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What is the Seller's Legal Pack for Buyers Bill

You may have heard talk of a new law requiring vendors to provide all legal documents before listing their property for sale. This proposed law is called the "Seller's Legal Pack for Buyers Bill 2021". This post explains some of the known details about the bill.

Please note, at the time of writing this post (August 2023), the "Seller's Legal Pack for Buyers Bill 2021" is currently in Stage 2 of the Dáil and has many steps to go through before it becomes law. You can see the current status of the bill and the bill's content by clicking this link.

What is a Seller's Legal Pack?

A Sellers Legal Pack is a checklist of legal documents which must be in place before a property is listed for sale.

These documents will help to show that the property is "legally sound" from a title, planning, building compliance and boundary perspective.

The pack would also include proposed contracts of sale and a few other elements.

Is there currently a requirement to have a Seller's Legal Pack?

At the time of writing this, the Seller's Legal Pack for Buyers Bill 2021, is a bill which is currently working it's way through the Oireachtas.

This means it is not currently law.

While it is working it's way through the Dáil and Seanad, the current bill may be amended and so the the final bill which becomes law map be different to the original proposed bill.

Why is there a push to introduce a Seller's Legal Pack?

Today, many sales end up falling through during the sale agreed stage due to a legal issues which arises. This could be the property not having a folio map registered, a front extension which does not have planning permission, a boundary issues etc.

For sales which do not fall through, quite often they are drawn out for months due to investigations into legal matters or simply just waiting on the vendor to provide the correct documentation.

This is a source of frustration for many buyers, estate agents, vendors and solicitors.

How would a Seller's Legal Pack for Buyers change the sale agreed process?

Today, when you go sale agreed, you engage a solicitor. Your solicitor will then reach out to the vendor's solicitor and start the process of requesting documents.

Throughout the process, as your solicitor and surveyor investigate the property, they may need to request further documents from the vendor. For example, if it is flagged that a front porch is large enough to require planning permission. The vendor would need to show that the planning permission was saught and approved and that the building of the porch is compliance with that planning permission.

Depending on how organised and how forthcoming the vendor is, this process can take weeks, or many months.

With a Seller's Legal Pack in place, as soon as you go sale agreed. All the necessary documents should already be available for your solicitor and surveyor.

Of course, your solicitor or surveyor may still discover something for which an additional document is needed. But even by having some of the documents already in place will result in a lot less back and forth requests, a lot less waiting and as a results, a faster Sale Agreed --> Closing process.

What does a Seller's Legal Pack for Buyers Contain?

In the current version of the bill, a Seller's Legal Pack for Buyers should contain the following:

  1. Law Society Conditions/Contracts of Sale

  2. A certified copy of file & file plan or root of unregistered title

  3. An Architect’s Certificate of Compliance with planning permission

  4. An Architect’s Certificate of Compliance with building regulations

  5. A copy of all planning permissions and building regulations documents

  6. Receipts for financial conditions

  7. A letter confirming roads and services or evidence of rights of way and way leave including rights of access to, over or affecting the property interest, fishing rights etc.

  8. Local property history details

  9. A BER Certificate & Advisory Report Certificate of discharge or exemption from Non-Private Residence Charge

  10. A report summary on planning search, judgement search, Compulsory Purchase, Order Search, bankruptcy search, Sheriff and Revenue Sheriff search, Registry of Deeds Search and company search.

As part of the proposed bill, a Seller's Legal Pack MAY also include the following:

  1. A property surveyor’s report or an engineer’s report

  2. Documentary evidence of any safety, building, repair or maintenance work as has been carried out in relation to the property prior to the property being advertised for sale

  3. Any warranty, policy or guarantee for defects in the design, building, or completion of the property, or its conversion for residential purposes;

  4. Information about the design or standards to which a property has been or is being built

  5. An accurate translation in any language of any pack document if so required

  6. An additional version of any pack document in another format, such as Braille or large print

  7. A summary or explanation of any pack document, including legal advice on the content of the pack or any pack document

  8. Information identifying the property including a description, photograph, map, plan or drawing of the property

  9. Information identifying the actual property interest, whether freehold, leasehold etc., or any further information that would be of interest to potential buyers of the property interest

  10. Ground stability, the effects of mining or extractions or the effects of natural subsidence

  11. Actual or potential environmental hazards, including the risks of flooding or contamination from radon gas or any other substance;

  12. Telecommunications services

  13. Sewerage, drainage, water, gas or electrical services

  14. The potential or actual effects of transport services, including roads, waterways, trams and underground or over-ground railways or

  15. Liabilities to repair or maintain buildings or land not within the property interest; and any other information where it would be of interest to potential buyers of the property interest.

Would I need to hire a solicitor to review a Seller's Legal Pack before I bid on a property?

In the bill's current format, this would not be necessary. The bill only requires a seller's legal pack to be ready and available before a property is listed for sale.

Once you go sale agreed, then your solicitor will still need to do due diligence to ensure the Seller's Legal Pack contains everything which is required. The difference is, because all legal documents should already be available, Sale Agreed and in particular conveyancing, should be much more efficient.

If I want to sell my property, what do I need to do?

At the moment, because this bill has not yet been passed into legislation, there is no change. If it were to be passed in it's current from, before an estate agent could list your property for sale, you would need to provide a completed Seller's Legal Pack for Buyers.

There is no process defined, yet, but you would likely need a combination of a solicitor and an Architect, Engineer or Building Surveyor to provide all the necessary documents and certs and ensure all is in order. This would mean there would likely be a bigger up front cost when selling your home as opposed to paying when the sale is complete or in piecemeal throughout the sale agreed process.

However, as the bill has not yet been passed, this is just speculation and depending on what version, or even if the bill is passed, the process may look different.

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