The last thing people are probably thinking about right now during lockdown is putting their house on the market but, if you were about to put your property on the market before this crisis or are thinking of doing so after, then this is the perfect time to get things in order. When all restrictions are lifted, it will be all systems go and life can return to some sort of normality.

Most properties in England are registered at the Land Registry and allows us to verify your ownership of the property. If you have a bundle of deeds and/or documents which may have been sent to you after you bought the property, it would be useful to sort these out as they may contain some important documents, such as planning paperwork.  

However, a few properties are still unregistered. These are usually properties which have been in the family for many years or belong to a relative who has passed away or gone into long term care. Most would have been bought back in the 70s or before then. If this is the case or perhaps you are selling a property on behalf of a relative, then the Deeds are important as they will prove ownership of the property. It would be a good time to know the whereabouts of the deeds and in some cases, they will be held by a bank or a firm of solicitors who may have acted for the family and are storing deeds for safekeeping.

In addition to your deeds this is a perfect time during to search your drawers and cabinets or folders where to keep your important paperwork to find the following:

  • Gas Safe certificates for any gas installations made to the property;
  • Most recent gas service record. It is recommended that gas boilers or fires are serviced once a year so if you have not had your boiler or fires serviced then it would be recommended to get them serviced once restrictions are lifted and it is safe to arrange for a Gas Safe Engineer to carry this out;
  • FENSA certificates for any uPVC windows or doors installed and any guarantees those installations have the benefit of;
  • Cavity wall guarantee – if you have had cavity wall insulation the company who carried out the work should have supplied you with a guarantee;
  • Electrical Certificates for any electrical work that has been carried out to the property;
  • Planning and/or building regulation completion certificates for any work structural or otherwise which would have required planning or building regulation approval carried out to the property. This may include any work carried out by previous owners depending on how long ago the work was carried out. You can obtain copy planning paperwork online from most Local Authorities who can sometimes go back as far as 15 years. Again this would be the ideal time to order copies if you do not have the originals at home or with your deeds; and
  • Restrictive covenant consent – a large number of properties will have restrictions against alterations unless consent is obtained, usually from the original developer. If you have carried out work which would have required consent and this will include work carried out by previous owners then it would be worth checking if you have this consent with your deeds.  

It is worth mentioning that if you cannot locate the restrictive covenant consent you should discuss this with your conveyancing lawyer before trying to obtain retrospective consent or making contact with the company who has the benefit of the covenants because it may be possible to obtain indemnity insurance to cover any breach but any contact made may render an insurance policy void. The same would apply for outstanding planning or building regulation approval. Speak to your conveyancing lawyer before making contact with any Local Authority to obtain retrospective consent.

If you have solar panels then you will need to produce any documentation relating to them including planning and/or building regulations and electrical certificate.

It is a perfect time to give your property a spruce up. A spring clean and a lick of paint here and there could make a great deal of difference. 

This is also the perfect time to sort out your garages, lofts and cupboards and have a “clear out” of anything which you would not want to take with you to your new property.

It is worth undertaking any minor repairs although during lockdown it is not advisable to undertake any building work which would require a professional who cannot at present visit your property. 

It would be a disaster if you started DIY and then needed a tradesman to attend the property to put it right in the event of something going wrong.

These are extremely challenging times for everyone but if you are thinking of moving in the near future then why not put this lockdown time to better use and get sorting out!

WBW Solicitors has a property team in all of their nine offices across the South West. If you would like to discuss any aspect of a property transaction or just want some advice whilst we are in lockdown please contact gillbratcher@wbw.co.uk or visit our property page.