A Guide to Property Certificates

house for sale.jpgWhether you are in the process of buying a home for the first time or you are seasoned in the art of buying and selling property, you will no doubt have heard your solicitor mention the need to obtain ‘Property Certificates’ at an early stage in the conveyancing process. 

Like much of the legal jargon related to the process of buying and selling property, it is likely that many people have no idea what these certificates are and why they are necessary – some people may believe it is simply a further cost that is added onto their bill and that these certificates serve no real purpose in the process.

The truth of the matter is that obtaining and reviewing Property Certificates is an essential element in any conveyancing transaction.  Here we have set out for you the purpose of these certificates and why they are so important.

So what exactly are Property Certificates?

In any conveyancing transaction, the seller’s solicitors have to provide property certificates to the buyer’s solicitor. These certificates provide up to date information about the property.

There are two main property certificates:-

  • Regional Property Certificates
  • Council Property Certificates
What is a Regional Property Certificate?

A Regional Property Certificate contains information obtained from the Department of the Environment.  This certificate will confirm the following:-

  • That the road used to access your property is maintained by Transport NI and is not private.
  • That the sewers are either maintained by NI Water or the property is served by a septic tank and that the necessary statutory consent for this is in place.

This certificate will also show the planning history of your property.  Your solicitor will review this certificate along with the title deeds and your survey to make sure that any alterations there have been to the property over the years have the necessary consents in place.

What is a Council Property Certificate?

A Council Property Certificate contains information provided from the Council in which your property is built.   This certificate shows the Building Control history of your property.  This is important as it is the function of Building Control to make sure that any works carried out to your property are up to a required minimum standard.

The Council Property Certificate will also show the correct postal address of the property and confirm if the property is in a smoke control zone which can impact on the type of solid fuel you can use.

Why are Property Certificates important when buying or selling my house?

The information contained within Property Certificates is important when you are buying a property so that you are fully aware of what you are purchasing and the responsibilities and costs which go along with it.  Without these documents being obtained and properly reviewed, you may find yourself liable for the insurance and resurfacing of a private roadway, or the upkeep of a private septic tank or sewage treatment plant.   The buyer of a property that you are selling will also require these documents before they can complete on the transaction and without these being in order you may have difficulties selling your home.

RFlinnRuth Flinn is a Solicitor in the Property Law Department of Francis Hanna & Co Solicitors. She is experienced in all areas of residential conveyancing. If you require any further information  on conveyancing matters, please contact us below or contact Ruth on rflinn@fhanna.co.uk