefore important that the seller’s solicitor take steps to ensure that all of these are in place and should be prepared for any problems that may arise. The seller’s conveyancer should also check and make sure that he is prepared to face the implications of the following:

  • The date on which the property was first built and the use to which it has been put to.
  • Details of the alterations, extensions and additions that were made to the property or the ground on which it has been built. Details such as the number of additions and extensions made, the date, etc. should be mentioned.
  • Did any activity take place that potentially required permission from the local authority? If so, did the seller obtain the necessary permission and were there any conditions attached to the planning consent or the GPDO. This should be checked to ensure that they have been complied with.
  • Has the owner undertaken alterations or changed the use in restriction to the covenants that may affect the title. And if the property is leasehold, the conveyancing solicitor should check for considerations not only of the covenants that bind the freehold, but also consideration of a covenant that may control development contained in the lease.
  • Does the property belong to a conservation area or is the property a listed building.
  • Has the owner undertaken any alteration or addition to the property? If so, has he complied with the building regulation control and the necessary certificate of compliance or self-certification certificate was obtained (in cases where it is deemed necessary).

Acting for the Buyer:

On his part, the buyer’s conveyancing solicitor has to ensure that information related to all aspects mentioned above is provided by the seller or his solicitor and that they are to his satisfaction. An enquiry with the local authority or the seller should be sufficient to gather this information. If irregularity is noticed, it should be informed to the seller, and should be dealt with at the seller’s expense or an indemnity should be obtained from the seller.

While an enquiry into the property should be sufficient to help the conveyancing solicitor understand the problems (if any) arising from the seller’s use of property, the buyer’s solicitor should also enquire if the buyer proposes to carry out any work on the property. If this is the case, obtaining necessary permissions should be considered.

Photo courtesy: chicagogeek

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