MPs have presented the Conveyancing Standards Bill to Parliament. What does it seek to change? Find out below.
What is the Conveyancing Standards Bill?
The Conveyancing Standards Bill seeks to impose minimum standards on conveyancers in a bid to protect homebuyers from ‘unscrupulous’ developers.
Marco Longhi, Conservative MP for Dudley North, told The Law Society Gazette that he was proposing the bill because homebuyers were being ‘financially exposed’ by a system ‘being gamed by unscrupulous developers and contractors, because it is not transparent enough to shine a light on the potential risks to people when they are buying a property’.
This bill would not mean radical change, but simply give conveyancers greater responsibility in regard to searches and risk assessments, and to ensure the system is updated, so that planning authorities are required to pursue developers to evidence compliance with planning conditions.
‘People might feel that the very fact that a solicitor is handling the conveyance means that they are sufficiently protected. They employ a solicitor not just to carry out due diligence for them, but to highlight any potential downsides. That is not happening with enough robustness, and that is why I propose the bill.’
Longhi gave the example that some homeowners have inherited regulatory liabilities related to properties they have bought from developers. The developers agreed to planning conditions, which were not met, and liquidated their limited companies straight after completion.
Others have agreed to maintenance contracts and have accepted the price may increase with time but have fallen foul of poor workmanship – many contracts state you cannot sell a property with charges against it too.
Is the Bill Likely to Pass?
A private members bill introduced under the ‘Ten Minute Rule’, it has passed its first reading but is unlikely to become law. However, it does highlight a desire for reform in English and Welsh conveyancing.
Here at Howells, our team of experienced and friendly residential conveyancing solicitors endeavour to provide the best service possible, and that includes ensuring our clients are fully aware of the risks that come with purchasing a residential property.
If you are thinking of moving and have questions about searches when buying a house, or are already going through the process and want to learn more, please get in touch.