conveyancing law solicitors

Boyd Rice Solicitors’ Guide to Conveyancing Terminology

Ben Wall

Tell your deed from your deposit with our conveyancing jargon buster

As legal professionals it is all too easy for us to fall into the trap of using complex legal terms and phrases when we discuss your conveyancing with you. We do our best to avoid this and to explain matters to you succinctly and clearly. We want you to understand how your property transaction is progressing throughout. To assist with this, we thought we would provide you with a handy glossary to some of the key words and phrases for those occasions when we do use a technical phrase you may not understand.


Where better to start. Conveyancing, in very simple terms, is the word to describe that area of law with is concerned with the acquisition and transfer of property and rights in property.


In the context of conveyancing there are two possible meanings to this word. One is the equivalent of ownership of land and rights in it, i.e. to have title to land is to have ownership of it. The other is the proof of such ownership, i.e. the evidence such as documents like title deeds which establish the ownership of the land.

The Contract

Up until the contract is signed either party can choose to walk away. The agreement becomes binding when the purchaser signs the contract (also known as the offer to purchase) and it is sent to the vendor’s solicitor for the vendor to sign. The vendor signs it then a copy is returned to the purchaser’s solicitor. It is deemed to be binding when it is received by the purchaser’s solicitor. It is common for this to take place close to completion.


This is the date when money is transferred from the purchaser’s solicitor to the vendor’s solicitor and the purchaser gets into their new home. It is not the end of the work for the solicitor as the transaction will have to be registered.

Freehold/Leasehold/Fee Farm Grant

If you own a freehold interest in your land then you have effectively absolute ownership of the land. It has the potential to last forever.

If you have a leasehold interest then ultimately the land will revert to the freeholder however it is typically for leasehold interest to last up to 10,000 years here in Northern Ireland so it is unlikely the freeholder will be getting the land back any time soon. You will have to observe covenants and pay a ground rent to the freeholder.

A fee farm grant is like a hybrid of the other two interests. It lasts forever but there is a rent to pay. However this rent is usually a nominal rent which is not collected.

Land Registry

There are two land registration systems in Northern Ireland. The land registration system records the ownership of land and the Land Registry is the office that administers this system. Since 2003 whenever any property in Northern Ireland is transferred for value there is a compulsory obligation to register the property with the Land Registry if it has not already been done so. This has helped to increase transparency and certainty in the ownership of land here.

Registry of Deeds

This is the second land registration system here. This system records the existence and priority of deeds and the Registry of Deeds is the office that looks after this. The move to the Land Registry system, as noted above, has made conveyancing a much easier and more certain process.


This is the document that will be used to register the transfer of ownership from vendor to purchaser. If the property is registered in the Registry of Deeds a deed is drafted by the purchaser’s solicitor and signed by the vendor. If the property is registered in the Land Registry then a prescribed form – “transfer” – is used. The signed, or “executed”, deed/transfer is provided to the purchaser’s solicitor after completion to allow registration to take place.


A covenant is a “promise” contained in a deed which regulates the behaviour of those people that have interests in land. These are usually more commonly found in leasehold estates but as more and more new developments are created with freehold estates they are increasingly relevant to freeholders. Examples include the restriction on making alterations to building on the land, the requirement to pay rent and rates and often matters that could be seen as trivial – such as a prohibition on playing musical instruments between 11pm and 8am. Your solicitor will advise you prior to your purchase as to what covenants are relevant to your new property.


Most people tend of think of the deposit as the difference between what the mortgage company is providing them with and the purchase price. However what the deposit really means in the conveyancing process is a sum of money paid by the purchaser to the vendor at the point where the parties enter into contract (usually 10% of the purchase price). Deposits have become less and less common and are usually only encountered in transactions involving new build properties and auction sales.

Fixtures and Fittings

Fixtures have traditionally been regarded as those things that would require considerable effort, probably tools and skill to remove. Fittings are generally regarded as things that can be un-hooked, un-plugged, lifted or removed without great effort, tools or specialised knowledge. If you are selling your property, your solicitor will provide you with a fixtures and fittings list to complete so that the purchaser knows what you intend to leave and what you intend to remove.


