Terms and conditions when buying a residential freehold property
These Terms and Conditions form a contract between both parties and it is therefore important that you read them. If you have any questions please contact the fee earner dealing with your conveyance.
The following terms of engagement apply to all work carried out by Stennett & Stennett Ltd except as otherwise agreed. The expression “we”, “us”, and “our” refer to Stennett & Stennett Ltd and “you” and “your” refer to our client.
These terms and conditions may be revised from time to time and a copy will be sent to you to replace these, and the revised terms and conditions will apply from the date you receive them. You are of course free to terminate the arrangement between us if you do not accept the revised terms and conditions.
Our fees cover all of the work for you required to complete the purchase of your property, including dealing with registration at the Land Registry and dealing with the payment of Stamp Duty Land Tax (Stamp Duty) if the property is in England, or Land Transaction Tax (Land Tax) if the property you wish to buy is in Wales.
Stages of the process
The precise stages involved in the purchase of a residential property vary according to the circumstances. However, below we have suggested some key stages that you may wish to include:
- Take your instructions and give you initial advice
- Check finances are in place to fund purchase and contact lender's solicitors if needed
- Receive and advise on contract documents
- Carry out searches
- Obtain further planning documentation if required
- Make any necessary enquiries of seller's solicitor
- Give you advice on all documents and information received
- Go through conditions of mortgage offer with you
- Send final contract to you for signature
- Agree completion date (date from which you own the property)
- Exchange contracts and notify you that this has happened
- Arrange for all monies needed to be received from lender and you
- Complete purchase
- Deal with payment of Stamp Duty/Land Tax
- Deal with application for registration at Land Registry
Conveyancer's fees and disbursements
- Legal fee £1200 plus vat
- Search fees (includes Local Authority, drainage, environmental, Chancel, flood and planning searches)-£500 approximately
- Land Registry registration fee-this is set by the Land Registry and depends on the value of the property you are purchasing. The fee ranges from £20 to £900.
- Land Registry search fees-£6 approximately
- Bankruptcy search fees-£2 per person
- Electronic money transfer fee £20 plus VAT per payment
Estimated total (excluding Stamp Duty or Land Tax, Land Registry fee and conveyancer’s fee to act for a lender): £1972.00
Our legal fee assumes that
(a) this is a standard transaction of a title registered at HM Land Registry
(b) no unforeseen matters arise including for example (but not limited to) a defect in title which requires remedying prior to completion
(c) completion or the preparation of additional documents ancillary to the main transaction is not needed
(d) the transaction is concluded in a timely manner
(e) all parties to the transaction are co-operative and there is no unreasonable delay from third parties providing documentation
(f) no indemnity policies are required. Additional disbursements may apply if indemnity policies are required
(g) this is the assignment of an existing lease and is not the grant of a new lease
(h) the transaction involves only registered land
(i) all parties to the transaction are UK based.
Should our quote require amending for the reason given above, we will inform you straightaway, explain the circumstances, and agree a revised fee before we carry out the additional work.
Conveyancer’s fee to act for your lender.
Where you are getting a loan that will be secured on the property you are buying, we may be asked by your lender to act for them in the transaction. We will have an equal and independent duty to your lender to ensure the property is taken as security for the loan and the requirements set out in the UK Finance Lender’s Handbook are complied with. Our conveyancing fee to act for your lender is £295 plus VAT.
Stamp Duty or Land Tax
This depends on the purchase price of your property. You can calculate the amount you will need to pay by using HMRC's website or if the property is located in Wales by using the Welsh Revenue Authority's website here.
Disbursements are costs related to your matter that are payable to third parties, such as Land Registry fees. We handle the payment of the disbursements on your behalf to ensure a smoother process.
How long will my property purchase take
How long it will take from your offer being accepted until you can complete the purchase of your house will depend on a number of factors. The average process takes between 4-12 weeks.
It can be quicker or slower, depending on the parties in the chain. For example, if you are a first-time buyer, purchasing a new build property with a mortgage in principle, it could take 12-16 weeks. However, if you are buying a leasehold property that requires an extension of the lease, this can take significantly longer, between 4-6 months. In such, a situation additional charges would apply.
Who will carry out the work
Our team has over 20 years of collective experience in delivering high quality work in all matters relating to conveyancing. We have two members of the team who may work on your matter. They are Ms Davinder Salhan, Consultant Solicitor and a Conveyancing Assistant.
Scope of our Services
The scope of the services we have agreed to provide for you in any matter will be agreed between us within these Terms & Conditions and you agree that you do not require us to provide you advice or further services in relation to any aspect outside of the scope of the services so agreed.
