Many thanks to those users of the website who have pinged in questions on the back of my blogs about conveyancing and title deeds. Here are answers to some of the most common questions you have asked.
1. Can a solicitor sell a house if part of the deeds are missing?
Yes. title deeds are either Sasine deeds (pre-Land Registration system) which are recorded in the Register of Sasines and can be either copied or extracted from that if the stamped original is missing, or Land Register of Scotland Land Certificates. The latter is just a big computer database and any number of copies (full or part) can be downloaded. We are slowly moving to a paperless conveyancing system anyway, and a great deal of any transaction is done online, searches, reports, communications of various sorts are all done by email.
2. How should solicitors charge for storing deeds?
That is a matter of agreement between the solicitor and the client. The fundamental thing is that a solicitor should let a client know any and all charges in writing before the client is committed to the matter in hand. So a sufficient quote must be offered before a solicitor can make the charge.
3. Permission for alterations to the property – should this be kept with the deeds?
This is not essential, and not a matter of law, but it is good management to keep everything in one place. If there has been a conservatory built, then assuming planning permission, a building warrant and completion certificate, perhaps with an electrical certificate, and all the relevant plans, have been obtained, then it is best that they are kept with the deeds, so that when you come to sell maybe 8 years later, you don’t have to scrabble around in boxes in the loft to find these documents. The purchaser will be entitled to insist on seeing them and checking them ( and then have them passed over when the sale completes), so best if they are ready at hand with the deeds.
4. when I buy, should my solicitor give me a copy of a title deed?
It is a very good idea, so that before you buy, you will have had a chance to see the deed with all its conditions for the use of the property, and a plan confirming the boundaries ( it is unlikely you would be getting the wrong property, but seeing the Land Certificate and plan will prevent such a mistake – more importantly you will be sure where your exact boundaries are). It might be that the certificate specifies how many , if any, pets you may have, or that you may not add that conservatory without getting permission from neighbours – and lots more. Also if you have a copy to keep after completion, it is a useful thing to have if any boundary or neighborhood dispute comes up, and saves you having to incur immediately cost in consulting your solicitor again to look out the title deed. If the matter is clear enough from the Land Certificate, then it may be ok to do a bit of legal DIY
5. Average time to buy a house Scotland?
Piece of string question. Depends on various factors, but one would normally say between 4 and 8 weeks. I have seen transactions taken from A-Z in a matter of hours in an emergency, but generally, with agreeing quite detailed missives, examining titles and searches, getting mortgage papers processed and all the hundreds of jobs small and large involved in any transaction, it is wise not to rush things. At the other end of the scale, a date of entry many weeks or even months in the future may be appropriate as long this suits the seller and buyer, and missives are concluded and a binding contract is constituted as soon as possible so neither gazumping nor gazundering can take place.