You will have heard the phrase “searches” in relation to conveyancing. These can encompass a wide variety of matters. Bankruptcy and Enforcement of Judgment Office searches will be required against the vendor/s to ensure there is nothing noted which would preclude the vendor from selling the property. If the property is registered in the Registry of Deeds then a search is required to ensure no document has been lodged which would gain priority over the would-be buyer. If the property is registered in the Land Registry then a similar search would be required. If the property is in the Registry of Deeds then a map search of the area to which the property relates is required to ensure some or all of that land has not already been registered in the Land Registry. The vendor will also be obliged to produce a Statutory Charges Register search which will indicate whether the property is affected in any way by statutory restrictions which are not noted elsewhere.

Property Certificates

The vendor will provide two property certificates prior to completion. One will be obtained from the local council and will indicate a number of matters including any licensing or building control matters affecting the property. The other – regional property certificate – collates information from the Roads Service, NI Water, the Planning Office, etc relating to the property and takes a little longer to be produced.


This is a loan secured against your property. If the borrower doesn’t make the repayments in respect of the loan then the lender can apply to the High Court for a Possession Order so that they can sell the property and recoup their money.

Ground Rent

If you own a leasehold interest in land there will be a ground rent. This is paid to the freeholder of the land (or an agent that collects it on their behalf). Ground rents are usually quite small (indeed some are nominal and not collected). The vendor is required to discharge the ground rent balance prior to the sale of the property.

We hope this brief guide helps you understand the process a little better. If there are any terms that you have heard and you are still not sure of the meaning please contact us on 02891 817715 or contact our property team by email at

Boyd Rice Solicitors announce Action on Hearing Loss as charity of the year

Neil McGranaghan

Boyd Rice Solicitors are delighted to announce Action on Hearing Loss as our 2019 charity of the year.

Action on Hearing Loss support people throughout Northern Ireland and the UK who are deaf, have hearing loss and/or tinnitus to live the life they choose. They run free hearing aid support sessions and provide assessment and rehabilitation services for people with hearing loss.

We have acted on behalf of hundreds of people who have suffered loss of hearing or Tinnitus following exposure to excessive noise and believe that this great charity can make a real difference to peoples’ lives.

We will be engaging with our clients and with the local community in an effort to raise money for this fantastic cause. Further announcements in relation to our fundraising events will follow throughout the year.

conveyancing law solicitors

The Conveyancing Process – Selling your Home in Northern Ireland

Ben Wall

Part Two of our Guide to Conveyancing Focuses on Home Sellers

This is the second part to our guide to the conveyancing process. The first part can be read here. This part focuses on those selling their property.

Picking a Solicitor

It is best to appoint a solicitor before a bid is accepted on your property. This allows for the solicitor to make preparations in advance. If you currently have a mortgage on your property they will need to obtain your title deeds from your mortgage company. The time taken before the deeds are received from the mortgage company has increased significantly over time. This is due to various factors including bank job cuts resulting from the financial collapse and increasingly the mortgage lender will have sent the deeds to a third-party storage provider to hold them on their behalf. A wait of a month is not uncommon.

Once you have accepted an offer on your property your estate agent will ask you for the name of your solicitor.

Initial Engagement

When you have selected a solicitor and notified the estate agent, the agent will send a Memorandum of Sale to your solicitor. This will provide the solicitor with confirmation of the following items; the full address of the property, the name of the purchaser, the purchaser’s solicitor, the purchase price and any other conditions that have been stipulated.
Your solicitor will send you a letter of engagement with terms to accept and return. Your solicitor will ask for copy identification and proof of address to comply with their regulatory obligations.

Title Deeds, Certificates and Searches

The onus is on your solicitor to provide certain documentation to the purchaser’s solicitor. The most obvious of which is the title documentation (deeds) relating to the property to be sold. If these weren’t requested in advance from your mortgage company, as outlined above, they will have to be now. This is a frequent source of delay. If you are using your regular solicitor, and you have no mortgage on your property, then it is likely that your solicitor will already hold your title deeds. This should speed matters up.

Along with the deeds your solicitor will send a draft contract, which will incorporate the Law Society’s General Conditions of Sale, and any special conditions deemed relevant at that time.

