A fairer private rented sector

A move to a fairer private rented sector

A fairer private rented sector - a new white paper, that paves the way to the abolition of Section 21 "no fault" evictions

Protecting renters from the whims and mercy of unscrupulous landlords has been long awaited. For too long, renters have feared reprisals should they complain to their landlord about the conditions they live in for fear of no-fault eviction. Today, June 16th, marks the beginning of the end for this sorry situation with the publishing of the Government’s policy paper “A fairer private rented sector”.

Background to the Government’s white paper

Imagine how stressful it would be living in accommodation that you pay good money for, but where conditions have deteriorated to the point where normal life becomes difficult. Often, renters face conditions where boilers don’t work, roofs leak, health damaging mould build up, unsafe wiring, utility issues, the list is endless. What recourse do they have?

Obviously, talking to the landlord is the first step. For many, no problems are experienced and a responsible landlord will fix the problem in short order. However, there are plenty of landlords that put profit before the health and welfare of their tenants. Their practice is inhuman to say the least. Put simply, even though a tenant may have dutifully paid their rent on time with no default, if the tenant complains too much, the landlord can try and kick them out using the Section 21 “no fault” eviction law and find a new tenant.

Often this process affects those less able to stand up for themselves or have the means to fight the landlord once the Section 21 has been presented and the matter goes to court. For many, it’s too late. Once a Section 21 hits their letterbox, they know it’s the end because they don’t have the means to fight, even though some assistance is available. Ultimately though, for those facing a Section 21 eviction, it’s too much stress to cope with, many go into denial and ultimately bailiffs arrive to remove them.

Some private rental market statistics

Prior to the pandemic, there were around 5000 Section 21 evictions per year. This dropped considerably during the pandemic because of the temporary legislation, but now this has returned to pre-pandemic levels.

  • Around 13 million are in private rented accommodation
  • Approximately 30% have children
  • Under 35’s makeup over 40% of private lettings
  • Since 2019 close to a quarter of a million private renters have been subject to Section 21 notices.
  • Around 25% of female single parents have been subject to eviction threats whereas, over 30% were single males.

What has the Government introduced?

Michael Gove outlined the details of the long awaited renters reform white paper “A fairer private rented sector”, referring to it as “Our new deal for renters”, part of the Government’s “levelling up plan”. This had been billed as the “biggest shake up of the rented sector for 30 years”. This will form the basis of the Renters Reform Act, expected before March next year.

The full paper “A fairer private rented sector” can be found here.

What does it mean for renters?

The white paper sets out a 12 point plan that aims to make the private rental sector fairer for all. A summary is as follows:

  1. Privately rented homes will have to meet the “Decent Homes Standard” by 2030
  2. Pilot schemes will be run with some local councils to explore how standards enforcement will work. This will help speed up Decent Home Standard adoption.
  3. Section 21 “no fault” evictions will be abolished. A tenancy will only end if ended by the tenant or if the Landlord can prove valid grounds for possession. This means that tenants will no longer have to fear complaining to the landlord about problems with the rented property.
  4. Landlords will have an effective means to regain possession of their property should tenants become a problem for reasons such as anti-social behaviour and rental arrears.
  5. Rent review clauses in rental agreements will end. Rents will be allowed to increase once a year and the tenant will have the ability to challenge unfair rent increases through a First Tier Tribunal.
  6. A new Ombudsman will be created that all private landlords must join and through which tenants can hold their landlords to account.
  7. Unacceptable delays in court proceedings will be investigated and improved.
  8. An information site will be created – the Property Portal. This will provide information that landlords, tenants and local councils  need in making the rental sector fairer for all. Landlords will be provided with clear information on their responsibilities. Tenants will have access to their landlords compliance records and local councils will have the data they need to help defeat landlords engaged in criminal activities.
  9. Greater investigative powers will be afforded to local councils to help crack down on rental rackets operated by criminal landlords.
  10. Legislation will be introduced making it illegal for landlords to discriminate against those renters with children or on benefits. Other people in vulnerable groups will also be looked into.
  11. Pet requests will have to be given fair consideration and not unreasonably refused. However, the Tenant Fees Act of 2019 will be amended to allow landlords to request that tenants take out pet insurance to cover costs of any damage the pet may cause.
  12. There’s a commitment to explore how ‘passport deposits’ might be implemented. This would allow a single deposit to follow a tenant from rental to rental, meaning they wouldn’t have to raise a second deposit to secure a new rental while waiting for the return of the first deposit.


Much of what has been proposed and set out in the white paper has been discussed for some years and has been long awaited, and so it’s good to finally see action.

How quickly this will come into effective practice remains to be seen. While it all appears cleanly cut and simply presented, many renters will still need to be assisted in helping to understand their rights. Not least though, overcoming the fear of challenging the landlord over their tenant’s rights will still likely prove difficult, as the more unscrupulous landlords may still attempt to intimidate their tenants in the short term.

