I was thinking about the ongoing debate on LinkedIn about additional enquiries, and I think that there is something firms could do which would help with the need to raise what many would see as unnecessary enquiries. So, without being controversial and trying to teach lawyers how to do the job properly, can I please suggest a few things …
Please check the Property Information Form before sending it to the buyers’ solicitor. I know how easy it can be to assume that the client has answered the form correctly. We receive it by email and just send it straight on to the buyers’ solicitor without looking at it. And you know that some of us can tell when this has happened by two easy points – the first is when the seller has ticked “no” to the question as to whether the house is being sold with vacant possession. The second is when the seller has ticked to say that the sale proceeds are not sufficient to repay the mortgage. Obviously, there is also the point that some clients don’t answer other questions correctly but I do understand that it is so easy for us to forget that clients have never seen the form before. We all know the form inside out – how many pages there are, what question one is about – that we do forget that it is the first time that the majority of clients have ever had to complete the form. Just looking at the client’s answers before sending on the forms would save on unnecessary enquiries.
Secondly, if the property is leasehold, order the Leasehold Information Pack without being asked to do so. You will know when looking at the office copy entries whether the property is freehold or leasehold, and make sure that you collate the right information at that point.
If when you look at the office copy entries, you note that there is a restriction, think about how you or the buyers’ solicitor are going to satisfy the restriction. If a freehold property, do you need to get a Freehold Management Pack? Has the seller said in the replies to the Property Information form that he pays a management charge?
Be proactive, not reactive. Don’t wait to be asked for these documents.
This is written by a real high street conveyancer who wishes to remain anonymous. Read more in Today’s Conveyancer every week.