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Residential Conveyancing Glossary of Terms



Abstract of Title or
Epitome of Title

A schedule listing the documents which set out the history of ownership of a property.

Adopted Highway

A road maintained by the local authority.

Assured Shorthold Tenancy

A special form of tenancy agreement designed to simplify the process of obtaining vacant possession of the property at the end of the agreed tenancy period.

Bankruptcy Search

A search of the Land Charges Register to see if any bankruptcy proceedings are pending or established against a person.


Where a property seller is also buying another property this is a chain of transactions and some chains can have many links.

CHAPS Transfer

On the day of completion the balance of the purchase price is paid by a transfer of funds between solicitors' client accounts by electronic transfer. CHAPS means Clearing Houses Automated Payment System.


A debt secured on the property e.g. the monies borrowed from a lender to purchase a house.

Cleared Funds

For example a cleared cheque, banker's draft, cash, CHAPS, telegraphic transfer or BACS payment. The solicitor would required cleared funds in order to complete any purchase or a sale where this is negative equity.

Client Care Letter

Solicitors will send a client letter containing details of what services will be provided and a breakdown of the cost, in addition to the solicitor's complaints procedure. This is a formal contract and should be read thoroughly.


The moment when the buyer becomes the new owner of the seller's house and the seller must have left the property.

Completion Statement or Financial Statement

A written calculation of all the receipts and payments due in respect of the transaction.


The form of legal agreement prepared in duplicate for signature by the seller and buyer setting out all the legal rights and obligations agreed between them.


A common name for the legal document that officially confirms the sale or purchase of a property or piece of land. Nowadays the transfer is conducted using a Transfer deed/document although in some cases a conveyance may be used.


Legal obligations

Deed of Covenant

A document confirming an agreement to pay or do something.

Deed of Gift

A document transferring ownership of a property from one person to another without any payment being made.

Deed of Guarantee

A document used where one person agrees to be responsible for someone else's debt or mortgage obligations if that person fails to carry out their own obligations.

Deed of Trust

A document used to set out the terms under which property is held by Tenants in Common especially if the owners are not married or put differing amounts of money into the property.


The official documents confirming who owns a property which are in the possession of the owner or mortgagee if the property is mortgaged. These are now largely obsolete as Titles are held electronically at HM Land Registry.


The agreed amount to be paid on exchange of contracts usually forfeited if the buyer fails to complete. Normally 10% of the purchase price.


Payments made on your behalf e.g. search fees.

Drainage Search

Enquiries of the drainage company as to mains sewers and water pipes.

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A right over another person's piece of land e.g. a right of way.

Environmental Search

A search against a property to check whether there is any record kept to suggest that the property may be affected by contamination or other environmental issues.


Usually means the difference between the value of a property and the amount owed to the mortgagee.

Exchange of Contracts

The formal exchanging of two parts of the contract when the seller and buyer become legally bound to complete on an agreed date and in the case of the seller, to move out of the property.

FENSA Certificate

Type of certificate which shows that newly installed windows are safe and use required materials. Since 1st August 2002 a FENSA Certificate or Building Regulation Completion Certificate has been required when replacing windows and the absence of this can create problems on a conveyancing transaction.

Fixtures Fittings & Contents Form

A standard form where the seller sets out all those items in the property which they have agreed to leave as part of the sale price and which is attached to and forms part of the contract.

Flying/Creeping Freehold

This arises when part of one property is built on top of part of another property and so the upper property owner does not own the building or land underneath the "flying" part. Consequently the lower property is known as the "creeping" part.


Absolute ownership in land.

Full Title Guarantee

An assurance by the owner of unfettered ownership.

Ground Rent

This is paid by a lessee to a lessor where a property is leasehold and is usually expressed as a yearly sum.

Identification Check

From 1st March 2004 to comply with the Money Laundering Regulations and anti-terrorist legislation, we will be obliged to ask for identification. Usually your passport or driving licence and a recent utility bill (in the last 3 months) will be sufficient.

Index Map Search

A search undertaken at the Land Registry to determine whether a premises is registered or unregistered.

Joint Tenants

A form of ownership of a property where on the death of one of the co-owners the property passes to the surviving co-owner(s) i.e. you cannot leave your "share" in a Will.

Land Charges Search

If a property is unregistered a search at the Land Charges Registry is made to see if a person has any bankruptcy proceedings pending or established or to see if there are any mortgages or interest registered which affect the property.

Land Registry

A government organisation maintaining a register of properties and their ownership in England and Wales. Commonly abbreviated to HMLR.

Land Registry Fee

The fee payable to the Land Registry to register any change affecting the property including a change of ownership.

Land Registry Search

A search at the Land Registry to check that no undisclosed charges or interests are registered against the property.


Where a property is leasehold this is the document giving the lessee the rights to possession of the property for the lease term and setting out all the rights and obligations.


Where the ownership of property is for a limited period only. For example 99 years or sometimes 2,000 years. Possession of the property will be subject to the payment of an annual ground rent.


Where a property is leasehold the lessee means the current owner of the leasehold property as opposed to the freeholder or landlord whose interest is subject to the lessee's right of occupation until the lease term has come to an end.


The person who owns the superior title and is entitled to the ground rent under the lease and possession of the property at the end of the lease term.

Limited Title Guarantee

This is the title guarantee given by a seller where because of their limited knowledge of the property the full title guarantee cannot be given (e.g. a personal representative of deceased owner or a mortgagee in possession.)

Local Search

A search carried out at the local authority to check whether there have been any notices registered affecting the use of the property or any proposals for the neighbourhood which may directly affect the property.

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Mortgage Deed

The document signed by the mortgagor to create a legal charge which the mortgagee can register at the Land Registry.

NHBC Guarantee

A 10 year guarantee provided by the National House Building Council that a property's builder will put right serious defects affecting a newly-built property.

Office Copies

These are official copies of the Land Registers sent to the buyer's solicitors to prove the seller's title to the property.

Party Wall

A wall owned jointly with a neighbour and repairable at shared expense.

Pre-Completion Searches

These are undertaken by your conveyancing provider before contracts are exchanged. They check to see if you have been bankrupt and that the property in question is legally owned by the seller.

Property Information Form

A document completed by a seller to give information about the property to the buyer (e.g. who maintains boundaries and whether there have been any disputes.)

Radon Gas

A naturally occurring radioactive gas which may if above certain safety levels require preventative action to be taken (e.g. more ventilation in a property).

Redemption Penalty

A penalty charged by a mortgagee when you redeem a mortgage within a fixed rate, discounted rate or cashback period.

Registered Land

Property which has already been registered at the Land Registry.

Report on Title

A report required by the lender and supplied by the buyer's solicitor containing information about the property. Also known as a Certificate of Title.

Stamp Duty Land Tax

A tax paid to the government on the purchase of a property over a certain value. This is a personal tax liability payable by the buyer. Commonly abbreviated to SDLT.

Tenants In Common

A form of co-ownership where on the death of the co-owners the remaining owner(s) is (are) not automatically entitled to the deceased's share in the property. The deceased's share will pass in accordance with their wishes contained within their Will.


The owner's right to a property.


A document which transfers ownership of a property from one person to another.

Transfer of Equity

A document transferring ownership of a share or interest in a property from one person to another. E.g. from sole to joint names or vice versa.

Unregistered Title

Where the title to a property has not previously been registered at the Land Registry and ownership is proved by the production or a complete chain of documents showing successive ownership.

Vacant Possession

Possession of a property free of the presence of any people, possessions or rubbish.

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