Foys Solicitors may be able to help, as we have had years of experience assisting renters and landlords in the local areas of Doncaster, Rotherham, Sheffield, Worksop and Retford. If you are experiencing difficulties with a landlord in a private let, we may be able to assist. Also, we can help landlord’s better understand how to avoid difficulties with their tenants.

Call us today on one of the local office numbers nearest you, or call our head office in Doncaster on 01302 327 136.

Rent recovery outlook for commercial and residential landlords

Rent recovery outlook for commercial and residential landlords

For two years, Landlords have been subject to restrictions in regard to chasing tenants for unpaid rent. Since the end of March 2022, restrictions have been lifted. So what steps can you, as a Landlord now take to recover rent due to you, or indeed, remove your problem tenants?

The majority of tenants are honest and pay their rent when it’s due. Some, when they get into financial problems, discuss the situation with their landlord in a reasonable manner. The Covid crisis brought landlord / tenant relationships where rent is concerned into sharp focus, and over the past two years Landlords have faced considerable restrictions on how they can pursue an errant tenant over rent or in evicting them.

Where private tenants are concerned, recent figures from the The English Housing Survey 2020-21 suggest that as many as 4% of private renters are behind in their payments. Worst still, debt collection agencies working to recover some of this debt on behalf of landlords report that even though many renters have the means to pay, some have chosen to use Covid as an excuse not to pay.

Choosing not to pay rent and forcing the landlord to take action is not new, but Covid has exacerbated the situation. Tenants can believe that by simply walking away the landlord is powerless. For some this might be true, as the Landlord has to be sure that chasing after an errant tenant is going to be fruitful. This means the Landlord needs to know his tenant and understand their financial position – both from the perspective of income and potential assets that could be claimed against in order to recover what is owed. There’s no point spending hours and potentially thousands of pounds on solicitors, court fees and bailiffs if the debtor has nothing to recover against.

What rent recovery options now exist for a Landlord?

In March 2020, the Government took action to protect tenants – both commercial and private, by restricting Landlords in the actions they could take to recover unpaid rent or evict.

The Coronavirus Act 2020, saw the introduction of several measures including the use of winding up petitions and statutory demands, where corporate tenants were concerned, and a series of measures restricting private landlords evicting their tenants. These have since been lifted, allowing landlords the right to explore all measures available to them.

For commercial landlords, the following options are now possible again:

  • Forfeiture. If a commercial landlord fails to pay rent, they are open to the potential for the landlord to make peaceful entry or the premises and take possession. No court action is required and they can change the locks. A tenant can still challenge this through the courts, provided they pay the arrears and costs of the landlord.Suspension of Forfeiture ended March 25th 2022.
  • Commercial Rent Arrears Recovery (CRAR). This permits a landlord in instructing enforcement agents to seize goods so they may be sold to recover arrears.Restriction of CRAR was lifted on March 25th 2022.
  • Statutory Demand. A solid method for debt collection, whether rent or unpaid invoices. This is the initial step prior to legal action such as a winding-up petition.The ban on Statutory Demands was lifted in October 2021. However, Winding-up petition restrictions interfered with this.
  • Winding-up petitions. A court application to force a debtor into compulsory liquidation. Also used to establish insolvency if the demand has not been met within 21 days of issue.Restrictions were lifted on March 31st 2022.

Check out an earlier post on recovering commercial property rent here.

For private landlords:

Eviction notice periods are now back to pre-pandemic levels. In other words, whatever is set out in your rental agreement.

However, due to the backlog of cases going through the courts caused by the court suspensions, Landlords may now have a bigger task on their hands as tenants may have continued non-payment while court dates are met.

The current economic climate will likely make matters worse for Landlords

energy price increases make rent payments harderThe cost of energy is having a serious impact on families and businesses. In fact, energy companies have warned the government that up to 40% of people in the UK could fall into fuel poverty, especially now that rate caps have been lifted. For some, particularly those who rent their homes, stark choices loom – how to pay for fuel and pay their rent.

Naturally, that leaves private landlords, once again, in a dilemma as to how to handle non-payment of rent. While the Government is trying to offset some of the energy cost increases for the poorest families, it leaves others in limbo and at the mercy of their landlords with rent is concerned.

While the financial matters of tenants are not the principal concern of landlords, Landlords need to be prepared as price caps will increase again in October. This means that some families may see their energy bills double or triple from their original levels. At this point it is too early to speculate what measures the Government will take to protect renters from the financial hardships such price increase will bring, but given what we have experienced with Covid, it’s not too hard to see that Landlords may once again suffer.

Foys Solicitors, helping landlords and tenants resolve disputes

Foys have been assisting commercial landlords and residential landlords in and around Doncaster, Sheffield and Rotherham, resolve their differences for many years.

We understand the pressures both landlords and tenant are under and help parties come to amicable agreements. In circumstances where this isn’t possible, we assist by providing legal support and bring the case to a conclusion through the courts.