Your solicitor is obliged to obtain two property certificates. One is sought from the local council and one from the DOE. The wait times are two to three weeks typically. Solicitors are increasingly encouraged to order these as soon as possible in the process to avoid delay later. However many solicitors still have a practice of not ordering these until they have received the deeds from the mortgage company or the purchaser’s solicitor has confirmed that a mortgage offer has been made. Depending on the contents of the DOE property certificate your solicitor may need to order a NI Water map to demonstrate the location of any sewers traversing the property. It takes a couple of days for this to come in.

Your solicitor is obliged to obtain Bankruptcy and Enforcement of Judgment Office Searches against you. This will inform the purchaser’s solicitor of whether there may be any restrictions on you selling the property.

Another necessary search is in the Statutory Charges Register. This search is against the property rather than you and may indicate issues regarding planning, sewerage, roads, etc.

The purchaser’s solicitor will assess all these documents and discuss them with the purchaser. Some issues may be raised and your solicitor will have to try deal with these as best as possible.

Replies to Pre-Contract Enquiries and Fixtures and Fittings List

This is a key document. Completed by you and your solicitor, it is a questionnaire which covers almost every conceivable aspect of the property. Depending on the answers the purchaser’s solicitor may have to enquire further before he/she can be satisfied that they can advise their client to purchase the property. The most common issues that arise are around planning permission and building control. If you have carried out any work without seeking consent then your solicitor will help you obtain retrospective consent. If the property is leasehold you should provide a copy of the up to date ground rent receipt to your solicitor. If you do not have one you should contact the ground rent holder to check the balance and discharge this prior to completion. The receipt can then be provided to the purchaser’s solicitor. If the property is serviced by gas then you should obtain a gas safety certificate from within the twelve months prior to the sale of the property.

Mortgage Application and Surveys

Whilst this exchange of documentation is ongoing the purchaser will be securing his/her mortgage offer. Their mortgage company will send a valuer to your property to assess whether it is worth the money that has been agreed. The purchaser also has the option to obtain a survey of the property. This survey will be a comprehensive review of the condition of the property. It will flag up any issues which the average layman may not be able to spot. These surveys are often used in negotiating a reduction in the sale price.


The time between the signing of the contract and completion has shortened over the years. There is no need to get too concerned if you are completing in a week and the contracts have not yet been signed, just speak to your solicitor.
The purchaser signs the contract first. It is then sent to your solicitor. You will sign it and once it is returned to the purchaser’s solicitor the contract is formed and binding. In practical terms, this is the point of no return. If you try to back out after this point the purchaser has options such as utilising the courts to ensure the contract goes ahead.

If there are matters outstanding and time is of the essence then the contract may be signed subject to special conditions.
At the same time the purchaser’s solicitor sends the contract to your solicitor he/she will send a draft deed. This is the document that will formally transfer the legal interest in the property from you to the purchaser. You will sign this prior to completion and your solicitor will send it to the purchaser’s solicitor after completion.


In the run up to completion your solicitor will confirm with your mortgage company the exact amount needed to redeem your mortgage.

Depending on the contract the purchaser’s solicitor will either send a cheque for the purchase price to arrive on the completion date, or they will send a bank transfer on the day itself. Once this has been received your solicitor will contact the estate agent to inform them that they may give the purchaser the keys.

Your solicitor will subsequently send the transfer deed to the purchaser’s solicitor. Your solicitor will pay the redemption money required to your mortgage company who will then send a “sealed vacate” to your solicitor. This sealed vacate is usually forwarded, along with the required fee, to the purchaser’s solicitor. The purchaser’s solicitor submits the transfer deed and the sealed vacate for registration and ownership of the property is transferred to the purchaser.

Your solicitor will draft up a cash statement for you showing the expenses and also the balance funds that are due to you which they will transfer to you by cheque or by bank transfer.

If you would like advice in relation to buying and/or selling property please give us a call on 02891 817715 or contact our property team by email at

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year from Boyd Rice Solicitors

Neil McGranaghan

2018 has been a great year for Boyd Rice Solicitors.

Thank you to all of our clients for your instructions over the past 12 months.

