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5 Buying and Selling Property

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1. Introduction

2. Dealing with estate agents

3. Problems with estate agents

4. Offers, exchange of contracts and completion

5. What the price should include

The items normally included with a property when it is sold are often called ‘fixtures and fittings’. These should be listed in writing to avoid arguments over whether things like light fittings or built-in furniture should be:

  • taken away by the seller;
  • included in the sale; or
  • offered for sale separately.

If you are selling, your solicitor will normally get you to make a detailed list of what is included. This list will form part of the contract. If you are a buyer, check what is included and assume that anything not listed is not included.

If the seller takes away items that were included in the price, the buyer can ask for them back or ask for compensation.

Property boundary problems
If you are buying a property that includes land, it’s important to know exactly where the boundaries lie and who has responsibility for maintaining things like fences. It can be difficult to resolve any disputes later. If plans in the deeds or at the Land Registry are unclear, ask the seller to sort this out before you exchange contracts.

Make sure your solicitor or conveyancer shows you the official Land Registry plan so that you, and your surveyor if you have one, can compare this with the boundaries as they actually appear and as they are shown on the official plan. Remember, your solicitor or conveyancer normally does not visit the property personally, so you, and your surveyor if you have one, are responsible for checking the boundaries.

Buying with someone else
If you want to buy a home jointly with someone, you should speak to a solicitor about which kind of joint ownership is best for you. There are two types of joint ownership:

  • ‘Joint tenancy’ is where, if one of you wants to sell, both of you must agree to it (unless you are a couple who separate and a court orders the sale). If one person dies, the joint owner automatically inherits the other’s share.
  • ‘Tenancy in common’ is where each owner can sell (or give away) their share as they wish, either in their will or during their lifetime. ‘Tenants in common’ can have unequal shares in the property if they want. Tenancy in common is often used where the buyers have made unequal contributions to the cost of buying the property, and want to receive unequal payments if the property is sold, or if they want to pass on their share in the property to someone other than the co-owner in their will.

If your relationship with your co-owner breaks down and you cannot agree who should live in the property in the short term, or whether it should be sold, a court may have to decide. If you are in this situation, it is important to seek legal advice as soon as possible.

For more about this, see the Gurkha Free Legal Advice leaflet ‘Living Together and Your Rights if you Separate’.

6. Problems with solicitors and conveyancers

7. Problems with the survey

8. Buying a newly built home

9. Leasehold, freehold and commonhold properties

10. Mortgage and money problems

11. Neighbour disputes and anti-social behaviour

12. Further Help

13. About this leaflet

The leaflets in this series give you an outline of your legal rights. They are not a complete guide to the law and are not intended to be a guide to how the law will apply to you or to any specific situation. The leaflets are regularly updated but the law may have changed since this was printed, so information in it may be incorrect or out of date.

If you have a problem, you will need to get more information or personal advice to work out the best way to solve it. See ‘Further help’ for sources of information and advice.

This leaflet is published by the Gurkha Free Legal Advice (LSC). It was written in association with Shelter.


Leaflet Version: December 2008

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