The Practical Lawyer


SDLT – 3% extra

There is much concern about the 1 April 2016 implementation of the 3% additional SDLT rate on purchases of additional residential properties.

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Land Registry – updated

The LR aims to identify any defects, and so reject a defective application, on the day it is received. And it will not normally reject an application once it has been with the LR for three business days – but that period has now been extended to five business days (ie the LR has given itself an extension of two business days in deciding whether or not to reject an application). Note that this time period does not apply to applications lodged without a fee or applications for a discharge.

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Law Society – Veyo

The Law Society has quietly abandoned its high-profile conveyancing project, Veyo. Over 1,800 law firms had ‘expressed an interest’ in the project, with about 80 signing up to work on the first development phase.

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CON 29 – July 2016

   A new version of CON29 (and Optional Enquiries, CON 29 O) was first announced in February 2014. They will (finally) come into use on 4 July 2016.


Land Registry – e-mail

LR e-mail addresses are changing from 30 January 2016 (the ‘gsi’ disappears from the e-mail address – thus '' becomes ''. Clearly, all systems with pre-loaded e-mail addresses need to be updated.

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Retirement flats – event payments

Retirement property leases will often contain an ‘event fee’ clause requiring the lessee to pay a fee in certain circumstances. For instance, this might be on sale, but it may also apply (to the surprise of the lessee) if a carer moves in, or if the lessee goes into residential care, or even if the lessee simply wants to sub-let or take out an equity release mortgage. At the same time, event fees might be charged in return for the deferral of service charge fees (with the fees then being paid on disposal, with the proceeds either going to the developer or into the maintenance fund).

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Japanese knotweed – pre-contract enquiries

Japanese knotweed can lie dormant for up to 20 years, especially after poor herbicide treatment. It has been estimated that over 1% of domestic properties are, or have been, infested, all of whom could have several neighbouring properties that are unknowingly infested as well.

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Buyer – early occupation

   If a buyer is to be allowed into occupation before completion then condition 5.2 of the 5th edition of the standard conditions of sale has comprehensive safeguards.

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CLM Handbook – insurance

From 30 November 2015, individual lenders are no longer able to impose specific insurance requirements in Part 2 of the CML Handbook.

This applies to certificates of title lodged from 30 November. Clause 6.14 in Part 1 will continue to require conveyancers to make reasonable enquiries that buildings insurance has been arranged, and to remind the borrower that there must be buildings insurance as per the mortgage conditions. However, 6.14 does not specify the type of buildings insurance, nor the type of risk, nor is there any reference to making sure the value insured is adequate. In essence, it seems that it will now be sufficient for the conveyancer to simply get confirmation from the borrower that insurance is in place, and that it accords with the mortgage conditions.

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Architect’s certificate – disadvantages

As an alternative to an NHBC ten-year warranty, a developer may offer instead an architect’s certificate (based on an architect’s inspection). But, a buyer – and especially a subsequent buyer – may be disadvantaged by this.

This is well illustrated by a case in which an architect’s certificate had been supplied in respect of a block of flats. Serious structural defects emerged and it was clear the architect had done a bad job. Accordingly, the various flat owners (some of whom were original buyers, and others were subsequent buyers) sued the architect. But, no one had a contract with the architect and thus the claim had to be based on either (i) negligent misrepresentation, or (ii) a special relationship arising out of the assumption of responsibility by the architect (under Hedley Byrne [1964]). 

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