Requisitions On Title

What are Requisitions on Title?

These are a set of questions, usually in the Law Society's standard Completion Information and Requisitions on Title form designed to ensure that certain key information is obtained prior to completion. They are raised by the buyer's solicitors with the seller's solicitor.  Though I cannot reproduce the the Law Society's standard form here, for reasons of copyright, I have drafted my own version which covers the essential points and can be used. Click here for a copy, in Microsoft Word format.

Most firms will have a standard response to requisitions on title (though there are certain details which will need to be amended as appropriate). An example of such a standard requisitions on title response can be viewed here.

We will go through the requisitions on title point by point :-

1. Property Information

This requisition asks whether the seller or solicitor is aware of any changes to any information given during the transaction. Obviously, if you are aware of any changes you should list them here, but otherwise the usual response would be "Confirmed in so far as they have not been varied by subsequent correspondence". The reason for not just saying "Confirmed" is that the question specifically refers to the property information form, and so the standard response just clarifies that any changes to this form which have already been advised still stand.

2.1 Vacant possession

This is split into points a and b and asks what the arrangements are for handing over the keys and what time the property will be vacated. Check with the seller, but in the absence of any information point a is usually answered with "Via the Estate Agents" and point b with "As per the contract" (this means the property will be vacated by the completion time stated in the contract)

2.2 Not vacant possession

If the property is sold subject to an existing tenancy this requisition asks for confirmation that a letter of authority authorising the tenant to pay the rent to the buyer will be handed over on completion. The answer to this question should either be "N/A" (if no tenancy) or "Confirmed". Most firms have a pre-formatted response to requisitions on title and you will often see "Confirmed if applicable" (as in our example).

3. Deeds

This asks what deeds are to be handed over on completion. If the land is unregistered then aside from a few exceptional circumstances the response to 3.1 should always be "Yes" (provided of course you do hold the original deeds) since you should not have proceeded to exchange without them. At 3.2, as a minimum you should be handing over a transfer deed. The standard response is "all in our possession" and this is usually accepted, although strictly a buyer should ask for confirmation that the transfer deed is in the seller's solicitor's possession if they give this response. A better standard response might be "The transfer deed and any other deeds which are in our possession."

4. Completion

Completion should always take place at the office of the seller's solicitor. In the past when the solicitors would meet in person and the completion monies would be handed over in the form of, say, a banker's draft, in return for the deeds, they would need to agree where to meet. Nowadays of course the funds are sent electronically and the deed posted. The fact that completion takes place at the seller's office just means this is the place where the funds are delivered.

As to point 4.2, you can click the link to see the full text of the Law Society's Code for Completion by Post, and it is probably worth a read, but the most important points to take from it are that the deeds are posted to the buyer's solicitor at their own risk, and that by adopting the code the seller's solicitor is undertaking that he has the authority of the proprietors of any charges (mortgages) secured on the property to receive the redemption monies on their behalf and to redeem the same. Such authority can be deemed to be granted if the lender has supplied a redemption statement addressed to the solicitor. It is unusual not to adopt the code. A buyer's solicitor should remember that the code is based on professional undertakings given by the seller's solicitor, therefore if the seller is not legally represented then the code is not appropriate since the undertakings cannot be relied upon.

5. Money

5.1 asks for the exact amount which should be sent to the seller's solicitor on completion. If this is the amount stated in the contract as being the balance, then the response can be "Balance as per contract". If is it not - for example if the property is leasehold and their are apportionments of ground rent and/or service charge to pay, then you would either state the exact amount here or else attach a completion statement to the replies in which case the response would be "As per the attached completion statement".

5.2 is where the seller's solicitor's bank details are added.

6. Undertakings

This the most important section of the replies to requisitions, as this is where the seller's solicitor gives his undertaking to repay any mortgages secured on the property and to supply evidence of the same to the buyer's solicitor. The seller's solicitor should not give undertakings here unless he is certain that he will be able to honour them. If, for example, he gives an undertaking to repay a mortgage, but he does not yet have a redemption statement, and on receipt he realises that that there is not sufficient equity to do so, then he must nonetheless repay the balance from his firm's own funds, and then pursue the seller through litigation. 

Failure by a solicitor to comply with an undertaking will potentially result in that solicitor losing his practising certificate and perhaps even the firm being struck off. A buyer's solicitor should never complete a transaction without being in receipt of an unqualified undertaking to pay off any charges of which he is aware. The undertaking should be specific - it should not simply say "We undertake to redeem all charges registered against the property". From obtaining Official Copies at the beginning of the transaction to replying to requisitions at the end there is usually a gap of several weeks - enough time for the seller to take a second charge out on the property, and the seller will not always inform his solicitor. This new charge will be revealed on the buyer's solicitor's pre-completion search, however if he has a general undertaking to repay all charges he is entitled to assume (though it would be bad practice) that the seller's solicitor is aware of the new charge and will be repaying it. 

From the point of view of the buyer's solicitor he should check that the seller's solicitor has undertaken specifically to repay each charge. The undertaking should be in the following form "Our usual form of undertaking, which will be in the Law Society's recommended form, will be given on completion in respect of the Charge dated [insert date of charge] in favour of [insert name of lender]" or in a similar form of words, the key elements being that the undertaking will be in the Law Society form and that the date and proprietor of each charge is listed.