Call us today through the local office nearest you to discuss how we may help with your landlord or tenant issue.

landlord questions

How to ask prospective tenants the right questions

How landlords can ask prospective tenants the right questions

Landlords quite naturally want to learn as much about a prospective new tenant as possible. However, you need to be careful as to what questions you ask.

As specialist property solicitors, we hope that this post can help steer a landlord’s questions tactfully in the right direction. While this post is largely aimed at residential landlords and tenants, many of the questions and certainly the approach could be used for commercial landlords too too, especially small business landlords.

It might be a bit of an understatement, but being a landlord at this time comes with its fair share of risks as a business venture. The biggest risk though is in finding the right tenant.

What are you looking for in an ideal tenant?

Most landlords are simply looking for a tenant who is going to repeat the property, look after it and pay their rent on time.

The driver for this maybe the basis upon which you, as a landlord acquired the property and what you aspirations are in this field. For instance, maybe you acquired through inheritance and, rather than sell it, want to see a return. As part of your family’s ‘estate’, perhaps even your child-hood home, you want it to be respected. Or, you may have decided that now is the right time to explore buy-to-let. In which case, you will have a mortgage to pay and so regular payments are essential.

The point is, at some level, it is personal to you and should things go wrong, the costs (to varying degrees) will be yours to bear.

To kick off your search, write down the criteria you think your prospective tenant should fulfil. These might include the following:

  1. A good tenant track record
  2. A solid job, steady employment history
  3. An income that is a good multiple of the monthly rent
  4. A good credit score
  5. A stable lifestyle
  6. Pets / no pets?
  7. Good employer references

It helps to have a good dose of realism too. Naturally, if you are too picky, you may never find the right tenant, so tradeoffs are inevitable, but it is something that should be thought through carefully and examined in detail.

What kind of questions should you not ask a prospective tenant?

If you are a naturally chatty or inquisitive person, you’ll probably want to engage your prospective tenant in a casual and friendly manner, rather than in a more formal manner kind to a job interview.

Doing so though, it’s easy to fall into the trap of asking questions that are taboo or grey areas, even though quite innocently. This may put make the prospect somewhat sensitive and suspicious. After all, at this point, you don’t really know them or what they may be hiding, especially as property fraud is a very real problem in today’s markets.

So here are some recommended areas to stay away from:

1. Avoid asking questions about a tenant’s place of birth, as these can be viewed as discriminatory.

2. Don’t ask if a tenant has kids.

3. Avoid questions that hide their real intent, such as asking about local amenity needs – e.g. churches, mosques, etc.

4. Don’t ask about criminal convictions

5. Marital status

6. Age-related questions

7. Disability needs

8. Direct questions regarding your cash situation

9. Service animals

Many of these, such as enquiring about service animals, look like legitimate questions, however, they could be viewed as discriminatory.

So, what are the right questions and how should I ask them?

It’s not what they say, it’s what they don’t say that can give you the clues you need and insights into whether they will be a good tenant.

While still be somewhat guarded, honest tenants will want to help you come to the right decision in your decision quest to find a tenant. They will want to display a level of ‘openness’ to help show you who they are. Therefore, any prospect that appears over defensive and seems reluctant to engage in conversation is probably one you should avoid.

One way to get a good insight is by getting a prospective tenant to talk about themselves and their circumstances openly. Invite them to tell you about themselves. Ideally, as a landlord and if you are managing the property yourself, you need to have a friendly working relationship with your tenant. When information is offered openly you may avoid many awkward questions. It shows a level of engagement that may be important in maintaining a good working relationship.

Overly-talkative people though could signal another danger. Although they may be naturally talkative, it can be a warning sign, as they may be trying to cover something up by trying to give you too much somewhat irrelevant information.

What conversation trigger questions could I use?

Any prospective tenant is going to expect the landlord to ask some challenging questions – it’s only natural.

Showing genuine interest and being openly honest about your intentions is always the best policy. If you don’t behave this way, it invites a similar approach by the prospective tenant. Typically, these are ‘open questions’. Questions that can’t be answered with a yes or no, tend to prompt the prospect into talking about themselves. Also, try to about questions that start with ‘why’. Why? Because it naturally suggests you are asking the person to justify themselves and tend to confer an element of negativity in the question. We’d suggest trying the following open questions:

  1. What is your ideal rental? Continue the questions about themselves.
  2. What has prompted your move? Break the ice and get them talking about themselves.
  3. How familiar are you familiar with this area? Here, you are looking to get an insight as to whether they have roots in the area, such as family and friends that may help understand if they will stick around.
  4. What has attracted you to this area? Many things about your area may give insights into the prospect’s lifestyle that may be desirable or less so.
  5. What other properties have you viewed and how many more are you likely to see before making a decision? Are these genuine renters and are they likely to just be a waste of time.
  6. How long have you been renting for? Are they a long-term renter or is this to see them through until they purchase. Are you as a landlord looking for long-term renters.
  7. How are you finding the levels of rents in the local area? This may uncover more about their suitability and ability to afford your property long term.
  8. Tell me a little about the type of work you do? Do you enjoy it? A happy employee is a stable employee, at least from their perspective. Once you know who their employer is, something you’ll need anyway for references, you can check with Company House to get an idea of size and relative stability. You can also do a Google search on the company to see if there is any negative news on it.

