Over 14 cross-industry trade and representative bodies, including the Law Society of England and Wales, have come together to create and endorse a new Freehold Management Enquiries (FME1) form.
Those involved in the creation of the FME1 form are urging all conveyancers to use this new standardised questionnaire to secure the necessary information if a property being sold is managed freehold. This is where a freehold property has a shared amenity requiring a maintenance either through an estate rent charge or covenants set out in the title.
The information required by the FME1 would come from the rent charge owner, the management company, the managing agent or any appointed representative of them, and would provide greater certainty around the provision of the information required to ensure the conveyancing process can progress.
Use of the new FME1 form will ensure that prospective purchasers have full details of any contribution required, who organises the maintenance arrangements for the shared areas/amenities, likely increases to these amounts, and who owes what.
Currently, each conveyancing firm raises their own preferred questions in such cases which the group believes can create confusion and extra work, especially where the seller's conveyancer does not ask all of the questions required by the buyer's conveyancer.
Russell Hewitson, chair of the Law Society's Conveyancing and Land Law Committee said: "It is good to have so many organisations involved in the production of this form and endorsing this set of enquiries for freehold properties which are subject to service charge payments.
As it has now been made clear by government that it is looking to developers to sell houses as freehold rather than leasehold, this may mean an increase in freehold estates involving charges for services that everyone on the estate shares - such as roads. We hope it will be easier for conveyancers and for those answering the questions to have a standard form."
Notes to editors
- The new FME1 form has been based on the updated Leasehold Property Enquiries (LPE1) form, which was also amended by a cross-industry group, and is now used in over 70% of all such transactions.
- Organisations which have collaborated, fed into the creation of the FME1 form, and approve the LPE1 include: ARHM, ARLA, ARMA, the British Property Federation, the Conveyancing Association, the Homeowners Alliance, CILEx, IRPM, the Law Society, the Leaseholder Association, NAEA, RICS, RTMF and the Society of Licensed Conveyancers.
- This group of organisations and trade bodies will enter into a memorandum of understanding so that they jointly hold the copyright, with the form both freely available and available for free, to those who wish to use it but without the ability to alter the questions or format.
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