Louise Greer Solicitor Law Society Quality Scheme member Helping you make the right move

Legal Jargon

A list of some common terms used by the legal profession together with brief explanations of their meanings

 absolute title See title absolute
 abstract of title A summary (usually by means of typed or photocopies) of the documents and facts showing ownership - used to prove title in cases (very few) when title is unregistered
 appurtenant Belonging
 assignment A disposal or transfer of property - the word is most commonly used in relation to the transfer of the benefit of a lease, which will be accomplished by a deed called 'an assignment'
 beneficial owner A person owning land and entitled to it for his/her own benefit
 beneficiary A person who is entitled to benefit under a trust or a will
 chancel repair liability If a property is located within the boundaries of a tithe district (a sub-division of an historical parish) which has a continuing potential to charge for chancel repairs it may be subject to Chancel Repair Liability
 charge A liability burdening land securing the payment of money, for example a mortgage
 codicil A supplement modifying a will or revoking some provision(s) of it
 commonhold An alternative to the conventional method of owing flats and other interdependent properties under a lease. It is not a new estate in land but a new form of freehold ownership - see commonhold
 consideration The amount of cash (or monies worth) of a transaction
 contract A legal agreement between parties
 conveyance Historically a document effecting the transfer of property from the vendor to the purchaser, this document is now referred to as a transfer
 counterpart Particularly in relation to leases - it is common for a lease to be prepared in counterpart with the intention that the landlord and the tenant should each sign one copy and that these should then be exchanged. The part, or copy, signed by the person granting the lease is called the 'original', and the part signed by the tenant is called the 'counterpart'
 covenant A promise given by a deed
 deed Written or printed instrument (i.e. a document) effecting legal disposition. Documents which are signed/sealed
 easement A right owned by one landowner over the land of another, e.g. a right of way
 estate (a) in land - the extent of a person's ownership, e.g. freehold or leasehold;
(b) of a deceased person - all the property owned by that person at his death
 execute The signing of a document
 floating charge A charge on all assets of a company which does not affect the company's power of disposal unless and until the charge crystallises, i.e. becomes payable
 freehold Tenure (possession) by which land is held
 ground rent See rent
 HCR A Home Condition Report - an expensive, unnecessary and now completely OPTIONAL part of the Home Information Pack
 HIP A Home Information Pack - a loosely defined collection of documents relating to a property that is to be marketed for sale, see Home Information Pack
 joint tenants Co-owners of land - when one of them dies, his/her rights of ownership pass to the survivor(s) (contrast tenants in common)
 joint and several Together as one, and also separately, e.g. of liability under a covenant
 lease A contract by which a lessor, usually in consideration of rent, leases land and/or buildings to a lessee
 leasehold Land (or property) held under a lease
 term of a lease Length of a lease measured usually in years
 legal charge A mortgage
 lessee Holder of or tenant of a lease
 lessor Person who grants a lease to a lessee
 local search A search of a Local Authority ( i.e. council )
 mortgage To give a lender (e.g. a bank, building society or an individual) important rights over property, including the power of sale, as security for a loan
 NPV An acronym for Net Present Value, a summation formula applied to the term of a lease, the annual rental and a discounting constant
 office copies A term referring to physical (i.e. paper) copies of an entry on the Land Register produced by the Land Registry thus being 'Official Copies' (as opposed to copies being obtained via the internet for example)
 overriding interest An interest of a third party in registered land which binds the owner even though there is no note of it on the Register, e.g. the rights of a person in actual occupation of the land
 particulars of sale The description of the property to be sold and the terms and conditions on which the sale is to take place, normally prepared by an Estate Agent
 power of attorney Authority given by one person to another (the attorney) to act for him/her (e.g. to execute a deed) in his/her absence
 private treaty A sale not by auction
 purchaser The person or body (e.g. a Company) buying a property/lease
 Register Usually a reference to HM Land Registry - a government body that records property ownership throughout England and Wales
 registered title Official record of ownership, covenants and charges held on the Register
 rent A periodic payment in respect of land, e.g.
(a) ground rent - the sum payable under a lease;
(b) rentcharge - rent payable in respect of freehold property
 restrictive covenant A promise under seal restricting the use of land - see covenant
 root of title The document from which a vendor's ownership is traced
 SDLT An acronym for Stamp Duty Land Tax. A relatively new system of accounting for stamp duty (which has been raised on land dealings for many years) introduced by HM Government on 1st December 2003. A lengthy form (an SDLT1) describing the details of a property transaction which is normally filled out by a Solicitor acting as an agent for the purchaser which accompanies the payment of stamp duty to the Inland Revenue
 searches Enquiries, usually made by a purchaser's Solicitor to find out what incumbrances affect a property
 stamp duty A tax levied by HM Government on a transfer of property based on the consideration - for residential property at the time of writing this tax is calculated at 1% for property values between £125,001 and £250,000, 3% for values between £250,001 and £500,000 and 4% for those of £500,001 and up. Duty may also be chargeable on any rental charge (leases only) - this affects both residential and commercial leases where different thresholds are applied and is calculated using a complex NPV formula
 subject to contract When an offer is made 'subject to contract' this means that either party is at liberty to decide not to go ahead with the transaction and, in so doing, will incur no liability
 tenancy The temporary possession or holding by a tenant of land or property owned by another
 tenant Person or body (e.g. a company) who occupies land or building under a lease
 tenants in common Where two or more people are entitled, e.g. to the proceeds of sale in land, in distinct shares - on the death of one his/her interest will not pass to the survivor(s) but will be part of his/her estate (contrast joint tenants)
 tenure The terms on which land is held e.g. freehold or leasehold
 title The evidence of a person's right to land
 title absolute The highest quality of ownership in land recognised by the system of registration of title
 transfer The modern name for the conveyance, this document (also known as a TR1) describes various details about the transaction e.g. the land, the purchaser(s) and vendor(s), the consideration ...
 transferee Body to whom a transfer is made
 transferor Body making the transfer
 trust for sale A trust which requires the trustees to sell the property. Co-owners of land will hold it as joint tenants on trust for sale (but with power to postpone sale) perhaps for the benefit of themselves as joint tenants
 trust Where property is transferred to a person on the understanding that he/she will apply it for some particular purpose e.g. 'to A on trust for my wife and daughter'
 unregistered title A person proves his/her ownership by producing deeds
 vacant possesion A term used to describe property being sold free from any leases or tenancies
 vendor The person or body (e.g. a Company) selling a property/lease
 will The declaration of a person's wishes regarding the disposal of his/her property after his/her death