The Law Society has just announced the pilot, whereby detailed information about a property under form TA6 Property information form will be shared upfront with the buyers. Usually, the TA6 information is collated by the property seller and produced to the buyers’ solicitors after an offer is made and instructions given.
The form itself has been in existence for some time and covers issues ranging from boundary ownership and neighbour disputes to planning applications and communal areas (TA6 was updated in early spring 2020 to include Japanese knotweed; flood risk, radon and septic tanks).
The Law Society says it is hopeful it will reduce the time taken to complete a transaction and enable solicitors to be instructed earlier in the process.
What’s the background?
Following conversations between the Society’s conveyancing and land law committee and two tech firms (InfoTrack and Perfect Portal), key questions were identified which will become the subject of the new process. These will form the information in ‘TA6 Part 1’ and it’s the Society’s intention that this will help buyers’ make an informed decision about the purchase
The move reflects the acceleration of technological changes in conveyancing against the backdrop of covid-19. The Society says the project will help the parties, as well as estate agents and solicitors, by collecting the TA6 information in a seamless “wholly digitised” way.
So what ‘key’ information will be made available up front? Unfortunately, we don’t yet know – only that not all the information in TA6 will be made available early in the process.
It is also not known whether it will extend to leasehold property and crucial information collated for the TA7 leasehold information form. We would have thought the TA6 Part 1 would include key leasehold information but we await the detail.
It is also not known who will be taking part in the pilot, how long it will last or how it might eventually be rolled out.
Areas of concern
Though the purpose of a pilot is to determine how it works in practice, identifying potential areas of concern to enable them to be ironed out – some concerns have already been expressed by conveyancers ahead of the pilot. Who, for example, will check that the replies given by the seller are accurate before the form is shared upfront? Will the scheme become compulsory and perhaps fall by the wayside as home information packs did?
A further factor is that there are still conveyancers who insist on raising superfluous enquiries which are wholly unnecessary and slow down the process. Remember, “TA6 is designed to be capable of being completed without reference to any other material” (Law Society TA6 Explanatory Notes for Sellers and Buyers).
The intention is to make TA6 Part 1 available to the Law Society’s network of forms’ licensees and solicitors when the pilot concludes. Yet the devil is in the detail, and that detail has not yet been provided. The Society says more information is to be published shortly but, meanwhile, there are a number of uncertainties.