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Don’t Let a Bad Conveyancer Spoil Your Buy-to-Let Investment

Don’t Let a Bad Conveyancer Spoil Your Buy-to-Let Investment

Buying a property as a buy-to-let investment is an exciting step, but choosing the wrong conveyancer can turn that excitement into a costly headache. Here are some expert tips to avoid the pitfalls of poor conveyancing, with real-life examples to illustrate each point:

Communication is Key:

Believe it or not, most negligence claims against conveyancers stem from communication breakdowns. Imagine this: Sarah buys a flat in a converted Victorian townhouse. Her conveyancer fails to mention a clause in the lease restricting her from subletting the property. When Sarah struggles to find a long-term tenant and wants to sublet, she faces legal action from the freeholder due to the missed clause. To avoid this, ensure your conveyancer clearly explains:

  • The process: They
    should break down the entire conveyancing journey, from initial searches
    to completion, highlighting key milestones and potential delays.
  • Limitations of their service:
    Basic packages may not include additional checks, like asbestos
    surveys. Make sure you understand what’s included and what additional
    services might be necessary.
  • The meaning of documents:
    Don’t be afraid to ask questions! Jargon-filled legalese can be
    confusing. A good conveyancer will explain the significance of each
    document you encounter during the transaction.

Set Clear Expectations From the Start:

A well-defined retainer agreement is your best friend. This document outlines exactly what your conveyancer is responsible for and what limitations exist. For example, let’s say David is buying a house with a complex title history. The retainer should clearly state if additional title investigation (beyond standard searches) falls outside the initial fee and requires further negotiation.

The retainer should also help manage your expectations by explaining the process and the type of documentation involved. It should detail:

  • Estimated timelines:
    Conveyancing can take weeks, so having a realistic timeframe helps you
    plan (e.g., informing current landlord about your move-out date).
  • Potential delays:
    Unexpected issues can arise, so understanding common causes (like
    missing paperwork from the seller) helps you prepare mentally and
  • Communication channels:
    Will your conveyancer primarily communicate via email or phone calls?
    Knowing their preferred method ensures you receive updates promptly.

Don’t Ignore Red Flags:

Sometimes due diligence uncovers issues like limitations on property titles or incomplete searches. A good conveyancer will identify these and explain the potential risks involved. Be wary of a conveyancer who downplays these issues. Here’s an example: Michael is purchasing a flat above a shop. The searches reveal the shop owner has exclusive rights to access the roof for maintenance, potentially impacting Michael’s ability to install a rooftop patio. A good conveyancer would highlight this and advise Michael on potential solutions (e.g., negotiating access limitations with the shop owner).

Master the Art of Communication:

Clear communication goes both ways. Your conveyancer should be able to explain complex legal concepts in a way you understand. However, you also need to be clear about any questions or concerns you have. Don’t hesitate to ask for clarification. Let’s say Emily is buying a house with a right of way across a neighboring property. The conveyancer explains the right of way allows access for deliveries, but Emily is unsure if it extends to pedestrians. She should ask for clarification to avoid future disputes with the neighbor.

Leverage Available Resources:

There’s no shame in seeking additional support. The RICS consumer guide, Leasehold Advisory Service, and The Property Institute (TPI) are all excellent resources for buy-to-let investors, and your conveyancer may recommend them for specific situations. Here’s how they can help:

  • RICS consumer guide:
    This guide provides clear explanations of the surveying process, helping
    you understand the condition of the property you’re buying.
  • Leasehold Advisory Service (LEASE):
    Are you buying a leasehold property? LEASE offers free advice and
    guidance on understanding your leasehold rights and obligations.
  • The Property Institute (TPI):
    If your buy-to-let property is part of a larger development with
    shared amenities, TPI can help you understand the role of the managing
    agent and the associated service charges.

By following these tips and choosing a conveyancer who prioritises clear communication, sets expectations upfront, and addresses any potential issues head-on, you can mitigate risk and ensure a smooth buy-to-let investment journey. Remember, a good conveyancer is an essential partner in securing your financial futures.

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