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PPA : Spinnaker Tower
PPA : Spinnaker Tower

Exchange & completion – making it legal & getting your keys

The legal process to buy and sell a house can be a daunting task with confusing legal jargon thrown in for good measure.

What is “exchange of contracts”?

This is the point when you are legally committed. This is usually done over the telephone by the solicitors once everything is signed and ready and everyone has provisionally agreed a moving date. You should not make any firm removal arrangements or make any other commitments until contracts are“exchanged”.

What is the “completion date”?

The completion date is the moving date when a buyer can collects the keys and the seller has to moveout. The completion date will not be definite until contracts have been exchanged.

How long will it take to get to exchange?

An average timescale tends to be a few weeks but it can vary depending on particular circumstances.

What needs to be done to get to exchange?

As a seller, you need to provide certain information to your solicitor and they will need to send contract papers to the buyer’s solicitor.

As a buyer, you will need to sort financial arrangements and any survey. Specific searches and other checks need to made on the property which your solicitor should discuss with you before you proceed to exchange of contracts.

Thinking about moving but not yet underway – what can be done now?

Even if you are not yet on the market or have not found a property to buy, it is worth making early enquiries with a solicitor to check likely costs and discuss your particular circumstances in more detail. Your solicitor can help you with the forms for the legal process so it is often worth having the paperwork sorted in advance to help minimise any delay.

by Dawn Patterson Associate Solicitor at Glanvilles and PPA committee member.Tel. 023 9249 2300 email. d.patterson@glanvilles.co.uk December 2010

Branches in: Fareham, Havant
Members: Gareth Maddern, Lorna Newnham, Mark Watson, Samantha Marsh

Stamp duty – March 2011

 I wrote about Stamp Duty Land Tax last year – I
know it is never a popular subject but with the recent Budget I thought it
worthwhile revisiting the tax you might have to pay when purchasing land or property.
Stamp Duty Land Tax (SDLT) is generally the main tax to think about.

 

What are the rates of SDLT?

SDLT rates vary on different types of property and
the value of the transaction.

 

The starting threshold is still currently
£125,000.00 and assuming you are buying a residential house the current rates
are:

Up to £125,000.00 – Zero

£125,001.00 – £250,000.00 – 1%

£250,001 – £500,000.00 – 3%

£500,001.00 and above – 4%

From 6th April 2011 transactions over 1 million –
5%

 

Note: some postcodes qualify for a higher starting
threshold of £150,000.00 and there are some extra considerations if you are
buying a new residential lease.

 

What if I am a First Time Buyer?

• There is still at this time a First Time Buyer
relief for purchases up to £250,000.00, meaning there will be no tax to pay on
purchases up to and including that price but over that price, the rates above
will still apply.

• Please note however that the First Time Buyer
incentive was previously expected to last until 24 March 2012 but it has been
announced that there is currently a review of this incentive and the outcome is
expected to be announced in the autumn – whether that is a review to extend the
incentive or end it is not known!

• You will need to ensure you satisfy certain
conditions to be classed as a ‘first time buyer’ – you must never have owned or
part-owned any land or property anywhere in the world prior to the transaction.
If it is a purchase by more than one person, you will only qualify if all of
you satisfy this condition.

 

Your solicitor and/or tax
adviser will be able to give you specific advice on all of the above for your
particular transaction. SDLT rates differ from the above for non-residential or
mixed use properties (part residential and non-residential) and further advice
should be taken from a commercial property solicitor and/or your tax adviser.

 

By Dawn Patterson, Associate Solicitor at
Glanvilles and PPA committee member.

Tel. 023 9249 2300

Email. d.patterson@glanvilles.co.uk

February 2011

Branches in: Fareham, Havant
Members: Gareth Maddern, Lorna Newnham, Mark Watson, Samantha Marsh

The Great Morass

Ask
most people in Portsmouth
about The Great Morass and they will
probably have heard of it or know a little about it but not many will really
have any idea what it really is.
 

A Morass; Definition

morass noun (WET GROUND)

/məˈræs/ n [C usually singular]

literary an area of soft wet ground in which it is easy to get
stuck

A
good deal of what is now Portsmouth
was, prior to settlement, made up of marsh land and mud, as might be expected
due to the proximity of The Solent. Much of this land was however suitable for
habitation but there were two areas that were much wetter and more daunting
even for adventurous would be builders!

The Little
Morass stood near Old Portsmouth and this was drained and re shaped in the area
between the Camber Dock and the western end of the common in the years between
1820-1825.
 

It
was to be the best part of forty more years before attention turned to the
larger Great Morass, which lay to the South East.
 

The
suburb of Southsea (named after HenryVIII’s castle) had expanded from it’s
beginnings around Hampshire and Landport Terraces, built at the time as houses
for the middle classes and now of course the home to many of the cities
professional firms.
 