Here are a few more questions that are a little more direct but perfectly legitimate include:

  1. How long are you looking to rent for?
  2. Where do you work?
  3. Will your previous landlord provide a written reference?
  4. Will your employer provide a reference?
  5. Have you ever broken a rental agreement?
  6. What is your income?

Lasting relations are built on good intentions and honest actions.

Just as you are looking for the right tenant, prospective tenants are looking for the right landlord. There are too many horror stories out there about unscrupulous landlords and bad tenants.

Remember too, that the tenant needs to be comfortable too and will want to ask you questions about the tenancy and what they can expect from you, such as keeping the place a safe and pleasant place to live, especially if they have children.

So, when interviewing a prospective tenant, maintain a balanced and open approach to the meeting. Take care in answering the prospect’s questions with the same level of attention as you would like given to your own questions answered.

For all your landlord and tenancy agreement needs and concerns, feel free to call Foys and discuss how we can assist.

This post is not legal advice and should not replace professional advice tailored to your specific circumstances. It is intended to provide information of general interest about current legal issues. Also, please note that although we may use the word solicitor, your case could be carried out by a legal advisor, legal executive or paralegal depending on the nature of the case.

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Residential Property

Viewing and moving house is now allowed

Viewing and moving house is now allowed

As lockdown measures are being eased across England, buyers and renters can now view properties in person and move home.

When the lockdown began on 23 March, it was an unprecedented step to limit the spread of coronavirus. At that time, strict restrictions on the property market were imposed, causing many homeowners to wait anxiously for the pandemic to be contained quickly. Today, as lockdown measures are being eased across England, we can finally report that viewings and house moves are now allowed.

Property market to restart

Sellers, buyers, landlords and renters can finally breathe a sigh of relief as the property market is now allowed to operate from today.

What it means is that you can now view properties in person – although you must still follow strict social distancing measures when carrying out viewings.

It also means that hundreds of thousands of homeowners and buyers can now resume the delayed transactions.

The sale of a property requires a conveyancer to transfer the legal title. Our conveyancing team has been and still continue to assist clients without face-to-face appointments.

Whether you’re selling or buying a property, or you’re a landlord preparing to rent out your buy-to-let in the South Yorkshire region, talk to our Property and Conveyancing Solicitors today by calling your local Foys office or sending us a message via our Contact Form.

Please note that although we may use the word solicitor, your case could be carried out by a legal advisor, legal executive or paralegal depending on the nature of the case.

Enquire About Our Services Today

Book an initial FREE consultation or to find out more about our personal and business law services

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wooden block house on hook

Property fraud: what you need to know

Property fraud: what you need to know

Property fraud has become a serious problem in a changing, increasingly digital world. Here’s what you need to know about property fraud.

Despite all of the increased security enhancements and rules and regulations that govern property sales, today’s world is still full of opportunities for fraudsters to trick buyers and sellers. In fact, some of those advancements have even fallen in favour of fraudsters. After all, we now live in a world where the convenience and speed of email has superseded personal interaction or even a phone call. This makes it easier for fraudsters to create facades and spin webs of lies that go undetected – even leaving some people penniless, homeless and heartbroken.

Just think: it’s possible to buy or sell a property today without having even seen the face or having heard the voice of your conveyancer, mortgage broker, estate agent, surveyor or even buyer/seller. Whether this sounds normal or unsettling to you may well depend upon your age and how comfortable you are about online interaction. Nevertheless, property fraud is something that can affect anyone. In fact, one particular scam where criminals pose as the owner of a property to sell it – known as ‘home hijacking’ – has been on the rise in recent years. The average property scam can end up costing over £100,000.

We’re going to detail what type of frauds you should look out for and detail what you can do to safeguard your property transactions from fraudsters.

Common property fraud tactics

In order to identify fraud, you need to have an idea of what it looks like. Here are some of the more common tactics utilised by fraudsters in property transactions:

Pretending to be buyers and/or sellers

The most common type of fraud is when a person pretends to be a buyer or seller. As aforementioned, while this would have been hard to pull off in the past – particularly as sellers would need access to the house – the increasing online nature of transactions makes this far more possible.

When they act as buyers, fraudsters will withdraw from a previously agreed offer before it has been legally agreed. During this process, they will often gain access to information about the property that may allow them to transfer the property to themselves by creating fraudulent documentation.

When they act as sellers, fraudsters will pretend to be the owner of the property in question. It can be rather easy to emulate a property holder, especially when they know who stays at that address. As this information is freely available on the Land Registry website and can be obtained easily through other means, this isn’t hard. They’ll try to offload the property quickly, often at a reduced rate, so that they can make some quick cash before they are discovered.

