Conveyancing News
Domestic and Commercial Property

The Conveyancing team is headed by Nicholas Buckley, one of the Solicitor members of Pooleys LLP; he has been practising law for over thirty years and is supported by Conveyancing Assistant Julie Down.   The team has deep knowledge of housing matters and great experience in representing both landlords and tenants.   It has good connections with other professional, Planners, Surveyors, Estate Agents and Architects, all of whom can be helpful, not least in commercial property transactions.

The difficulties and stress which can arise in buying or selling a property should not be under estimated. With our connections we are able to ease difficulties and resolve potential problems. The Conveyancing team take pride in offering our clients an extremely user friendly service.

Home Information Packs

As was widely publicised in the media, the current coalition government – as one of its first actions – removed the requirement for Home Information Packs (HIPS) which had been required upon almost all sales or lettings of houses or flats since November 2007.

However an Energy Performance Certificate is still required; an assessment for this purpose must be carried out by a qualified Energy Assessor.  Pooleys have their own Energy Assessor who can carry out assessments of property at a time to suit the client.

Do therefore instruct Pooleys to prepare your Energy Performance Certificate.  For more information please contact Julie Down on Swindon 488848 or by email at julie.down@pooleyssolicitors.co.uk. Contact Pooleys for special offer in the Conveyancing department.

Shared Ownership

When ownership of a house (or of any land) is shared, it is important that this be arranged in a way which is suitable to individual requirements. English law recognises two types of shared ownership; “joint tenancy” and “tenancy in common”.

Joint Tenancy; when two (or more) sharing owners hold property as Joint Tenants each of them is an absolute owner of the property. Though there are no divided shares, each joint tenant effectively shares equally with the other – or others. On the death of a jointly sharing owner the property passes automatically to the survivor – or equally to the survivors; the Will of the dead sharing owner (under joint tenancy) will not affect the position. For this reason a married couple usually shares ownership of the family home as joint tenants; this means that upon the death of one spouse, the survivor becomes sole owner of the whole of the house. This results from the existence of a joint tenancy, and is not affected by the Will of the first spouse to die. Joint tenancy means that the shares must be held equally by the owners.

Tenancy in common; when two (or more) sharing owners hold property as Tenants in Common each sharing owner has a divided share, the shares not necessarily being equal. The owner of each share can effectively give part of that share by Will, or by gift – or sale. This method of holding property is widespread, as between owners who are in business together (perhaps as business partners) owning commercial premises as tenants in common. Tenancy in common may be apt in other circumstances, perhaps where two friends own a property, particularly when financial contributions are uneven, one party having contributed more than half the deposit - or mortgage repayments having been made unequally. It is possible to stipulate that property be held (under tenancy in common) in any proportions that may be desired, from 50%:50% to 99%:1%, or in any other combination of shares. Unmarried couples are often well advised to share ownership as tenants in common; there should be a written agreement to cover such matters as death of either party, or the ending of the relationship, in which case one partner may wish to buy out the other; agreement should cover the liability for outgoings, and the division of increases (or decreases) in value. Tenancy in common may also be appropriate for a married couple, perhaps when one is beyond retiring age or if, for some reason, the property is not intended to pass to the survivor, on the death of the first spouse. In some circumstances Inheritance Tax can thus be reduced or avoided. In other circumstances it may be possible to increase state benefits for the survivor, by a trust arrangement excluding the value of the house share (formerly owned by the first spouse to die) from means testing – perhaps for cost of long term care of the survivor. To protect thus any part of the value from means testing, it is essential that shared property be held under tenancy in common.

A joint tenancy can easily be altered to an equal-sharing tenancy in common; to effect this any joint owner need only give written notice to all of the other joint owners, the notice being effective when all of the joint owners are aware of it; written acknowledgement is not strictly required but it is obviously wise to obtain it. Though a joint tenancy can be altered in other ways, for example by a course of action inconsistent with continued joint tenancy, it is not safe to rely on anything except written notice. In particular it should be noted that the making of a Will (even if specifically dealing with owned property in shared ownership) is unlikely to convert a joint tenancy to tenancy in common.