Notice to complete – A contract’s teeth

To ensure parties to a contract for the sale or purchase of property or land complete on the date set in the contract for completion, there is usually a contractual condition covering what happens if either party does not complete on the completion date or by the completion time.

If completion does not take place on the correct date and by the correct time, the party not in breach will have their solicitor serve on the defaulting party’s solicitor a notice to complete, making time of the essence. This is usually 10 working days after service (depending on the contract conditions) and will require the party in breach to pay interest until completion takes place. Depending on contract conditions this may involve other payments on a daily basis until completion takes place.

If the defaulting party pays the amount before the expiry of notice, completion takes place, and the parties move on the date when breach is paid.

If when the notice expires the contract remains uncompleted, then the party not in default may terminate the contract and forfeit the deposit, and claim damages for any losses that may have occurred and which are covered by the contract if the buyer does not complete. However, if the seller does not complete, then the buyer will have to recover their deposit and claim damage flowing from the breach such as abortive costs and the cost of finding alternative property to buy etc.

Your solicitor will have to advise you if a transaction does not proceed after the breach and this may include other remedies such as specific performance and prevent other parties buying in place of the innocent party.

For all your property needs, contact our friendly team of solicitors at Aston Bond on 01753 486 777 or come down to our offices at Windsor Crown House, 7 Windsor Road, Slough, SL1 2DX.


Nick Powe, Senior Property Solicitor


When completions go wrong for silly reasons


Recently we were acting on a sale and purchase of a property. The sale completed by 11am and the money went to the seller’s Solicitor via the banking system at 11:15. This went into the solicitors client account and the clients were notified by the seller’s solicitor in the usual way. At 12 noon, the seller’s solicitors informed us they had not yet got the money but promised to check with their bank see why it had not reached them. By 12:30 they said that no money had yet been received, and could we check whether it had been sent by our bank, which it had. We asked the sellers Solicitor to check the account number they had given us. They then realised us that they had given us the wrong client account number, and still could not release the keys until the funds were received by them, even though the error was theirs. It then took over 2 hours without the client being able to move, and for our bank and the seller’s Solicitors bank to sort out the issue. The problem all stemmed from one error; the seller’s Solicitors providing the incorrect account number.

Finally the banks found the money in the incorrect account, and moved it to the seller’s Solicitor. Completion then took place a few hours later, due to a simple error which involved many calls, emailing and took up far more time than it should have. This also delayed the buyer’s removal company from doing their job as intended, due to the long delay.

The conveyancing process is made far more difficult when human errors are a factor, and the solutions to such issues is often complicated and time consuming.


Nick Powe, Senior Property Solicitor

Problems with Passages

Flying freeholds exist where two freeholds overlap with one another. Problems can occur when common passageways exist, particularly in ex-council owned properties. Passageways providing access to a rear garden or parking area were often built underneath houses, with a separate passageway above. They were built in this manner to cut costs, and while they don’t usually pose a problem when the property is rented, it can become difficult when the property is sold under the ‘Right to Buy’ scheme.


passageway communal gardens passage

Potential problems that can occur

  • Passages only work if used for the purpose intended and whilst there is cooperation regarding maintenance, repair and access.
  • Putting a padlock on the access to the passage may be useless to other owners and may prevent sales.
  • Lack of use may mean the access is lost due to being abandoned by a user over a long time period and may become difficult to reinstate when it comes to the sale.
  • Changes in lifestyles, for example when a shared driveway is in use, can prevent a house being extended.
  • People may not be using the shared parking areas as intended, for example they may be parking unused or abandoned vehicles there.
  • Drastic action in the courts may be necessary to regulate but could be expensive.

The above is not a comprehensive list, as anything shared by unrelated people can cause problems in the future as disputes have to be notified when a property is sold.


Solutions for purchasers

There are ways for purchasers to get around this issue of flying freeholds:

1. Purchasers can enter into a Deed of Mutual Consent with others who use the property, but this is cumbersome as both parties have to be available to sign when each property is sold. This method also relies on co-operation between the property owners, which isn’t always forthcoming.

2. Flying freehold indemnity insurance covers lenders for any loss in value incurred as a result of a lack of maintenance or repair of the adjoining property. It is a cheap fix to cover future sales with only top-up cover needed during the policy term.

3. The Access to Neighbouring Land Act 1992 can allow access to the other property for the purposes of a quick maintenance or repair but it is imperative that the other property is not improved or disturbed.


For help with your property matters, contact Aston Bond today by popping into our offices at Windsor Crown House, Slough, SL1 2DX or giving us a call on 01753 486 777.