It’s important to remember that even if a person has access to a property to show you around, this doesn’t mean that they are definitely the owner as access could be gained via other means such as house sitting or by being renters (with the intent of defrauding the potential buyer and their landlord).

Pretending to be a landlord or rental agent

Many people renting in the UK have got used to doing most of the process online, with the only in-person interactions happening when they visit the property and when they come into the rental agent office to sign documentation. Fraudsters benefit from this by presenting excellent properties online, often with fake photographs, to help pressure interested parties into signing into a deposit before they seemingly drop off the face of the earth.

Again, this fraud may be more successful if a person has access to the property in question (as aforementioned), but this doesn’t mean that they have the legal right to rent the property.

Pretending to be a lender

This type of fraud can happen when a homeowner may be in a dire financial situation and forges documents to tell potential lenders that they have paid off their mortgage. However, genuine people can also fall innocent to this when they are contacted by fraudsters pretending to be lenders who claim they can renegotiate their current debt or mortgage if they are sent payments. This is almost always untrue.

Mortgage fraud

Mortgage fraud can be brought about by people who have borrowed too much money in an attempt to mislead lenders for the purpose of gaining a loan or house buyers who are looking to inflate their income to secure loans. However, it can also happen when groups of criminals – often containing corrupt solicitors, brokers and valuers – mislead lenders too.

Inflated sale price

Often an attempt to scam prospective landlords, the fraudsters will sell properties (sometimes holiday homes) with exaggerated projections of its rental potential – meaning the property’s valuation has been overpriced.

Pretending to be conveyancers

An increasingly common issue that involves fraudsters pretending to be conveyancers (either through hacking or careful manipulation of email addresses) and asking their clients to transfer money to them. This request often happens just before the weekend to pressure clients into paying without proper verification. This also gives fraudsters the opportunity to stay under the radar until the next week and get away with the money before they are discovered. It’s thought that this ‘home hijacking’ (also known as ‘Friday afternoon fraud’) is the most common legal-related cybercrime.

This can also be achieved through fraudulent mail seemingly from your conveyancer, complete with genuine-looking letterheads, asking you to pay an amount into a specified account.

What you should know about ‘home hijacking’

With ‘home hijacking’ frauds having netted fraudsters almost £25m in 2017, and both homebuyers and landlords falling victim, it’s incredibly important to be aware of these scams if you own or are buying property – especially if you are a first-time buyer. This scam often happens during the conveyancing process where conveyancers work to transfer the legal ownership of a property to another party (seller to the buyer).

This conveyancing process involves a number of different steps, such as:

  • Examining and crafting legal documents
  • Conversing with the buyer or seller’s solicitor
  • Investigating the property and its ownership for any other information that could affect the purchase (e.g. if the property is at risk of flooding)
  • Examining mortgages to ensure finance is in place for the property
  • Securing the deposit
  • Signing and exchanging contracts
  • Lodging an interest in the property
  • Applying to the Land Registry to change the deeds
  • Securing/paying the outstanding amount

The ‘home hijacking’ scam involves diverting property fees that the buyer was going to give to the conveyancer through multiple, overseas accounts that are difficult, if not impossible, to track. To do this, criminals will either hack into the conveyancing solicitors’ email address system, carefully manipulate a fraudulent email address to make it look legitimate or through email spoofing. The first method is often achieved by the hacker remaining undetected, reading through the conveyancing firms emails and identifying a target.

When the property deal is close to being finalised, they’ll strike with a fake email (or letter) that they say contains the solicitor’s bank account details. As these details are often known to the buyer at this point, the email or letter will explain how those details had changed and that the amount must be paid immediately. As most buyers at this stage are eager to seal the deal, after an often protracted property search and conveyancing process, they can feel compelled to pay for fear of missing out on their property. When the money has been transferred, the fraudster shuts down the account and moves the money across various accounts to hide their tracks.

First-time buyers must be cognisant of the conveyancing process as these scams often rely on the inexperience of buyers; however, due to the aforementioned nature of most property transactions happening from afar, this is something that can afflict buyers of all experience levels.

What you can do to avoid being a fraud victim

There are a number of things that buyers, sellers and tenants can do to safeguard their property assets and money meant for property purchase or deposit, from fraud.


  • Avoid properties that you see online where you are either not allowed to see the property in-person or any appointment is constantly being changed or delayed.
  • Don’t give in to any demanding phone calls, emails or letters that pressure you into quick decisions – especially when they are related to paying money – or ask you for personal details.
  • Don’t transfer any money without calling and verifying any bank details with your conveyancer – and be especially suspicious of such requests on a Friday afternoon.
  • Be wary of property investment seminars and training programmes that are ‘invite only’ and make hefty promises.
  • Familiarise yourself with the property’s tenure via the Land Registry.
  • Don’t be afraid to ask plenty of questions of your seller – they will have no problem in answering.
  • If you have concerns, make sure to confirm what checks your conveyancer or property solicitor has made on the property and the seller.
  • Don’t engage with any lenders or mortgage brokers that haven’t been approved by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA).