Level of service
We will regularly update you by telephone or in writing with progress on your matter in particular, following key events or stages in your matter. We will always endeavour to communicate with you in plain language.
Where we are jointly instructed by you and another client we will assume that either of you are authorised to give us instructions, unless either of you advise us otherwise. In addition, as matters progress we may need to act on instructions of other people from whom we consider it is reasonable to take instructions in order to progress the matter within the timescales set. Unless informed of any change, we will assume that this remains the case until our work is completed.
Provision of Information
To assist us in carrying out the work as efficiently as possible, you will need to ensure that all information provided is to the best of your knowledge complete, accurate and up to date. You should also notify us of any changes or variations to that information which may arise after the date it is passed to us and of any new circumstances that might be relevant to the work we are undertaking.
Matter not concluded
Unless otherwise agreed in writing, our fees are payable whether or not a matter is successfully concluded. If any matter does not proceed to completion for any reason during the period in which we are instructed we will be entitled to charge for work done on an hourly basis plus expenses by proportion of the agreed fee as set out above but, at its absolute discretion, we may waive part or all of such entitlement to fees.
Settlement of bills
Accounts are to be paid by you when due, whether or not the amounts concerned may ultimately have to be paid by another party.
In relation to non-contentious costs, we are entitled to charge interest on unpaid bills at the rate payable on judgment debts from one month after delivery of the bill in accordance with Article 5 of the Solicitors' (Non-Contentious Business) Remuneration Order 2009. We reserve the right to charge interest on any outstanding amounts at the statutory rate (currently 8%).
If any payment on account is not made or a bill is not settled in accordance with these terms, we reserve the right to decline to act further for you.
Concerns over your bill
If you are not satisfied with the amount of our fees please contact us. If you remain unhappy about the level of our fees you may be able to make a complaint to the Legal Ombudsman or may be entitled to have the bill assessed by the Court in accordance with Part III of the Solicitors Act 1974. Your rights are set out more fully in Sections 70, 71 and 72 of the Solicitors Act 1974.
Lien over papers and documents
Following the conclusion of your matter, we are entitled to retain your file of papers and documents while there is money owing to us for fees.
We operate a client account facility which allows for money to be held or transferred in relation to a matter we are working on. However, the facility is operated at our discretion and any unauthorised receipts will be held pending further investigation or returned to the sender. Therefore, we ask that you give us advance warning of any receipts.
It is our policy to only accept cash up to £250. If you circumvent this policy by depositing cash direct with our bank, we reserve the right to charge for any additional checks we deem necessary regarding the source of the funds. Where we have to pay money to you, it will be paid by cheque or bank transfer. It will not be paid in cash or to a third party.
If we hold money on your behalf, in accordance with the SRA Accounts Rules 2011, it is our policy that we will pay you a sum of money in lieu of interest on a fair and reasonable basis.
Client monies will normally be held by us in a general client account with our primary banker, which is Natwest bank.
A sum in lieu of interest will be payable on amounts held in our general client account on the following basis:
- Interest will be paid at the conclusion of your matter.
- The period for which interest will be paid normally runs from the date the funds are received by us cleared in our account until, where paid electronically, the date when the funds are sent or, where paid by cheque, the date(s) on the cheque(s) issued to you;
- The rate of interest paid to clients will be in line with Natwest bank’s published interest rates on Client Deposit Accounts over the period when interest is due;
- All sums that are paid to you will be paid as a gross amount;
- We will not account to you for any sums in lieu of interest in the following situations:
- On money held for the payment of a professional disbursement if the person to whom the money is owed has requested a delay in settlement;
- On money on an advance to us to fund a payment on your behalf in excess of funds already held for you;
- Where the total amount of interest calculated over the course of the matter is £20 or less;
- Otherwise, where there is an agreement to contract out of the provisions of this policy.
Cyber crime and email Fraud
It is unfortunate that Cyber crime and email fraud targeted at law firms and their clients is on the increase. Fraudsters are using very sophisticated methods to manipulate IT and intercept communications. We take the following precautions to prevent cyber crime and email fraud.
Confirmation of our bank details
Our bank account details will be confirmed to you at the outset of the matter. We will not be changing our bank account details during the course of dealing with your matter so the account details we have confirmed in the body of these terms and conditions will stay the same throughout the lifetime of your matter.
We will only notify you of changes to important business information, including bank account details, in official correspondence which will be sent by postal mail. If you ever receive any other communication purporting to come from us and which purports to change our bank account details or to request that you send funds to another account, please do not rely and immediately contact the person at this firm handling your matter by telephone. Even if the request appears to have come from us, you must never send funds to another account unless you have verified this with us.
