Methods of completion

There are a number of methods and effects of completion. Completion in person requires one solicitor usually the buyer’s solicitor to attend the office of the other solicitor. At the completion meeting the buyer’s solicitor will check any title documents against the evidence of title previously sent which is only of real significance in unregistered land. In return for receiving the completion money the seller’s solicitor will hand over the title documents and other documents relating to the property such as planning permissions, guarantees or insurance policies.

The disadvantage of completing in person is that it takes time. That is why, today it is quite common for people to complete by post. There is a new Code of Completion by Post released by the Law Society which is linked to here.

The effect of completion depends upon whether the land is registered or unregistered. In unregistered land the legal title passes to the buyer on completion. In registered land the legal title does not pass to the buyer until the buyer is registered at the Land Registry as proprietor of the land.

A number of steps will need to be taken after completion some of which have strict time limits attached. Firstly arrangements will be made for the discharge of the seller’s mortgage. In many cases the buyer will have agreed to allow the seller’s solicitor to discharge the mortgage after completion using the money received. Once the lender has received the amount required to redeem the mortgage from the seller’s solicitor they will either complete the Land Registry Form SDS1 and send it to the seller’s solicitor for onwards transmission to the buyer’s solicitor or submit an EDS1 electronic discharge through the Land Registry portal or use the electronic discharge system depending on the electronic message to the Land Registry which automatically reviews the charge from the register. Next the seller’s solicitor will send the TR1 to the buyer’s solicitor who then must arrange for any SDLT or LTT to be paid. SDLT must be paid to HMRC within fourteen days of completion. LTT must be paid to the Welsh Revenue Authority within thirty days of completion.

If the buyer is a company and has purchased the property with the aid of a mortgage then the lender’s solicitor will have to register the charge at Companies House within twenty-one days of its creation. Once SDLT and LTT has been paid the buyer’s solicitor will need to apply to have the buyer registered as the registered proprietor of the land and title.

With respect to registered land the application to have the buyer registered as the registered proprietor of the land are made on Land Registry Form AP1.  A certified copy of the transfer – not the original – should be submitted with the application along with the fee, the SDLT or LTT certificate and the DS1. If the buyer has created a new mortgage the following documents will also be needed: a certified copy of the mortgage deed, if the buyer is a company a certified copy of the certificate of registration issued by Companies House and if the buyer is a company the solicitor or lender’s written confirmation that the enclosed certified mortgage deed is the same as the one filed at Companies House.

With respect to unregistered land an application for registration of title must be made within two months of completion of the transaction on a Form FR1. The application form and fee accompanied by the documents listed below should be sent to the Land Registry.