  • Be wary of buyers who come in with excellent offers (especially if you have been struggling to sell) as they may be scamming you to get personal and property details.
  • If you are a landlord looking to rent and want to avoid any property scam, make sure to only use a trusted letting agent.
  • You can sign up to receive a ‘Property Alert’ from the Land Registry’s website that will notify you of any applications or searches they have received regarding your property (or one of your properties). If you don’t know the source of these searches, or why they have been made, it can help you stay alert to any possible fraud.


  • Only pay a deposit into a government-sanctioned deposit scheme (which, in England and Wales, is currently the Tenancy Deposit Scheme, Deposit Protection Service and MyDeposits).
  • Don’t offer valuable items to a landlord as a deposit as they will not be protected. Landlords should not accept this, but a fraudulent landlord will likely have no problem in accepting the item before vanishing with it.
  • As a tenant’s holding deposit is not protected until they become a tenant, you shouldn’t pay a holding deposit to anyone other than a trusted letting agent or landlord.

Foys can help you buy and sell without worry

Whether you are buying a property to own as your home, or you’re a landlord looking to buy a property before renting it out, it’s important to have a team of property solicitors behind you. At Foys, our excellent, fully-qualified and licensed conveyancing solicitors have many decades of experience. Since 1972, our team has been behind thousands of safe and successful property transactions.

We are diligent in our efforts to ensure that buyers and sellers can be trusted, and we also take measures to protect our business from cybercrime. We engage with our clients so that they are always kept in the loop regarding the status of their property transaction, and we will also help them to recognise potential fraud. You can trust Foys Solicitors to handle property measures with care, safety and security.

To get in touch with our experienced property solicitors and receive your FREE initial consultation, get in touch with your nearest Foys office today.

Alternatively, you can complete our contact form here.

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This post is not legal advice and should not replace professional advice tailored to your specific circumstances. It is intended to provide information of general interest about current legal issues.

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Book an initial FREE consultation or to find out more about our personal and business law services

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Couple purchase property woman holding keys

Thinking about buying a house with your spouse? Our conveyancers can help!

Thinking about buying a house with your spouse? Our conveyancers can help!

Buying a property as a couple can be an exciting time, but it is not without its stresses. Thankfully, a good property solicitor or a licensed conveyancer can make that process more manageable.

In 2019, there were over 350,000 first-time buyers in the UK. If you are looking to buy your first property with your spouse, or even if this is the second time you are buying a property, you are likely to need professional help navigating the process.

Conveyancing, referring to the process by which legal documents are prepared to ensure the lawful transfer of ownership of a property from one party to another, is a vital part of any home-buying process.

At Foys, our property and conveyancing solicitors based in South Yorkshire, North Nottinghamshire and Derbyshire are here to help you buy your dream home, making sure that you have a stress-free move. In this article, we are going to briefly explain the conveyancing process and talk about what you should be aware of before you agree to buy a property in England or Wales as a couple.

What is conveyancing?

Conveyancing refers to the transfer of the legal title from the seller to the buyer. When you buy a house, you engage a conveyancer or a property solicitor to ensure that the seller and you exchange ownership of the property you are buying legally.

At Foys, our conveyancing solicitors will assist you with:

  • Drafting the contract, which describes the terms and conditions of the sale agreed upon by you (the buyer) and the seller.
  • Exchanging contracts when both parties are satisfied with all the terms of the contract before committing to a transaction. The exchange will set a date for the legal completion of a transaction.
  • Handling completion day – the most critical day of any property transaction, which involves overseeing the transfer of funds to pay the balance of the purchase price and the releasing of keys.

Throughout the process of a transaction, your conveyancing solicitor will serve as your legal representative, negotiating on your behalf, guiding you through every step while continually updating you on the progress.

Five things you should know before buying a property

Before buying a property, especially if this is your first time and you are buying it with your spouse, it pays to know the following points.

1. Work out the true cost of buying

When you buy a house, be prepared to have some money set aside to pay for costs associated with the purchase such as:

  • Valuation fee
  • Legal fee
  • Mortgage arrangement fee
  • Survey
  • Stamp duty
  • Home repairs
  • Home furnishings

2. Find a mortgage that best suits you

It is essential that you find out how much you can borrow before you start looking for a house. When talking to a mortgage company, you are likely to be presented with many types of mortgages. Do your homework before signing on the dotted line.

A fixed rate mortgage allows you to pay the same interest rate throughout the length of the terms. The advantage is that you know exactly how much you need to pay each month and you can budget accordingly. The disadvantage is that when the interest rates fall, you won’t benefit.

A variable rate mortgage, on the other hand, means the interest you pay can change at any time – you could be paying more or paying less, depending on the interest rate.

Apart from these two, there are other types like standard variable rate, discount mortgages, tracker mortgages, capped rate mortgages, to name but a few.

3. Beware of risks

When you view a property, it is important to look beyond the décor and check for damp, leaking roof and faulty electrical wiring. The house should also not be in a floodplain or at risk of subsidence (when the ground under the property sinks or collapses).

