During the course of your House Sale you will sometimes hear phrases that you do not recognise or that concern or worry you. One of those is the term “Enquiries”.
Preliminary enquiries are a crucial part of the conveyancing process and are not necessarily anything to cause concern.
A buyers solicitors will raise enquiries to find out relevant information about the property. These enquiries are sent to the Sellers Solicitor who will then let the Seller know they have received these, which ones they can answer themselves and which ones the Seller needs to assist with. No need to panic this is a normal process of the transaction.
Enquiries should be limited to matters of a legal nature and not matters of opinion. However they often cover a wide range of things such as:
- Is the land registry title plan correct?
- Who maintains the boundary fences?
- Who supplies gas and electricity?
- When were the new windows fitted?
- Have there been any neighbour disputes?
When answering enquiries it is important that the you provide full and meaningful answers. Also that your replies to the enquiries are truthful and accurate and answered to the best of your knowledge about the property. If you do not know an answer it is perfectly acceptable to say that you “do not know”, you are not expected to be an expert.
It is also really important if you have any documentation in relation to your property such as certificates and guarantees or planning permissions that these are handed over to your Solicitor as early as possible. These will assist with the enquiries and help to speed up your sale. If you are unsure how to answer any of the enquiries you can ask your Solicitor.
The principle to be aware of in English Property Law is a phase buyer beware, or in Latin “Caveat Emptor”, which is something you may hear as the matter progresses. This means it is the buyers responsibility to make all reasonable enquiries, inspections and surveys about the property prior to exchange of contracts. This does not mean that there is no responsibility on the seller, merely that the onus is on the Buyer. However, the seller must disclose information relevant to the property. The seller must not withhold anything detrimental nor must they misrepresent the facts.
In short, preliminary enquiries are an essential part of the conveyancing process, but nothing to be afraid of.