We cannot take any responsibility for any losses where funds are transferred to other accounts that have not been verified by us.
Sending funds to our bank account
Prior to transferring any funds to our account, we recommend you contact us to verify our account details. Wherever possible, you should contact the contact the person at this firm handling your matter by telephone.
Our firm sending funds to you
We may not agree to send any funds to you unless it is to a pre-agreed bank account which we have verified. At the conclusion of your conveyance we will not transfer any monies to any account holder other than that of the person/s instructing us.
You must take care to protect your own data and bank account details. Confirming your bank details by email should be avoided.
For all new matters, the person with conduct of your matter will contact you by telephone to verify your bank account details, prior to our sending funds to you. We are sorry if this causes any delay to the processing of payments but we do consider that these steps are necessary to help protect you and your money from fraud.
If you are a long-standing client of the firm and/or a client to whom we have previously transferred funds and your bank account details have not changed we may rely on our previous transactions rather than contact you via telephone for verification unless circumstances exist which increase the level of risk or we otherwise consider it appropriate to do so.
We are not authorised by the Financial Conduct Authority (formerly the Financial Services Authority). However, our firm is included on the FCA Register so that we can carry on insurance distribution activity, which is broadly the advising on, selling and administration of insurance contracts. This is part of our business, including arrangements for complaints or redress if something goes wrong is regulated by the Solicitors Regulation Authority. The register can be accessed via the Financial Conduct Authority website at www.fca.gov.uk
We do not generally sell or advise on insurance policies except those that are required in relation to our conveyancing and litigation practices. In conveyancing work, clients may encounter a problem that can be overcome by the taking out of a suitable insurance policy such as to protect against a defect in the title to a property. Should we identify a problem that cannot readily be overcome without taking out such a policy, we will inform clients at the appropriate time.
If we are requested to recommend an insurer, we will advise the client about the range of legal indemnity insurers we have checked before recommending a particular policy and, if it is not on a fair market analysis, we will explain the basis upon which the recommendation has been made and will check the suitability of any such policy. If we are requested to assist in the arranging of any insurance on behalf of a client, we will inform the client of all necessary information by means of a written ‘demand and needs statement’.
If we recommend a referral to a particular insurer, we shall do so in good faith but we shall not be liable to you for any advice or assistance you may be given by them. Furthermore, you will not be afforded the regulatory protection of the SRA and shall not be entitled to the benefit of the SRA Compensation Fund in relation to those insurance services.
The Law Society of England and Wales is a designated professional body for the purposes of the Financial Services and Markets Act 2000. The Solicitors Regulation Authority is the independent regulatory arm of the Law Society. The Legal Ombudsman is the independent complaints-handling arm of the Law Society. If you are unhappy with any investment advice you receive from us, you should raise your concerns with either of those bodies.
Limitation of Liability
Reliance by third parties
Advice rendered by us is provided for the purpose of the instructions to which it relates and for your benefit. It may not be used or relied on for any other purpose or by any person other than you without our prior agreement.
Liability in respect of other parties
We will use all reasonable endeavours to ensure that all information provided by us is accurate but we cannot account for the accuracy of information provided by or obtained from third parties. We shall not be liable for any decision made or action taken by you or others based upon reliance on or use of information or advice provided by or obtained from third parties.
Where we are asked to recommend the services of another advisor or service provider, we will do so in good faith, but without liability and without warranting the ability or standing of that person or firm. We will not be responsible for the quality of the services provided by that person or firm.
Limitation of our liability
Our liability to you for a breach of your instructions shall be limited to £3,000,000.00. We will not be liable for any consequential, special, indirect or exemplary damages, costs or losses or any damages, costs or losses attributable to lost profits or opportunities.
We can only limit our liability to the extent the law allows. In particular, we cannot limit our liability for death or personal injury caused by our negligence.
An actual or potential conflict between your interests and the interests of another client of the firm may arise during the course of a matter. If this situation arises during our dealings with you, we will discuss the position with you and determine the appropriate course of action.
Equality & Diversity
We are committed to promoting equality and diversity in all of our dealings with clients, third parties and employees. Please contact us if you would like a copy of our equality and diversity policy.
How we use your data
We are registered as a Data Controller with the Information Commissioners Office. We will use the information that you give us to provide you with legal services, as per your instructions. We will keep your information confidential and will only use it for the purpose(s) for which it was provided or as is permitted in law (i.e. for dealing with complaints or regulatory investigations).