A property chain, referring to a line of buyers and sellers linked together as each is buying or selling a property from a person in the chain, tends to progress slowly and cause sleepless nights. The idea of a chain is that it gives the seller the money needed to buy their next property but a weak line in the chain can spoil your purchase. First-time buyer is usually chain-free. If you need to sell your current place to buy somewhere, look for a property with a short upward chain or even chain-free, like a probate property or a new-build home.

Fraud is also another issue that can impact the purchase of a property. For more on property fraud, and how to mitigate this risk, read our article on property fraud.

4. Draw up a Declaration of Trust

A Declaration of Trust or Deed of Trust is a legal document outlining the financial arrangements between joint property owners and/or anyone else with a financial interest in the property. In the event that the property is sold, you and your spouse know exactly how much each person would get from the property.

For instance, if you borrow money from your parents as deposit and your spouse does not contribute to it, and subsequently you pay 80% of the mortgage and contribute 80% to its maintenance, then you need a Declaration of Trust to protect your investments, reducing any disagreements in the future. In this case, the document will clearly state how much you will get if your spouse wants to buy you out or if the property is sold.

5. Your choice of conveyancer matters

The proficiency and diligence of a conveyancing solicitor can make an impact on your move.

Inexperienced conveyancers may not know how to react when unexpected circumstances arise and they could be overworked too, handling many transactions at one time without support from a team of colleagues.

A good conveyancer knows when to speed up a deal if you are in a hurry or slow it down if you need more time. This is particularly true if you are involved in the property chain as your conveyancer (and estate agent) need to be in agreement with all parties over the key dates and arrangements. Internal support is also key. At Foys, we have over 45 years of experience in property and conveyancing. We also have a team of trusted colleagues who can step in to ensure the process goes smoothly should your conveyancer go on holiday or off sick.

Does any solicitor provide conveyancing services?

When it comes to conveyancing, you can either get a conveyancing solicitor or a licensed conveyancer.

Regulated by the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA), a conveyancing solicitor is a professional who specialises in property law. Their sound knowledge comes in handy when the buying process uncovers a few legal issues.

Regulated by the Council for Licensed Conveyancers (CLC), a licensed conveyancer is a specialist who has trained only in property law. They can be a CLC Technician (entry level) or a fully qualified CLC lawyer.

At Foys, we have a team of solicitors and conveyancers working together to assist you with your property purchase.

Qualified conveyancing solicitors at Foys can help

At Foys, our property and conveyancing solicitors are members of the Law Society’s Conveyancing Quality Scheme (CQS), dedicated to upholding standards and credibility in conveyancing practices. We pride ourselves on the quality of our conveyancing and property services.

We handle new builds, freehold, leasehold, and property under the government HTB scheme. If you are buying a council house, the council will first determine whether or not you are eligible. Once it is clear that you can buy, our team can step in to assist you with the transaction.

We work closely with you and help you purchase your dream home. Our personal touch ensures that we will help you break down the lingo so you understand the buying process better. With over 45 years of experience in all areas of property law and thousands of property sales under our belts, we have the experience and people power to handle many situations.

To get started, take advantage of our FREE initial consultation where we will listen to your specific needs, guide you through your options and be upfront with you about the kind of costs you should expect. In addition, we can assist you to set up a Declaration of Trust, making it easier for you and your spouse to receive the appropriate portion of the profit when you sell the house in the future.

To get access to our expert legal advice and talk to one of our conveyancing solicitors today, simply call your local Foys Solicitors office for your FREE initial consultation.

Our offices are:

This was initially written in 2018 and updated on 04-Mar-2020.

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Property and conveyancing

Property and Conveyancing Solicitors News

Property and Conveyancing Solicitors

At Foys, we have years of expertise in property law and offer our advice on a range of property matters.

The legal details of property law can be complex – our experienced property and conveyancing solicitors can help you understand the legal details and support you with issues that may arise.

The property matters that we can assist with:

  • Buying and selling properties
  • Renting and letting properties, including buy-to-let
  • Declaration of Trust (Deed of Trust)
  • Buying a council house (Right to Buy)

For more information regarding how we can help you, check out our recently updated ‘Property and Conveyancing Solicitors for the South Yorkshire Region‘ page. Here we explain in depth the mentioned areas of law that we cover.

Contact Foys Solicitors for advice on Property and Conveyancing today

We strive to ensure we exceed the needs of our clients and offer a FREE initial consultation so we can discuss your situation and assess your case.

To book an initial free consultation or to find out more about our Personal Injury services, call us on 01302 327136. Alternatively, you can send us a message via our Contact Form.

Enquire About Our Services Today

Book an initial FREE consultation or to find out more about our personal and business law services

Call the office nearest to you and speak to one of our professional specialists or fill out the form below

Declaration of Trust

What is a Declaration of Trust?

What is a Declaration of Trust?

In many situations when two or more people to buy a house together, they split the price equally. However, there are some cases where one person may pay more than the other(s) and want a proportionally bigger share of the property as a result.