Our office will close from midday on Monday 24th December 2018 and will re-open on 2nd January 2019.

If you require urgent advice please email and one of the team will get back to you ASAP.

Best wishes for the festive season from all our Staff. See you in the New Year!

Boyd Rice Solicitors introduce 24 hour accident helpline

Neil McGranaghan

As part of our continued commitment to our existing clients and in line with considerable growth in our road traffic accident department, Boyd Rice Solicitors will be the first law firm in Northern Ireland to offer a 24 hour, 7 days a week accident helpline.

This ensures that any of our clients, old or new, can benefit from free legal advice at the scene of an accident.

Our accident helpline number is;


Please save this on your phone for future reference.
Not only will we be in a position to provide you with initial advice but we can also;
– Arrange for your vehicle to be repaired;
– Arrange for you to receive a replacement vehicle;
– Liaise with Police;
– Arrange for medical treatment including physiotherapy and rehabilitation;
– Secure compensation for your injuries;
– Claim for any depreciation to your vehicle;
– Recover your insurance excess;
– Recover your loss of earnings.

We always strive to ensure that our client’s insurance is not affected by a non-fault accident

For further information please consult our website;

or email the team;


Debt Recovery Advice

Ben Wall

Boyd Rice Solicitors offer a competitively priced debt recovery service

We are continuing to grow our debt recovery service. Businesses are increasingly entrusting Boyd Rice Solicitors to recover their debts. If you have a debt, that has been outstanding for up to six years, we will take all of the necessary and appropriate steps to recover it. Our firm is known for its extensive litigation experience.

There are a number of reasons why it pays to instruct a solicitor to recover debts on your behalf. Firstly, correspondence from a solicitor is much more likely to be taken seriously. The debtor will know you are contemplating litigation so they cannot ignore the demands any longer. Secondly, chasing debts is a time consuming process. By outsourcing this task to us you can focus on attracting new clients and issuing new bills. You can trust us to recover your outstanding debt. Thirdly, we can provide you with the advice that ultimate saves you money. We will know when you should issue a bankruptcy petition or when you should issue county court proceedings. If you were to make a mistake in selecting the appropriate forum you could waste further time and money.

To discuss our rates and how we can help your business contact us at 02891 817715 or email

Hearing loss claims solicitors

Hearing Loss/ Tinnitus claims v Michelin Tyre PLC

Neil McGranaghan

Book your free initial consultation now!

We are receiving an increasing number of new instructions since the closure of the factory earlier this year from clients who wish to explore a claim for compensation relating to loss of hearing or tinnitus resulting from their employment with Michelin.

As a result, we are running a series of law clinics in Ballymena North Business Centre. The first clinic is on Friday 23rd November 2018 beginning at 2pm and ending at 5pm.

Neil McGranaghan will be in attendance to meet new clients and discuss potential cases. Please bring photographic id to the appointment together with all other relevant information in respect of your claim.

To confirm your attendance please telephone our office on 02891 817715 or email

For further information please check out our website;

or our Facebook page;


If you cannot make the clinic on Friday 23rd November due to work commitments don’t worry, we will be back at Ballymena North Business Centre on Thursday 29th November 2018 between 6pm and 8pm.

Building Control

Selling a Property after carrying out Works

Ben Wall

Failure to follow the Building Control Regulations can delay your sale

When you decide to sell your property and you put your to-do list together it might look something like this;
1. Speak to an estate agent and get a rough valuation;
2. Check with your mortgage company as to how much is left to repay;
3. Decide whether you’re going to rent or buy post-sale;
4. Find a deep cleaning company to make the property look presentable to prospective buyers;
5. Find a gardener to tidy the outside;
6. Consider what items in the house you might throw away.

One thing that might be far from the forefront of your mind is what to do about all the work you have had done to the property. Surely if the work was done a few years ago and there’s been no problems then that’s the end of the matter? Possibly not if you didn’t follow the Building Control Regulations.

Building Control Regulations

The Building Control Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2012 are legal requirements which lay down levels of performance for the construction of buildings and installation of some services. The rationale is that they help to protect the health and safety of people in or around buildings by raising standards.

