What are conveyancing enquiries?
During your property transaction, you may hear your conveyancing solicitor refer to the additional enquiries, either being awaited, or being dealt with; but what are the enquiries and why are they so important?
The property conveyancing enquiries form an important part of the process, as this is the buyer’s opportunity to find out what they need to know about the property, before proceeding to Exchange of Contracts, and making the matter legally binding. The seller’s solicitor formulates the Contract pack, containing all relevant information about the property, inclusive of the title documents, the protocol forms and any other important documents. See more on the Contract pack, and what this entails, here.
The Contract pack is forwarded to the buyer’s solicitor, for review, who then raises their enquiries therein. This is the point at which specific queries can be raised, with the seller, in order to provide clarity in respect various items. See our Preston solicitors’ blog on the role the enquiries play, and why they are required, here.
There is, however, set guidance on the enquiries, and the manner in which they are to be raised. This is all outlined within the Conveyancing Protocol. The Protocol can be viewed, here.
The Protocol has, recently, seen updates in respect of conveyancing enquiries and has provided new guidance to your conveyancing solicitors. Under the new updates, there has been a focus on inappropriate enquiries being raised, and how to eradicate such issues being encountered.
The guidance, within the Protocol, makes provision in this regard and advises that, if inappropriate enquiries have been raised, then your conveyancer need not deal, or respond to, the same.
For example, enquires can often be raised where sufficient answers can be found within the Contract pack itself. For example, an enquiry is raised which asks if the property has ever been flooded. There is, however, a specific point within the Property Information Form that asks this question, therefore, this enquiry could be deemed unnecessary. Point 7.1 of the Property Information Form makes sufficient provision for flooding, and asks whether the property, as a whole or in part, has been subject to flooding. If the seller’s response is ‘yes’, the Form then goes on to require further confirmation as to what type of flooding occurred, such as ground water flooding, river flooding, etc. An enquiry which, therefore, asks ‘has the property been subject to flooding’ could be deemed unnecessary and may not be dealt with.
If, in contrast, the buyer’s solicitor raises a specific query in this regard, or the search results reveal a specific risk, specific enquiries may be raised. For example, the property is known to have been subject to flooding in the past, and the area is well known for the same. An enquiry which asks whether the seller has implemented any flood prevention measures at the property, in light of the known flood events, would, therefore, be reasonable. This is because the enquiry is specific, it provides the buyer with the information they require and is relevant.
As you can see, the enquiries should depend on the specific issues brough to light in connection with that individual property. The enquiries raised should be relevant to title matters, the property location, search results, etc. They should not be standardised and general, as this could constitute a breach of the Conveyancing Protocol, and do not have to be dealt with. The aim of the Protocol, in this regard, is to derive away from enquiries that seek the seller’s opinion as opposed to facts.
In addition, the Property Information Form has also seen developments, in order to assist. 7th February 2020 saw the introduction of the new Property Information Form. The updates include matters that discuss Japanese Knotweed, radon gas and septic tanks, for example. See our Preston solicitors’ blog for more on the updates, and why they have been implemented, here.
The Property Information Form updates allow for further specific information to be provided, in respect of these specific items. This, again, works to rid the need for unnecessary enquiries to be raised, where the appropriate information can simply be found within this Form, or, indeed, the Contract pack.
As you can see, all work in favour of ensuring the transaction runs smoothly, and that there is transparency throughout. Attempting to reduce the number of inappropriate enquiries being raised, in turn, works to avoid unnecessary delays in the matter.
So, whilst the conveyancing enquiries play an extremely important role within the process, there are certain guidelines that are to be followed. Our team of residential and commercial property experts are always keeping up to date with the ever-changing world of conveyancing, and the guidance that is to be followed. This way, our team are able to obtain the most useful information on your behalf, but in a way that is not set to unduly delay the matter.
What should I do if I have queries about the property?
The enquiries for no two properties are likely to be the same, as each property is different and can bring about different points of interest for your conveyancer. The enquiries can include a ream of different items, from providing certificates relating to works at the property, to clarity on who maintains a joint boundary, to title queries. As you can see, the enquiries can relate to all kinds of matters affecting the property.
It would be useful that, if you have any specific queries yourself about the property, to discuss these with your solicitor as, should the need arise, these can also be raised as specific enquiries to provide you with better knowledge of the property you are purchasing.
So, if you are buying or selling a property, and want to know more about conveyancing enquiries, and their relevance, contact us today, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Alternatively, submit your enquiry online, here, and our local solicitors will be on hand to assist with all of your conveyancing needs.