As
the 19th century progressed and the city grew so the demand for building
land became ever greater and by the second half of that century, with the
villages of Fratton and Buckland having been swallowed up by the expanding city
and the land of Mr Somers (Somerstown) having been built upon, the engineers of
the mid Victorian period turned their attention to the south and to taming the
Great Morass.
 

The
Great Morass was, as suggested by the name a much larger area of very wet
marshland in the shape of a hand, reaching up from The Solent from an inlet at
a point approximately between the site of South Parade Pier and where The
Pyramids Centre now stands.
 

One
of the fingers ran north as far as the spring that fed it, in Albert Road,
beneath what is now The Kings Theatre and this is to this day pumped out to
prevent flooding.

The
draining of the Morass led to a huge expansion of Southsea, the Ordnance Survey
Maps of 1870 and 1898 bearing testimony to the rapid expansion in this
relatively short period. The additional land that was available from the
drainage works being swallowed up under housing along with any number of Nurseries’s
and sadly the East Hants Cricket Ground, which vanished under what is now Worthing Road and Taswell Road. The
railway also arrived with East Southsea Station opening in 1885.
 

The
eastern most finger of the Morass was the last to go, though it has never
disappeared completely and in fact part of it is now that well known Southsea
landmark, The Canoe Lake. Constructed under the supervision of the Borough
Engineer H P Boulnois at a cost of £3,000 the lake was opened by Mayor A S
Blake on 17th June 1886 and is topped up by opening a sluice gate to
The Solent at high tide.
 

It
could be argued that while this last vestige of the Morass was brought under
control at that time the Morass has in fact never really been fully tamed.
Parts of Southsea continued to be more susceptible to flooding than other parts
of the city with the flooding of September 2000 being a very good example, when
the water pumping station was itself overwhelmed by flood water!
 

Additionally,
the poor quality of the ground in parts has led to subsidence and structural
issues in some properties, though in the last 20 years many of these issues
have been remedied and modern building methods do seem to have overcome this
issue in new buildings.

Tenants be aware – Landlords beware!

Surely you would think, that all Landlord’s are aware that their AST (assured shorthold tenancy) deposits must be secured in a recognised scheme?

It would appear not, as we increasingly come across properties with unprotected deposits.  I am sure there are some new landlord’s who are unaware of these regulations, which we now take for granted?  Further, there is no doubt a small minority, for whom the initial concern of falling foul of the law has passed and a more ‘relaxed’ approach to deposits appears to have taken hold and so, our reminder: 

Since 6 April 2007, all deposits paid by occupiers under an AST must be protected in a recognised scheme, please visit the private renting pages of www.direct.gov.uk for more information on the schemes available.  This must be done within 14 days of receiving the deposit or sanctions could apply.  These sanctions mean that the tenant could ask the court for the return of the deposit and an order requiring the landlord to pay them three times the deposit and in addition Landlords, please remember, you cannot serve a section 22 notice to gain possession of your property as long as the deposit remains unprotected.

Since The Assured Tenancies (Amendment) (England) Order 2010 came into force on the 1st October 2010 this now applies to annual rents of upto £100,000 from the original £25,000, so even more private rentals are covered by the deposit scheme. 

Our final word?  To all tenants, check your deposit is protected.  All the information regarding the deposit scheme your landlord or their agent use should be included in your AST agreement.  To all new landlords, we would strongly recommend that you seek professional advice before entering into an assured shorthold tenancy agreement.  Your advisor could help you avoid a costly mistake.

Branches in: Fareham

Inventory prevents invention

 It is surprising how often Landlords and Tenants alike, avoid having an
inventory prepared to save a few pounds, despite the fact that there is a
significant sum at stake in the event of a dispute.  The changes in 2007, to the way assured
shorthold tenancy deposits are dealt with and their subsequent return is
intended to avoid landlord’s inventing claims and the inventory is a key part
of this protection.
 

The inventory once signed by both parties forms part of the Tenancy
Agreement and is simply a record of the content and condition of the property,
on the day the tenancy starts.  The
inclusion of photographic evidence of condition will further strengthen the
value of the report.
 

When considering whether there is a valid claim against the deposit when
the tenancy ends, both Landlord and Tenant should be aware that the property
does not have to be returned in exactly the same condition in which it was
taken.  Consideration must be given to
‘fair wear and tear’, the interpretation of which will vary, depending upon the
type of tenant and the length of occupation. 
For example, a couple with a child who have been in occupation of a two
bedroom house for a year will inevitably impact more on a property than a
single individual in the same house for the same period.
 

To establish the condition of the property beyond simple wear and tear, Tenants
are strongly advised to take the time to check the inventory room by room.  An inventory can only properly protect both
parties, if it is dealt with thoroughly and with a critical eye at the start of
the tenancy.
 

The inventory is essential!  It will ensure a secure basis for any
landlord claim and will also ensure that tenant’s are not held responsible for inappropriate
charges.

Branches in: Fareham