13th July 2023
SDL Property Auctions’ guide to auction legal packs
By Linda Hopkins, Legal Manager at SDL Property Auctions
Whether you’re approaching a property auction as a seller or a potential buyer, one of the most important things to be aware of before the auction day itself is the legal pack. This is something which newcomers to auctions may be unfamiliar with due to it not applying to sales on the open market until a later stage of the process. Every property sold at auction has a corresponding auction legal pack. It is a hugely valuable resource to sellers and buyers alike and should always be reviewed.
If you’re unfamiliar with the term legal pack, but are interested in either selling your property at an auction or have your eye on a lot you would like to bid on, we are here to help. In this blog, we’ll introduce you to the fundamentals of what an auction legal pack is, what documents it includes, what sellers need to know when creating one and what buyers should pay particular attention to when reading through the legal pack.
What is a property auction legal pack?
An auction legal pack is, simply put, a bundle of documents which detail important information about the property it relates to. It serves the ultimate purpose of helping prospective purchasers decide whether or not to place a bid. They are essential due to the nature of auctions, which requires that the buyer is bound either by a contract of sale or a reservation agreement. Without the information in the auction legal pack buyers would be unable to make the financial commitment of placing a bid or making an offer – which creates this legally binding contract.
What is included in an auction legal pack?
The documents included in a legal pack will differ from property to property depending on the specific circumstances of the sale. If you are a seller and you’re not sure which documents you will need to include, we recommend reaching out to your lawyer who will be able to advise on which documents will relate to your particular sale.
To give you an idea of what a property auction legal pack will include, we’ve summarised the documentation which is required by all properties below, as well as those which relate to situation-specific properties, such as those which have a tenant in situ, or commercial properties. It is important to remember that, as the seller, you will be legally bound to include within the legal pack any information relevant to the property which you are aware of and which is likely to impact on the buyer’s decision to bid. Your lawyer will provide advice in this respect.
- Required for all: any special conditions of sale which relate to the property.
- Required for all: official copies of the title register and title plan, plus any supplementary documents referred to in the registers of title. Alternatively, if the property is currently unregistered, then an Epitome of Title together with deeds and documents will be included.
- Required for all: property documents such as an up-to-date Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) and any documentation relating to planning permissions and building controls.
- Recommended for all: search information, including local authority searches, drainage and water search, environmental search and any other searches that apply to the location, such as a mining search.
- Recommended for all: the Property Information Form (TA6) which includes information regarding boundaries, any disputes or complaints relating to the property, and more, together with any guarantees and certificates for the property.
- Required for some: the Fittings and Contents form (TA10) which details any physical items which will be included in the sale. There are some cases where this won’t be applicable however, such as where the property is tenanted.
- Required for some: if the property is leasehold the seller will be required to provide a Leasehold Information Form (TA7) which should include lease information alongside additional charges which may apply on the property, such as service / ground rent charges, notices and contact details. Also, a leasehold sale pack in the form of an LPE1 with supporting documents may be required.
- Required for some: for commercial properties relevant Commercial Property Standard Enquiries (CPSE) forms should be included.
- Required for some: for tenanted properties include all relevant documentation relating to this, such as a copy of the Assured Shorthold Tenancy (AST) Agreement if this is applicable, or individual room tenancy agreements for Houses of Multiple Occupation (HMO), together with HMO licence if applicable.
In addition to all of the above, each auction pack will also include a document detailing the terms and conditions relating to the sale so that buyers can be clear of their responsibilities before entering into any legal contract, should they place a successful bid.
Also, something we do a little bit differently here at SDL Property Auctions, is to aim to provide complete transparency of all fees associated with a lot, directly within its legal pack. You will see that most legal packs include a Summary of Fees Form and this is requested from the seller’s lawyer in connection with every lot. This summary provides a breakdown of all fees that are payable by the buyer to avoid coming up against any surprises upon completion. This is something we feel should be the standard across the auctions industry and hope that it helps buyers to feel more confident and informed in their purchase decision.
As a seller how do I get a legal pack for an auction property?
If you’re selling a property by auction, it is your responsibility to make sure you provide a complete and accurate legal pack to accompany the sale. Fortunately, however, you’re not alone in this and your lawyer will be able to help you compile this. We recommend using a lawyer who is familiar with auction sales to create your legal pack. This will be important to ensure deadlines are met when it comes to the short timescales that are involved with selling a property by auction. Even so lawyers cannot take on everything relating to this process (especially where their knowledge is reliant on the accurate contributions of the seller, such as in the protocol forms – TA6, TA7, TA10, CPSE) and they will work closely with you to ensure that all information, documents and forms included are accurate.
How long does it take to prepare a legal pack for auction?
It’s hard to accurately predict how long creating a legal pack for an auction will take as this is dependent on a number of factors including your lawyer’s availability and the average speed of the local authority search in your local council area. It is worth noting that you may only have three to four weeks from instruction to the auction date.
How much does a legal pack cost to create?
As with the time it takes to create a legal pack, costs will also vary from case to case. This is because additional documents are required for some property types, such as tenanted lots and commercial properties. Empty, freehold properties will be more straightforward. Our team at SDL Property Auctions can arrange legal packs from £390.
As a buyer what should I look for in a legal pack for an auction property?
If you’re considering buying a property at auction and are reading this post to discover more about the usefulness of the legal pack, the most important tip we can pass on is to review the pack in its entirety. There isn’t really a list of the ‘most important things you should look out for in an auction legal pack’ as this would vary depending on both the property and the priorities of the buyer. What we can say, however, is that we do strongly recommend that you share the legal pack with your lawyer and receive their input and advice, as they will be able to provide a more experienced view on the documents included.
Whether you’re looking to sell a property, or need to know more before registering to bid, our experts at SDL Property Auctions are here to help. Get in touch with us online or call us on 0800 046 5454 and we’ll happily answer any questions you may have.