Essential house purchase documents
Buying a house is a long, complicated process and it's all too easy to forget the finer details. We take a look at the legal documents for buying a house that you need to have.
Whether you are buying or selling a home there are two documents that you will need to provide in order for the transaction to begin. These are ID and proof of address. This is to prove to your solicitor or conveyancer that you are who you say you are. Usually they will ask for photo ID (either a passport or driver’s licence) and proof of address in the form of a utility bill or bank statement dated within three months.
Essential house documents your solicitor should provide
During the house purchase process your solicitor or conveyancer should provide you with most of the essential house documents. These are:
- Title Deeds. Normally you won’t have title deeds – this is because the Land Registry records are now all digital. You may have title deeds if your property hasn’t been registered before, but this is becoming quite rare. You should still get confirmation from your solicitor that they have registered you as owner of the property. Your solicitor should provide you with a copy of the registered title showing you as “registered proprietor” within a month or two of completion.
- Copy of the lease. If your property is leasehold, your solicitor should give you a copy of the lease (with lease plan of your property) and any service charge accounts or forecasts. Our guide to leasehold conveyancing has more information about the documents you will need to purchase a leasehold property.
- Management pack. If the property is leasehold or you own a share of the freehold you may need to get a management information pack (also known as a leasehold information pack).
- Report on title. Your solicitor’s report on title is a useful document to keep handy. It should include a summary of the legal title and property search results.
- Property information form. This contains lots of useful practical information like the location of the water stop cock, electricity and gas meters and confirmation of who is responsible for which boundary fences.
- Fittings and contents form. This is filled out by the seller and tells you exactly what will be left in the property when they vacate. It tells you whether the light fittings, curtains and floorings are included in the sale as well as white goods and garden plants. Read it carefully and make sure you are happy with what they plan to take when they leave.
- Warranty. For new builds (or properties under 10 years old) you should have a copy of your Buildmark (NHBC) or other new home policy/warranty documents. You can find out more in our guide to new home warranties.
- Stamp duty receipt. Within 30 days of completion you should receive confirmation from your solicitor that stamp duty has been paid.
- Indemnity insurance. As appropriate, you should have a copy of any restrictive covenant indemnity insurance policy, chancel repair indemnity insurance or any other legal cover if required by your solicitor. If it is required, the reasons for this will be explained in the solicitor’s report on title. Find out when you need indemnity insurance.
- Energy performance certificate. Also known as an EPC this has to be included with a sale by law. It shows how energy efficient your new home is and an estimate of what it should cost to power and heat it. Read more in our guide to energy performance certificates.
What documents do I need to sell my house?
If you are selling your house you need to gather the following documents and give them to your conveyancing solicitor. They will then pass them on to your buyer’s solicitor who will, in turn, hand them to the buyer.
- Guarantees. If you have any new appliances (for example a new boiler or oven) that are included in the sale hand over the guarantees for the new owners.
- FENSA certificates. While you have owned the property have you had any new double glazing installed? If so you’ll need to provide a FENSA certificate. This proves that the windows comply with building regulations. If you receive FENSA certificates when you buy a house keep them safe ready to hand over to new owners when you sell up. A FENSA certifacte is valid for 10 years. You can search for a FENSA certificate on the FENSA website. If your installation wasn’t carried out by a FENSA-approved workman, or you simply cannot find the certificate you may need to pay for indemnity insurance for the new owner.
- Building work guarantees. If you’ve had building work done such as a new roof or damp-proofing you need to give the guarantees to the new owners. These are usually valid for 10 years.
- Records of servicing of boiler.
- Electrical certificates for any electrics works/rewiring.
- Building control certificates for any extensions or conversion works that may have been done to the property.
Essential documents for home buyers
As well as the documents you should get from the vendor when buying a house you also need to organise some yourself. These are:
- Insurance policies. Buildings insurance will be required by your mortgage lender, but it is up to you if you decide to get contents insurance. Find out more with our guide on how to insure your home.
- Survey. If you have had a buildings survey, it is useful to keep a copy of this to remind you what issues were raised/might need attention soon.