Jargon buster

Abstract title - A list of all documents that prove title to land.

Assign - To transfer the right or interest in a property from one person to another.

Assignee - The person to whom the right or interest of property is transferred.

Assignor - The person who transfers a right or interest of property to another person.

Banker’s draft - A cheque drawn directly from a bank’s funds, and not from an individual’s account.

Beneficial owner - The person or people who are entitled to receive the proceeds of a sale.

Breach of contract - Where one of the parties bound by a contract fails to keep to the contract’s terms and conditions.

Certificate or report on title - A report confirming the validity of the title and highlighting any issues. Provided to a lender to satisfy them that the title to the property is sufficient to secure the mortgage.

Charge - A legal right over a property usually as security for a loan/mortgage

Client account - A solicitor’s bank account where a client’s money is held.

Commonhold - A form of tenure involving the indefinite freehold tenure of part of a multi-occupancy building (typically an apartment)with shared ownership of and responsibility for common areas and services

Completion date - The date that a contract takes effect and property ownership passes from seller to buyer.

Completion statement - A list of all the financial aspects of a transaction. Produced by a solicitor, it sets the costs against the money being received and shows whether money needs to be paid to the client or whether a shortfall needs to be made up before completion.

Contract - A written and signed agreement between buyer and seller.

Contract race - When a seller deals with more than one prospective buyer and exchanges contracts with whichever is ready first.

Conveyancer - A person qualified to undertake conveyancing. Either a solicitor or licensed conveyancer.

Conveyancing - The term used to describe the legal process of transferring a property from one owner to the next.

Covenant - An agreement contained within a contract or a deed that binds somebody to do something (or not to do something).

Deed - A formal document that is executed by a formally witnessed signature.

Deposit - The amount of money paid by the buyer on exchange of contracts, usually 10% of the purchase price.

Disbursements - Fees paid by the buyers solicitor on his or her behalf, which include stamp duty, land registry and search fees.

Easement - A right granted over a property or land e.g. a right of way.

Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) - A report and certificate that assesses the energy efficiency of a property along with the environmental impact based on its CO2 emissions.

Environmental report - A report on the land uses of a property and its surroundings now and in the past. This will indicate the likelihood of contamination or pollution.

Exchange of contracts - The point at which the signed contracts to buy and sell are exchanged along with your deposit, to legally commit the buyer and seller to the transaction, at the price agreed.

Fixtures and fittings - Fixtures are items that have become part of a building or land and are therefore included in the sale. Fittings are not attached to the building or land and so are not included in the sale unless otherwise agreed. The seller will complete a fixtures and fittings form that will confirm what is included in the sale, what isn’t included, and what is for sale separately.

Freehold - When a property belongs entirely to the owner (subject to any mortgage or lease granted).

Ground rent - The charge made by the freeholder to the leaseholder as a right to occupy a property.

Indemnity insurance - Insurance against any aspect of a property transaction such as an adverse search result or breach of planning/building regulations. This will not solve any problems but it will provide compensation

Joint tenants - Where a property is purchased under joint tenancy. Normally used for husband and wife purchases because if one of the owners dies then his/her share will automatically pass to the survivor. Also see tenants in common.

Land Registry - The Government department responsible for registering ownership of land.

Lease - For a leasehold property, this document sets out the terms of occupation between landlord and tenant.

Leasehold - Owning a property for a fixed term but not the land on which it stands.

Local Authority Search - Application made to the Local Authority for information that may affect a property. The search results will show such things such as planning restrictions and whether the roads have been adopted and are maintained by the Council.

Maintenance charge - An amount paid by a leaseholder as a contribution to the cost of maintaining and repairing the structure of the building and its insurance. Can be paid to a landlord, managing agent or management company. Also known as service charge.

Management company - Company formed to manage obligations of a lease such as insurance and repairs.

Managing agents - Firm employed by a landlord or management company to arrange practical maintenance and general management of a building.

Mortgage - A charge secured against a property in return for a loan.

Mortgagee - The mortgage lender e.g. a bank or building society.

Mortgagor - The mortgage borrower.

NHBC - National House Builder Council. The NHBC provide an insurance backed warranty on new homes built by their members.

Office copies - Certified copies of entries on a register title, provided by the Land Registry.

Planning permission - Official consent/approval from a Local Authority for works undertaken on a property. For e.g an extension

Property Information Form (PIF) - Also known as a Protocol Form the PIF is provided by the seller's solicitor and is completed by the seller. It forms part of the conveyancing process and covers such matters as boundaries, services, guarantees for work carried out and planning consents.

Redemption - When a mortgage is settled.

Retention - Where a mortgage lender retains part of a loan, pending satisfactory completion of specified works.

Service charge - Amount paid by a leaseholder as a contribution to the cost of maintaining and repairing the structure of a building and its insurance. Can be paid to a landlord, managing agent or management company. Also known as maintenance charge.

Stamp Duty Land Tax (SDLT) - Tax payable to HM Revenue & Customs by the purchaser based on the price of the property.

Subject to contract - Negotiations between a buyer and seller before exchange of contracts. Any agreement is not binding until contracts are exchanged.

Telegraphic transfer - The electronic transfer of funds from one bank account to another.

Tenant - A person who pays rent for the use of property or land.

Tenants in common - Where a property is purchased jointly with equal or unequal shares. Upon death, the share in the property will pass to the beneficiaries of the deceased estate and not to the other tenants in common. Also see joint tenants.

Tenure - The type of ownership, either freehold, leasehold or commonhold.

Transfer deed - Land Registry deed transferring ownership to a buyer. This will be prepared by the buyer’s solicitor.

Underlease - A further lease of whole or part of a property granted by an existing tenant.

Vendor - The seller.