Occasionally, we may need to share some or all of your information with our quality assurance auditors for the purposes of their assessment of whether we are adhering to quality standards. In particular, our files may need to be assessed for quality purposes by a Lexcel or Conveyancing Quality Scheme assessor and your file may be one of a sample which is to be assessed. Any examination will be strictly controlled and will be shared for the sole purpose of ensuring that our handling of your matter meets the requirements of the quality standard.
We may have to share some or all of your information with other third parties. This may include experts and other third parties who we need to instruct to assist us with your matter. We may also have to share information with the Legal Ombudsman (if you complain about our services) and the Solicitors Regulation Authority (the statutory body that regulates solicitors). In doing so we will always take care to ensure that your information remains confidential and safe.
We may wish to contact you in the future about our other services. Please let us know if you are happy to receive that information. To inform us of your preference, you are invited to tick the relevant box in the notice provided and return it to us.
You have rights under the General Data Protection Regulation and Data Protection Act 2018 and these include the right to be informed what information we hold about you. However, it is obviously likely that you will have provided us with such information as we hold. If you believe that the information we hold is wrong or out of date, please let us know and we will update it. The person in this firm responsible for data protection is Michael Stennett and enquires and requests can be sent to him by telephone 02089203190 or in writing at 4 Winchmore, Southgate, London N14 6PT.
How long will we hold your data
We will only hold your information for as long as necessary to provide you with legal services and then for only so long as we are required either contractually or under our regulatory obligations. This will generally be six years after the end of your matter. After this time, we will confidentially destroy all information that we hold about you (in accordance with the clauses below relating to storage and retrieval) other than your name, address and date of birth which we will be obliged to continue to hold for the purposes of ensuring that we never act for another client where doing so would conflict with our obligations of confidentiality to you.
Solicitors who deal with money and property on behalf of their client can be used by criminals wanting to launder money.
Under the provisions of our statutory obligations (in particular with regard to our obligations under the Money Laundering Regulations 2017 and other relevant legislation including the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002 and the Terrorism Act 2000), we are under a strict duty to report any circumstances where we know or suspect that a client or matter is involved in money laundering or terrorist financing to the National Crime Agency. Under these circumstances, we will be precluded from informing you of the disclosure or seeking your consent. If we make a disclosure, we may also have to stop working on your matter for a period of time and may not be able to tell you why.
In view of the above, it is our policy to obtain satisfactory proof of your identity and/or to make searches of appropriate databases and to make detailed enquiries as to the source of funds being used in relation to transactions on which we are instructed to advise.
We are required to retain records of the identification obtained. We may delay, decline or cease to act for you if we have requested to see proof of your identity, but there has been an unreasonable delay in providing it.
If as a result of meeting our statutory obligations, or executing our internal procedures put in place to meet those obligations in good faith, we cause you loss, damage or delay, our liability to you will not exceed the minimum level of Professional Indemnity insurance cover as specified by the SRA Indemnity Insurance Rules.
If we are also acting for your proposed lender in a conveyancing transaction, we have a duty to fully reveal to your lender all relevant facts about the purchase and mortgage. This includes, but is not limited to:
- any differences between your mortgage application and information we receive during the transaction
- any cash back payments or discount schemes that a seller is giving you
If you have the necessary facilities we will sometimes use Email for communication with you unless you tell us not to.
There are some specific points of which you should be aware:
(i) Communications over the Internet are not completely secure. You will have to guide us as to what should or should not be sent over the Internet.
(ii) Viruses or other harmful devices may be spread over the Internet. We take reasonable precautions to prevent these problems by use of a firewall and virus checking software. If we are to communicate by Email, it is on the basis that you will do likewise.
Termination by you
You may withdraw your instructions at any time by written notice to us.
Should your matter not be carried through to completion then a charge will be made in respect of the work that has already been completed based upon the fee structure that has been agreed. VAT or similar taxes will be payable on that amount and you will also be billed for any disbursements incurred.
We will be entitled to keep all your papers and documents whilst there is money owing to us for our fees and expenses.
Termination by us
In some circumstances, we may consider that we ought to cease acting for you. We will only decline to act further for you where we have reasonable grounds to do so (for example:
- failure by you to settle invoices in full on the due date or to make payments in advance when so requested;
- failure by you to give clear and proper instructions on how we are to proceed;
- if it is clear that you have lost confidence in how we are carrying out your instructions;
- if by continuing to act we would be in breach of the law or rules of professional conduct.
If we do cease to act for you then we will confirm in writing the reasons why and give you reasonable notice.
