You’re in the midst of purchasing your dream home, or perhaps you’re already in your perfect property caught up in a whirlwind, but do you really know your rights when it comes to owning your own property?
The experts at Taylor Rose have put together a note, below, of some of the key areas you may want to consider before you go signing contracts and parting with the big bucks. Whether you’re yet to sign on the dotted line or are planning a property renovation it’s certainly worth a read.
Buying as a Couple or Group
If you’re not buying on your own and are purchasing a property with a partner or a group then there are two options available; joint tenancy and tenancy in common.
Joint tenants are considered to be as one where the law is concerned and are required to take out a joint mortgage. They would therefore be unable to mortgage their proportion of the property and cannot pass on their share of the home in a will as it would go to the other joint tenant.
Tenancy in common is often a popular choice for groups of up to 4 people as tenants aren’t required to have equal shares in the property. This means that each member of the group can leave their share in a will to someone of their choosing rather than a co-tenant. In theory they could also find their own mortgage agreement, but it may be difficult to find a lender who would agree to such circumstances.
If you don’t have enough money for a deposit or mortgage on your own or don’t want to purchase with a partner or group then shared ownership is another option you may want to consider.
Shared ownership enables home buyers to purchase a home with a stake in the mortgage and then pay rent on the remaining share to the other party – often a housing association or developer.
Whilst shared ownership is a great way to get on the property ladder there are a few things you may want to consider before you go ahead. The rent you pay may be on a discounted rate, but purchasing a higher share in the mortgage can be costly although in time this will reduce the rent you pay. The property is also likely to be a leasehold meaning you will need to contribute to a maintenance charge and restrictions are likely to be in place as to whether you can rent the property out.
Offer Acceptance to Completion
Putting in an offer is the calm before the storm, because once that offer has been accepted things seem to take forever. The process is supposedly meant to take around 3 months but things can drag on a whole lot longer than that.
Once you’ve found a solicitor, you’ll instruct them to complete the conveyancing process for you. They will then request the contact from the sellers solicitor, before raising any queries or concerns on anything that may stand out. You’ll also receive a fixtures and fittings list of what’s included in the sale. Property searches will also need to be completed as well as surveys and valuations. Once all has been deemed satisfactory then you’re ready to sign and exchange contracts.
Once contracts have been exchanged the property purchase becomes legally binding and if anyone pulls of the sale then it can be extremely costly. Contracts are usually exchanged a minimum of 7 days before completion (the date you get the keys) but it is possible to exchange and complete on the same day.
When buying a property we all want to put our own stamp on the place but there may be times when you need to seek planning permission especially if you’re planning on making some bigger changes to the property.
The Planning Portal is one of the best places to seek guidance from as it allows you to take an interactive tour of what you do and don’t need permission for. Permitted developments often include loft conversions and conservatories but it’s always best to check first.
If you’re extending then you don’t always need to get planning permission prior to the works as it largely depends on the size of the extension proposed, position and where it sits against boundary lines.
Renting a Room
Renting out your whole property or just a room in your home is a great way to make extra money or pay off the mortgage but if you don’t seek legal advice it can become a bit of a minefield.
It’s often easiest to instruct a letting agent to help you with the process and enlist the help of a solicitor too to check all agreements and contracts are as they should be. A tenancy agreement is the contract created between you and your tenant and will set out all the terms of renting the property.
There are a few different types of tenancy but the most common are; assured shorthold tenancy, where the rent is for a fixed term and assured tenancy, where the landlord and tenant have greater rights in ending or prolonging the tenancy.
A happy home certainly doesn’t involve being on the wrong side of the law, so whatever your home situation, knowing your rights whether you’re buying, renting or renovating is essential.
Contribution from Taylor Rose, solicitors specialising in high value and complex litigation, property and commercial law.