Some works are covered by the Regulations and some works are exempt. Works covered by the Regulations include; replacement of a boiler; installation of a new central heating system; installation of cavity wall or roof space installation; installation of a wood fired burner. On the other hand replacing your whole kitchen or bathroom is exempt. To find out whether the work you have carried out is covered see here.

Completion Certificates

If you were to do everything by the book (or should we say – by the Regulations) you would give your local council’s Building Control department notice, in advance, that you are going to carry out works covered by the Regulations and submit your plans. Their surveyor could then come out to inspect the work at various stages, depending on what is being done, and at the end they would inspect and give a Completion Certificate. If you do happen to have one you do not need to worry about reading the rest of this article! Just make sure you keep this safe and give it to your solicitor whenever you come to sell your property.

Regularisation Certificates

So what if you haven’t got a Completion Certificate, how do you get around this? It depends on when the work was carried out. If it was completed more than ten years ago then you can relax and put the feet up (that time limit is reduced to five years for the installation or conversion of a central heating system). If the unauthorised work was carried out within that time then a solicitor for a prospective purchaser can insist on the production of a Regularisation Certificate. This is a retrospective sign off of the works carried out. It will cost a little more than if you had applied at the outset but it will confirm for the purchaser’s satisfaction that the works have been carried out to an appropriate standard. If the prospective purchaser is buying with the assistance of a mortgage company, the lender is very unlikely to let the sale go through with the production of such a certificate.

Potential for delay

Sometimes these issues don’t arise until a few weeks into the conveyancing process when the parties realise there are unauthorised works which need to be cleared. This means the vendor has to make the relevant application to the local council, the local council has to send out a surveyor and the surveyor has to draft up a certificate. This can cause unnecessary delay and, in some circumstances, cause an impatient buyer to go elsewhere.

The lesson then is when you decide to sell your property, and you’re putting together your to-do list, have a think about all of the work you’ve had done to the property. Is there a valid Completion Certificate? If not, then make your application to your local council as you won’t be able to sell your property without getting retrospective approval.

If you would like advice in relation to any issue regarding the Building Control Regulations, or the sale of a property, please give us a call on 02891 817715 or contact our property team by email at

hearing loss claims solicitors

Do you work in construction or industry? Have you developed Hearing loss or Tinnitus?

Neil McGranaghan

Boyd Rice Solicitors have successfully recovered compensation on behalf of clients who have sustained damage to their hearing as a result of their employer failing to provide adequate protection. We have successfully recovered compensation against the following local employers;


  • Shorts
  • Bombardier
  • Harland and Wolff
  • Ford
  • Visteon
  • James Mackie and sons
  • Ministry of Defence
  • British Enkalon
  • Crepe Weavers
  • Donaghadee Carpets
  • Carpets International
  • Spence Bryson Carpets Ltd
  • Regency Carpet Manufacturing Company Ltd
  • LE Pritchett (NI) Ltd

We offer a free initial consultation and can facilitate meetings outside of normal working hours. Please give us a call on 02891 817715 or Belfast on 02890387060 or email;

Do you work in industry or construction? Do you use vibrating hand-held tools at work for prolonged periods?

Neil McGranaghan

Have you developed hand conditions such as Vibration White Finger, Hand/Arm Vibration Syndrome (HAVS), Raynaud’s Phenomenon or Carpel Tunnel Syndrome?

Boyd Rice Solicitors have an experienced team of Solicitors who have recovered compensation for clients in actions against their current or former employers. We may be able to help even if the Company that you used to work for no longer exists. Working in construction or industry can place significant strain on your hands and unfortunately this can lead to conditions which will affect you on a daily basis for the rest of your life. Using any of the following tools for prolonged periods can be harmful to your arms or hands;

– Kango hammers
– Pneumatic jack hammers
– Drills
– Chain saws
– Grinders
– Sanders
– Bucking bars
– Hydraulic breakers

Using this type of equipment can also lead to hearing loss.

If you have developed a hand/arm condition as a result of your employment please give us a call to arrange a consultation. Our initial consultation is completely confidential, without obligation and free of charge. Please ring our Newtownards office on 02891 817715or Belfast on 02890387060 or email