At its heart the purchase of a property is a transaction between two parties. In exchange for the payment of the agreed price the vendor sells the property to the purchaser. However, this does not mean that it is a private affair involving only the parties and their lawyers. In addition to the public nature of freehold transactions, which are concluded by the passing of a contract in open Court with the contract then being registered in the Public Registry, property purchases require interaction with a range of governmental bodies. This article summarises these from the perspective of a purchaser of residential property. References to freehold property include flying freehold.
As part of investigating the title to a property, the purchaser’s lawyer sends out standard form enquiry letters to the utility companies, the Parish in which the property is located, the Transport and Technical Services Department and the Planning and Building Services Department. The replies to these enquiries assist in the lawyer’s understanding of the location of main services, matters relating to the highway(s) bordering the property and compliance or otherwise with planning and building control legislation.