Top Ten Conveyancing Enquiries (Pre-Contract Enquiries)

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Conveyancing enquiries (also called pre-contract enquiries) can be a frustrating time for buyers.

Conveyancing enquiries (also called ‘pre-contract enquiries’, or sometimes even just ‘enquiries’) is the process before exchange of contracts when the buyer’s solicitor formally raises queries with the seller’s solicitor.

The reason for enquiries is because the legal principle of ‘buyer beware’ very much applies to buying houses, and it is the responsibility of the buyer’s solicitor to make sure you know what it is you are buying – warts and all….!

The enquiries process requires your solicitor to wait on replies from other people – the other solicitors, the local planning office, and so on.  This can make it a drawn out and frustrating time for everyone.  Here, we look at examples of the most common pre-contract enquiries.

  1. Planning consents – following receipt of your local authority search the buyer’s solicitor may well raise formal enquiries with the seller (via their solicitor) around planning consents
  2. Building Regulations – rather like the issue of planning (above), the local authority search may raise other relates issues around building regulations
  3. Gas safety and electrical certificates – are all gas connections/required items (eg boilers) appropriately certified, and has all electrical work been carried out by a qualified electrician and certified to the correct level?
  4. Flood Risk – following receipt of the environmental search it may be necessary to explore flood risk further

Pre-contract enquiries can feel long a long slog in a conveyance.

  1. Contaminated land – the environmental search may also throw up issues of contamination, or even issues such as disused mines (in certain areas of the country)
  2. Mains water and waste drains – are there appropriate connections to and from the property/the mains?
  3. Legal Peculiarities – are there any legal oddities such as easements or covenants that have not been adhered to (these are restrictions held within the legal title of a property and can include things such as not to build certain things, or use the land for certain purposes)
  4. Leasehold – there is often lots to clarify with leasehold properties including clarifying shared maintenance costs, length of the lease, and what the management companies do (and do not) do!
  5. Structural – your survey may raise question marks over the physical bricks and mortar that may end up as part of the ‘enquiries’ stage.
  6. What stays and what goes – simple stuff like is the fridge staying may be included in the pre-contract enquiries

So there you have it, 10 top examples of the sorts of things that will form part of the conveyancing enquiries stage of your conveyance.  Your solicitor will of course let you know when the enquiries stage is happening, and is likely to discuss with you those enquiries that they will be submitting to the seller.

Be patient!

And remember, your solicitor (as the buyer) can only do so much – you can take a horse to water but you cant make them drink!  If your seller (or their solicitor) decides that they want to delay answering, there really is nothing in law that the solicitor for the buyer can do to hurry that process up.  And, also remember that if you are in a chain, then it is likely that, for exchange of contracts to happen, everyone’s enquiries up and down the chain will need to be finalised before exchange of contracts can take place.  This is because exchange of contracts tends to happen up and down a chain at the same time – hence everyone needs to be set to go and that includes everyone having had all of their pre contract enquiries answered satisfactorily.

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