In these cases, the best way to accurately reflect how much each tenant owns is by creating a Declaration of Trust. In this post, our experienced conveyancing solicitors explain what a Declaration of Trust does and whether you need one.

What is a Declaration of Trust and what does it do?

A Declaration of Trust is a document that establishes true ownership of a property with two or more owners, and sets out financial arrangements and procedures should the ownership arrangement change. It also covers anyone who has a financial interest in the property, such as parents who have helped to buy a property but do not want to be listed as owners. Under the Trustee Act 2000, a Declaration of Trust is legally binding, and allows an individual to be treated as the owner of a property even if they are not listed on the land registry. In essence, it’s a ‘just in case’ document; it sets out what will happen should the current arrangement change, and prevents any arguments about who owns what, or how much money one owner is owed compared to the other.

A Declaration of Trust is typically used by joint owners to decide who gets what if their partnership doesn’t work out. As a result, it confirms how much of a property each owner is entitled to, and sets out the exact details of the purchase arrangement.

Other things a Declaration of Trust can cover include:

  • How much each person must contribute to the mortgage, and how it will be paid off.
  • How the value of the property will be split should it be sold, and procedures to govern the sale if the relationship breaks down.
  • How to divide payments such as council tax, household maintenance, insurance and damages.
  • Provisions if one owner wishes to pay the other owner for their half of the property, and provisions for any children if this occurs
  • An adjustment mechanism if one party pays above what they would normally for a period of time.

Who should get a Declaration of Trust?

New homeowners often use a Declaration of Trust. This is because it acts as a legal and permanent testimony to their ownership of the property, showing exactly how much they have paid and what they own as a result. A Declaration of Trust can be used by both joint tenants and tenants in common.

It’s also a useful option for cohabiting couples, as cohabitation agreements are not always legally binding – something that can lead to arguments if the relationship ends. A Declaration of Trust is legally binding and clearly states who owns what, preventing arguments over who is entitled to the property.

Contact Foys today – we can help you make a Declaration of Trust

Making a Declaration of Trust isn’t always simple, mainly because you need to think of every single eventuality. Whether you’re looking at a personal or commercial property, getting expert help is vital. At Foys, we have many years of experience drafting these Declarations, and our expert conveyancing solicitors can help you plan for the future, no matter what it entails.

To find out more, get in touch using our Online Form, or contact your local office:

Doncaster – 01302 327 136
Retford – 01777 703 100
Worksop – 01909 500 511
Clowne – 01246 810 050
Rotherham – 01709 375 561
Sheffield (Waterthorpe) – 0114 251 1702
Sheffield (Chapeltown) – 0114 246 7609

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Is your commercial property making your business money?

Is your commercial property making your business money?

Part of owning a business is having a commercial property where you can trade from. Whether you’re making money in retail, hospitality or any other service, it’s vital that you’re able to make your business property work best for you.

If you’re looking to lease or buy a property for your business, the reality is that there are many hoops you’ll have to jump through before you have the keys to the property in your hands. Working with a trained commercial property solicitor will ensure that the leasing or buying process will happen effortlessly since they can give you the boost you need to jump through those hoops with ease.

Deciding to lease a commercial property will mean dealing with a landlord. Most of the time, landlord/tenant relationships go smoothly, especially if you pay your rent on time. However, sudden changes or alterations in lease contracts, or your landlord not upholding aspects of your contract, can create friction. This can result in an overall lack of communication between you, the tenant, and your landlord, and the issue can potentially escalate. Having a commercial property solicitor in your corner means that they can liaise with your landlord on your behalf to reach a solution you’re looking for.

Working with Foys means less work for you

As commercial property solicitors, Foys has the knowledge and experience you need to guarantee that your commercial property is making your business money. We can provide you with a wealth of advice, including providing information on:

  • Acquisition and disposal of freehold and leasehold property
  • Development site acquisitions and disposals
  • Landlord and tenant matters
  • Asset management

Dealing with the legal aspects of commercial property can be complicated, which is why Foys Solicitors are here – to cut through the technical jargon and get to the heart of the matter. We’ll always put you first and ensure that we’re working towards a best possible solution for you.

And the best thing about working with Foys? There are no hidden fees or charges, which means that you don’t have to worry about any nasty surprises when our work together comes to an end. We also offer an initial free consultation where we can learn more about your case and give you a better idea of what your costs with us will be.

For more information on how Foys Solicitors can help you with any commercial property issues you have, call your local Foys office today.

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Book an initial FREE consultation or to find out more about our personal and business law services

Call the office nearest to you and speak to one of our professional specialists or fill out the form below

Important stamp duty changes to buy to let properties

Important stamp duty changes to buy to let properties

Important information for any landlord with the upcoming changes to stamp duty

From the start of the new tax year in April, many landlords will have to pay a 3% surcharge on stamp duty on property purchases.  Please see below for further information.

To act now or for any help or information, please contact Foys Solicitors for advice.

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