Conveyancing is the legal process of transferring real (in Jersey called immovable) property ownership. The most common transactions involving immovable property are sales, but gifts, transfers to joint names and leases are also included.
Typically it is the purchase of a new home that will cause most people to seek legal advice in this area. You can buy the “freehold” or by “share-transfer” i.e. the purchase of shares in a company which already owns the building. Share transfer arrangements are often used in developments with apartments or flats with shared or common areas.
We will assist you in this process and try to make it as painless and smooth as possible.
We also deal with leases, both in the drafting process and in advising on issues including potential or actual disputes arising in respect of existing leases.
Generally, the sooner you take advice the better the prospects of resolving any problems with a minimum of stress, expense and unpleasantness.
If you identify a property that suits your needs and agree a price, you should first consider how you are raising the funds to pay for it.
Most people will need a loan, and the first step in raising a loan is to approach a lender or a mortgage broker to identify the best deal available to you.
When deciding how much you need to borrow you need to take into account the additional costs associated with the purchase, which typically include:
1. stamp duty
2. legal fees
3. valuation report
4. lender’s costs (generally their administrative and legal fees)
5. insurance (building’s insurance and life assurance)
6. enquiry letters (fees charged by public bodies and utility companies- see below)
The lender or broker will require information and documentation from you in order to process your application, which you can usefully gather in advance.
The documentation required will include the following:
1. Proof of identification, such as an identity card, passport or driving licence.
2. Confirmation of your residential address (original utility bills).
3. Confirmation of income, normally copies of pay slips for the last three months (both parties’ if the application is in joint names) or, if you are self-employed, copies of your business accounts for the last three years.
4. Copies of your bank statements for the last three months
4. Details of the property that you intend to buy.
Both you and the lender will need a survey of the property prior to the purchase. You because you need reassurance that you are getting value for your money and the lender to make sure that the property provides sufficient security for the loan. There are three main types of survey, which you should choose according to you particular circumstances:
1. Valuation Report
This is the most basic type of survey which simply provides confirmation as to the value of the property and is principally used by the bank to ensure that there is sufficient value in the property to discharge the mortgage if it were sold. It is the cheapest option but it tells you little as to the structural integrity of the property.
2. Homebuyer’s Report
This is the most frequently used type of survey. It provides a general report as to the condition of the property and, if appropriate, it will provide some practical suggestions as to repairs that should be carried out. It will also provide a valuation of the property which will be relied upon by the lender.
3. Full Structural Survey
This provides a full and detailed report as to the condition of the premises. As it is the most expensive option, most people will only obtain one when purchasing properties that are likely to have problems, such as an old property.
It is important that you know that you cannot rely on a survey or valuation that is prepared for the benefit of and addressed to the lender. If you wish to obtain a survey on which you can rely you must agree this prior to its preparation with the lender and the surveyor.
The service we provide
In Jersey, it is the responsibility of to the lawyer acting for you to check and certify the title to the property. The lender will also rely on our certificate of title.
In addition, we need to ensure that you acquire all the rights you need to enable you to use and enjoy your new property, such as rights of way, rights of access and rights for services such as drains, water, telephone and electricity.
You will also need to know about any restrictions that may apply to your use and enjoyment of the property and others’ rights over the property that may affect you, and whether there are loans secured on the property (which need to be discharged on the sale of the property to you).
In order to ensure that all the services are available and there are no plans by a public authority likely to affect the property, we will send out enquiry letters, as follows:
1. Jersey Electricity;
2. Jersey Gas;
3. Jersey Water;
5. Growth, Housing and Environment; and
6. Infrastructure, Housing and Environment.
We then carry out a site visit to check that the boundaries are as stated in the draft contract, that there are no encroachments on or by neighbouring properties and that that the routes of the services provide a connection to the property.
When there is a loan, we also liaise with the lender’s lawyers, oversee the signature of the loan documentation and provide a certificate of title
After discussing our research with you and liaising with the vendor’s lawyer in respect of any action required prior to completion, we will assist by attending at the Royal Court on a Friday afternoon (purchase of immovables) with you or on your behalf if you give us a Power of Attorney.
Prior to completion we need to receive the funds or any balance not covered by the loan. We will provide you with a completion statement setting out the flow of monies and the balance that we need to make available to us.
If you are buying (typically a flat) by way of share transfer you will be buying shares in the company which owns the freehold of the property. The shares will give you the exclusive right to occupy the flat in question and will impose duties to contribute to the maintenance of the property.
In such cases we also need to ensure the good standing of the company and the title to the shares, by checking the company’s statutory records and making a search at the Companies Registry. Completion does not have to be before the Royal Court and therefore can take place other than on a Friday.
The purchase of a property is a time when you may consider making or changing your wills. That is a service that we can also provide (see the Wills and Probate section).
If you are buying or selling a property and think we can help you, please contact us. We will be happy to provide further information and give you a quote of our fees.