Handling your domestic conveyancing needs
A Personal and Residential Conveyancing Service
The property market in England and Wales affects everyone, shaping where and how we live, work and spend leisure time. Beyond this, the market also plays a vital role in the wider UK economy. As such, Freeman Johnson understands the importance of property/ residential conveyancing to homeowners. Property will always be a pillar of the firm.
Across Freeman Johnson, the firm performs efficient and friendly residential conveyancing work for each client – all while delivering value for money. Your conveyancing solicitor will have the expertise to understand your exact circumstances, objectives and priorities. Every case is unique, so you need conveyancing solicitors who understand this.
The foundation of our service is Freeman Johnson’s membership of the Conveyancing Quality Scheme, which is maintained by the Law Society to provide a recognised quality standard for residential conveyancing practice. You should accept nothing less than a firm that has taken the time and care to attain this standard.
If you contact any office the Conveyancer will give you a full breakdown of what you will pay to have your sale or purchase dealt with by Freeman Johnson. You will be told exactly what fee is to be paid to us together with the VAT. You will be told how much all of the searches are and any costs that are likely to be incurred when dealing with HM Land Registry. You will be given an indication as to what Stamp Duty, if any, is payable and whether there are any additional costs incurred when acting for your lender or bank.
North East Coverage
Freeman Johnson covers the North East by maintaining offices in Darlington, Durham and Northallerton. Each office has at least one full-time property solicitors who specialises in residential conveyancing work, with support staff also on hand.
Crucially, the firm hosts frequent team meetings to maintain a constant dialogue among all residential conveyancing solicitors. This network can prove invaluable support for cases which might present unique challenges. In every case, we want clients to feel like their conveyancing solicitor has exceeded their expectations.
Contact the residential conveyancing team
Please don’t hesitate to contact us with any questions about our legal services in County Durham and North Yorkshire.
If you require a mortgage in connection with your purchase, your lender will require us to carry out searches on your behalf. These also benefit you, of course, and they mean that you will have all the information about the property to hand before you commit yourself to exchange.
If you do not have a lender, you are not obliged to carry out any searches against the property however we would strongly recommend that you consider doing so. If any adverse matters are revealed in the search, you will be able to negotiate with the seller before exchange of contracts, for example if any planning documents are missing, or any works are required.
1. LOCAL AUTHORITY SEARCH
This searches the Register of Local Land Charges and raises enquiries with the local council. It reveals information relating to the property which you are intending to buy, for example:
• whether the road and the pavement directly outside the property are publicly maintained roads
• whether there are any current plans for road improvements or new roads within 200 metres of the property
• whether the property is in a conservation area
• whether the property is a listed building
The local search also reveals planning consents relating to the property, which we would then obtain copies of to ensure that any works had been properly carried out.
2. DRAINAGE AND WATER SEARCH
This checks the water authority’s records for information such as:
• whether foul and surface water drain to the public sewerage system
• whether there is a public sewer within the boundary of the property (which you must not build over)
• whether the property is connected to the mains water supply and whether this is metered or not
The search also includes plans showing the routes of the public sewers and mains.
3. ENVIRONMENTAL SEARCH
This searches the area within 500 metres of the property and will confirm whether the property would not be designated ‘contaminated land’ within the meaning of Part II(a) of the Environmental Protection Act 1990. It contains maps showing environmental features in the area, and flood zones.
4. COAL MINING SEARCH (REQUIRED FOR PROPERTIES IN MINING AREAS)
This checks The Coal Authority’s national coal mining database. The report identifies the environmental and stability risk arising from any past, current and future underground and surface coal mining activity that affects a property. This includes information on mineshafts, subsidence claims, reported hazards and mine gas emissions that may affect the property.
It is your responsibility to ensure that you can obtain comprehensive insurance cover on the property – to include flood damage – prior to exchange of contracts. We can carry out a Flood Report on your behalf if you wish. More information on the detail the report covers and a sample report can be found online at:https://www.homecheckpro.co.uk/ProductPage.do?articleId1=6415&articleId2=6416&headerImage=banner_flood.jpg
While the Local Authority search checks records held relating to the particular property you are purchasing, a PlanSearch can supply additional information about properties in the vicinity, and can include comments on the following development categories:
Open land (e.g. green belts/nature reserves)
Heritage environment (e.g. on historical buildings)
Town centres and retailing
Industrial and commercial
Community and social facilities
Waste, pollution, minerals, water and energy
Rural / settlement areas
Your conveyancer will be able to tell you the exact cost of each search as part of the quote we give you (the searches have different prices for different areas).
Your conveyancer will also be able to guide you about the likely timeframe for the searches to be returned, as this also varies depending on the exact location of your property.
This is the process where money which is obtained from the proceeds of crime is “laundered” so that it appears to be legitimate.
Law firms and Conveyancing Departments in particular, are often targeted by criminals seeking to launder the proceeds of criminal activity. To help prevent this, and to adhere with Anti Money Laundering Regulations, we are obliged to have evidence of the identity of all our clients every time we act for you. While this may seem inconvenient, it is an important way of reducing this type of crime.
We will require one document from List A and one document from List B. The document from List A must be current and the document from List B must be not more than 3 months old.
Photocard Driving licence
Other household bill (not mobile telephone)
If you have any difficulty providing documents of the kind listed, we will advise you of acceptable alternatives.
You do not require an appointment to produce your ID. You can simply call into one of our offices during office hours (Monday to Friday, 9am – 5pm) and our receptionist will be happy to take the certified copies.
Each person must come into the office with their own ID documents so that we can verify that the photograph is a true likeness. We cannot accept documents which you bring in on behalf of someone else.
If you are not able to attend our office, we can accept documents which have been certified by a different solicitor or legal practitioner, for example someone closer to where you live or work. They must sign the photocopy and state that they confirm that the copy is a true copy, and that the photograph is a true likeness. We will require the name and address of the person certifying the documents. We cannot accept copies certified by anyone other than a legal practitioner.
In this circumstance, we can accept copies certified by:
An Embassy Consulate or High Commission of the Country of issue
A qualified lawyer or notary
For international students, the Registrar of a UK higher education institution.
Again, we will require the name and address of the person certifying the documents.
We cannot accept photocopies or scanned copies of your ID.
We cannot accept original documents unless we have also seen you with your documents. Freeman Johnson does not accept liability for any original documents sent to us in the post.
If you are worried about meeting any of these criteria, please give us a call.
You have to pay Stamp Duty Land Tax (SDLT) if you buy a property in the UK over a certain price. This is charged on all purchases of houses, flats and other land and buildings.
THE SDLT RATE DEPENDS ON:
• the purchase price of the property
• whether the property is residential
• whether you own other property
Your Conveyancer will tell you how much you will have to pay. There is also a calculator available on the SDLT website:
You will have 14 days after completion of your purchase to pay the duty, but there are strict penalties if payments are late. To avoid this, we will ask you to let us have funds to pay any SDLT no later than the day before completion.
Yes, but only provided the amount you are paying for the fittings and contents is reasonable. We would recommend you arrange for a professional valuation of the items to act as evidence if HM Revenue and Customs were to challenge you. In practice, we find that it is quite rare that fittings and contents amount to a large enough sum to make this worthwhile. Committing a fraud on the revenue is a very serious offence, and HM Revenue and Customs do regularly look into transactions which are on the border between the different tax bands.
No, we will take care of this for you. We will ask you to check your details and sign the form before we submit it electronically on your behalf.
Contact the residential conveyancing team
If you would like a member of our conveyancing team to contact you to provide a quote please simply fill out the form by clicking below.