Storage and Retrieval of files
At the conclusion of your matter, we will store your file of papers for a reasonable period of time. We would usually store casefiles for six years from the date of the final bill but reserve the right to determine the period of storage. Such papers or files may be stored in an electronic form (with the original paper version being destroyed as soon as it is scanned and saved as an electronic file).
There may be documents such as deeds or wills which we have agreed to deposit for you in safe custody or documents that you have otherwise asked to be returned to you. We will not destroy any such documents.
This service is currently free of charge.
We also reserve our rights to destroy your files and papers (whether electronic or paper based) after a reasonable period, without prior notice to you, unless we receive a written request from you during this period. At your request we will return any papers or property belonging to you which are not subject to a lien or otherwise being stored for safe keeping.
If we retrieve papers or documents or electronic data from storage in relation to continuing or renewing instructions to act for you, we will not normally charge for the direct cost for retrieval from storage. However, in all other cases, we reserve the right to make a charge for the retrieval or delivery of any stored files (including electronic data), papers or deeds or a charge based on the time we spend reading stored files, papers of deeds, writing letters or other work necessary to comply with your instructions. Our charges would be based on our hourly rate applicable at the given time and we would always discuss this with you beforehand.
We are committed to high quality legal advice and client care and aim to offer all our clients an efficient and effective service, and I am confident that we will do so in this case. However, if you would like to discuss how the service to you could be improved, the level of your bill, or should there be any aspect of our service with which you are not satisfied, please contact Michael Stennett. We have a procedure in place which details how we handle complaints and this will be immediately be sent to you.
We have eight weeks to consider your complaint. If for any reason we are unable to resolve the problem between us within that timeframe, then you may ask the Legal Ombudsman to consider the complaint. The Legal Ombudsman may be contacted at PO Box 6806, Wolverhampton WV1 9WJ.
Please be aware that any complaint to the Legal Ombudsman must usually be made within six months of your having received a final written response from us about your complaint. Complaints to the Legal Ombudsman must usually be made within six years of the act or omission about which you are complaining occurring; or within three years from when you should have known about or become aware that there were grounds for complaint. However, the Legal Ombudsman will not accept complaints where the act or date of awareness was before 6 October 2010. For further information, you should contact the Legal Ombudsman on 0300 555 0333 or visit www.legalombudsman.org.uk.
If you think a solicitor might be dishonest or you have concerns about their ethics or integrity, you also have the right to notify our regulator, the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA). There are no time limits for making a report but there are limits on what the SRA will consider.
Please note that the SRA is not able to deal with issues of poor service (complaints of this nature should instead be referred to the Legal Ombudsman). For further information about the SRA’s role, please visit: https://www.sra.org.uk/consumers/ .
We are authorised and regulated by the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA). Our SRA number is 564879.
We operate in accordance with a code of conduct and other regulations contained with the SRA’s Handbook. For further information or to see a copy of the Handbook, please visit www.sra.org.uk
We practice through a limited liability partnership Stennett & Stennett LLP.
Stennett & Stennett LLP is registered in England and Wales with registration number CRN7666275. A list of our directors and their professional qualifications is open to inspection at our registered office 4 Winchmore Hill Road, Southgate, London N14 6PT.
Our office is located at 4 Winchmore Hill Road, Southgate, London N14 6PT. The normal hours of opening are between 09.30 and 17.30 on weekdays. Appointments can be arranged outside those hours when essential to the interests of a client.
In the interests of our clients, we maintain compulsory professional indemnity insurance to a total level of three million pounds. Our insurers are International General Insurance Company (UK) Ltd whose registered office is Forum House, 15-18 Lime Street, London EC3M 7AN. The territorial coverage of our insurance is within England & Wales. A full hard copy of our insurance is available to view at our offices. Please ask for details.
Third Party Rights
The Contracts (Rights of Third Parties) Act 1999 does not apply to the terms of our retainer with you or any subsequent amendment to it unless we expressly confirm in writing this it does apply.
In the event that any of these terms and conditions is held to be invalid, the remainder of the terms and conditions will remain in full force and effect.
These terms and conditions shall be governed by, and construed in accordance with, the law of England & Wales.
The Courts of England & Wales shall have exclusive jurisdiction in relation to any claim, dispute or difference concerning this agreement and any matter arising from it.
Unless otherwise agreed, and subject to the application of then current hourly rates, these Terms and Conditions of Business shall apply to any future instructions given by you to us. Although your continuing instructions in this matter will amount to an acceptance of these terms and conditions of business, it will be helpful if you will please sign and return one copy of them for us to retain on our file.
As this is an important document, please keep your copy in a safe place for future reference.
We may wish to contact you in the future about our other services.
If you change your mind at any point in the future then please do not hesitate to let us know.