Nick Powe, Senior Property Solicitor

Point of No Return in a Property Sale

English Law prescribes that until contracts are exchanged or an auction property is “banged down” there is no binding agreement.

Therefore, the excitement of buying or selling a property means nothing and no plans or celebrations should take place until your solicitor tells you the magic words, “contracts are exchanged” or you have succeeded with a bid at auction.

Until that happens either party can run up expenses such as surveys, searches or legal costs without any security that the property is successfully bought and either party can change their mind without having to pay any compensation to the other party as can anyone in the “chain”.

Nothing the selling agent tells you is binding until the exchange of contract has occurred and celebrations mean nothing. Just because the selling agent says the seller or buyer has accepted your offer, it is “subject to contract” and therefore not binding until the contracts are exchanged.

Aston Bond conveyancing solicitors specialise in buying and selling property as they know what these phrases mean.

Nick Powe, Senior Property Solicitor

Contract Races: The Pitfalls and Perils

When purchasing a property it can often be both time consuming and costly without any certain results. However, many property purchasers are now entering what is known as a Contract Race. A Contract Race is the process in which multiple people attempt to purchase the same house; and if the seller is keen to get the house off their hands they will often start a contract race and sell the property to the first to make a contract. However, with a Contract Race there are multiple pitfalls and perils which accompany it. You are not only taking the risk of being caught out by a faster opponent than yourself without knowing but also the terms of the Contract Race may not be as clear as originally thought. Below are more pitfalls to entering a contract race:


  • You have no guarantee of winning as you can be racing against a faster opponent without knowing their position.
  • You may incur costs without gaining ownership of the property.
  • You must use a solicitor who is used to winning Contract Races.
  • You must have a reliable and fast lender who can provide a Mortgage quickly so you need to get your proposed loan underwritten in advance so an offer can be issued as soon as the surveys are complete.
  • You need to act quickly when you are advised there is a Contract Race so all searches are carried out as soon as possible.
  • Meet your Solicitor so you know the property deeds etc. as soon as possible and do not scrimp to find a flexible Solicitor in terms of speed of actions – top of pile not bottom.
  • Always check the terms of race to ensure you’re aware of the things you need to do to win and weather its 1ts past the post wins.
  • Do not attempt to enter a Contract Race if you have a chain of sales  – it never works as you need to be dependent on yourself and not others


All the best and hope you win!

Nick Powe, Senior Property Solicitor

If your in the process of buying or selling a property please contact our specialist conveyancing solicitors who can assist with the sale or purchase of residential and commercial properties. Furthermore, if you require further advice in regards to contract races please get in touch. Our conveyancing solicitors in Slough can be contacted by calling 01753 486 777 or emailing Alternatively, you can visit our offices at 135 High Street, Slough, Berkshire, SL1 1DN.

When the pub door closes…

As the smoking ban and the fall in drinking in pubs bite, the pub chains are selling pubs not required in the future. Many are situated in areas suitable for alternative uses, subject to planning approval.

Our commercial property lawyers have experience of acting for buyers intending to use pubs for alternative uses such as for development for housing, day nurseries, restaurants, meeting rooms and take-aways. Many pubs have large car parks and good access making them perfect for other uses, subject to planning consent being obtained.

Breweries often demand a ‘quick sale’ and we are used to their deadlines and need for proactive client advice.

Finances must be in place and the VAT situation must be advised both on the price and on the stamp duty and whether reliefs can be obtained regarding the residential accommodation. Completions may be geared to other factors of the breweries such as vacant possession or the discharge of debenture and the situation regarding premises licences being transferred. Future uses and shuttering issues must also be addressed.

We have experience with all such matters and when the ‘beer runs dry’ Aston Bond can help with the new life emerging from the Old Pub.

Nick Powe, Senior Property Solicitor

Checklist for small builders

I act for a number of small builders – both those new to small projects and existing builders.

There are a number of points which must be addressed but which are often overlooked:

  • Plans – arrange for plans to be available as soon as possible to ensure they are Land Registry compliant.
  • Postal addresses – if new properties are to be built, get new addresses issued as soon as possible.
  • Planning and Building Regulations – ensure they are issued as soon as possible and keep all paperwork and obtain final paperwork.
  • Guarantees and certificates – obtain and keep all required papers and any specifications buyers may require.
  • Photos – take pictures as the development progresses.
  • Covenant issues – arrange insurance as early as possible.
  • Builders insurance – arrange as necessary.
  • Final works – have checked by a surveyor.

The above list is not exhaustive but ensure your commercial property solicitor has paperwork as soon as possible to ensure all papers can be dispatched to buyers at an early stage.

Nick Powe, Senior Property Solicitor