Our eminent residential property expert, Ross Ward, answers your questions about moving home. If you have a query about buying or selling, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
I am selling my mother’s property on her behalf as she is physically infirm. Can I sign the contract?
You’ll need what is called a Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA) preparing before the sale can proceed. Your solicitor will be able to tell you more about what is involved.
These documents are often used in the sale of properties when one of the parties is elderly, mentally or physically infirm or unavailable at the time when it is necessary to sign the contract.
A property and finance LPA grants the attorney – in this case you – authority to deal with all assets, including the sale or purchase of main residences. This power can be limited, for example, to a specific property or to allow the sale to proceed only at a minimum price.
Your solicitor will advise your mother on the types of LPA available and the limitations that should be applied. Once the document has been drawn up and authorised, a copy will be forwarded to the solicitors acting for the buyers as a matter of courtesy, to demonstrate you are able to sign all legal paperwork on your mother’s behalf.
I am selling an investment property with a tenant in it. Is the procedure different to the sale of an empty house?
When a property is sold with a tenant in occupation, the procedure is very similar to selling with vacant possession, although a number of extra matters need to be addressed.
Usually, vacant possession is expected when selling a house. As this will not be the case, the contract should include written confirmation that the sale is subject to a tenancy and a copy of the lease agreement supplied to the buyer. If there is no existing clause in the contract, one is often added to confirm the buyer has received the relevant rental information and is purchasing with full knowledge of its contents.
If the tenancy comes to an end prior to the completion of the sale, you should not re-let the property without consulting the buyer. If you do so without permission, you may be in breach of your fiduciary duty. Again, most contracts include a standard condition that obliges you to inform the buyer without delay if your tenant leaves and act as he directs. You must also let him know of any changes to the tenancy terms.
The solicitor acting for the buyer will want to check the terms of the tenancy, particularly the landlord’s obligations. He will probably ask you to confirm the tenant has complied with his duties, especially regarding the payment of rent and may also insist it is written into the contract that you are liable for any breaches of the tenancy up to the date of completion.
On completion, the original tenancy agreement will be hand delivered to the buyer, together with a letter signed by you and addressed to the tenant authorising future rent to be paid to the new owner.