What happens after completion?

(Last Updated: 21/02/2024)
7 min read
Key Takeaways
  • What happens after completion is different for every party. If you've just bought a house, you will need to update your details, redirect your post and maybe register for property alerts with the Land Registry/
  • The solicitor still has legal work to do, even post completion. They will make sure stamp duty is paid and register the property and any legal agreements like a deed of trust at the Land Registry.
  • If the property is a leasehold, the solicitor will need to obtain notice from the freeholder.

On the day of completion:

  • 1 The balance of the completion money is sent to the seller's solicitor
  • 2 The seller's solicitor confirms receipt and agrees to the release of the keys
  • 3Complete! You own the property and can move in.

What do I need to do after completion?

  • Check your meters and report these to the relevant suppliers
  • Update your address and contact details
  • Redirect your post to your new address
  • Sign up for property alerts at the Land Registry to protect from property fraud

For you, the time after completion is used for decorating and unpacking. For your solicitor, there is still legal work to wrap up. After completion, they'll file your stamp duty land tax return, receive notice from the freeholder (if leasehold) and register the property in your name at the Land Registry.

With most conveyancing transactions taking 10 weeks from offer accepted to completion, it may take you by surprise that the legal work after completion may take this long or more to finally register the property in your name. Freehold property is often registered faster because, with leasehold, the solicitor needs to get a transfer notice from the seller's solicitors.

How long does Land Registry take?

The application must be made within 30 working days from the date of the Priority and Bankruptcy Searches. As of February 2024, around 30% of the applications are automated and get finalised within minutes. More than half of the remaining applications can take up to 2-3 months or in some instances even up to 7 months.

The reason for these delays is usually the large backlog of files which the Land Registry is amending. We talk about this more in our article - Land Registry Delays.

Your transaction is protected as soon as the application is submitted, no matter how long the registration process takes.

What do solicitors do after completion?

  • File Stamp Duty Land Tax Return and pay any tax due

  • (If leasehold) Obtain notice from Freeholder

  • Register the property

  • Register the Declaration of Trust (if Tenants in Common)

  • 1

    File Stamp Duty Land Tax Return and pay any tax due

Prior to completion you will have paid any stamp duty land tax to your solicitor which your solicitor pays this to Revenue & Customs along with your files land tax return, no later than 30 days after completion. Even if there is no stamp duty to be paid because your property's value is below the threshold, then a stamp duty land tax return is still filed to H M Revenue & Customs.

You can calculate your stamp duty here - Stamp Duty Calculator

  • 2

    Obtain notice from Freeholder (if leasehold)

Often, your lease will contain requirements such as covenants to obtain notice of assignment from the Landlord. This is when your solicitor will give notice to the freeholder of the property that you are the new leasehold owner after completion. There is usually a fee which the landlord will charge for this right and information on this can be found in the lease itself. For those buying with a mortgage, this notice is an absolute requirement.

All covenants must be complied with because any failure can result in the property not being able to be registered!

  • 3

    Register the property

With your stamp duty land tax form submitted (and notice returned), your solicitor is able to register you as the new owner at the Land Registry using form AP1, i.e. register the change in title. This is compulsory and is considered to be definitive proof of ownership. This is a vital step because, without it, you will not be able to sell or otherwise deal with the property and could even have the entire transaction set aside if the property is resold to another buyer in good faith who subsequently registers the property with the Land Registry.

It is also on the same AP1 form that a mortgage will be registered against the property. If the mortgage is not registered and a subsequent lender loans funds on the property, the first lender will lose priority and could become an unsecured lender. A lender will be very keen to have it confirmed that their investment has been protected and registered at the Land Registry so this is an important step in the post-completion process.

Solicitor did not register property post completion?

If your solicitor did not register property because it ceased trading post completion, an intermediary law firm will be instructed by the regulator to handle the process.

If you still haven't completed, we can take over the conveyancing quote and see you through to completion.

  • 4

    Register the Declaration of Trust (if Tenants in Common)

If you are buying as tenants in common, it is really important you have a Declaration/Deed of Trust drawn up to reflect how you will be holding your share of the property. When you hold a property as tenants in common, each party owns a specific share of the property and, without alternative arrangement, the sale proceeds will be split in accordance with your share.

A deed of trust sets out what will happen to your funds on sale and must be registered with the Land Registry as a restriction on the title. This means the property cannot be sold without complying with its terms. If this is not registered, the chances of lengthy and costly disputes about the divisions of the proceeds of sale or should the relationship break down is considerably higher.

When a deed of trust is registered at the Land Registry using a JO form (Joint Ownership), the following is noted against the title:

"No disposition by the proprietors of the registered estate is to be registered unless one or more of them makes a statutory declaration or statement of truth, or their conveyancer gives a certificate, that the disposition is in accordance with Deed of Trust dated [ insert date  ] or some variation thereof referred to in the declaration, statement or certificate."

Are you buying as tenants in common?
We can help draft a deed tailored to your own needs, even if you're in the after completion stage. We can also help with a Floating Deed of Trust if you want your shares to be affected according to your ongoing contributions. Contact us and we can best advise you based on your circumstances.

What documents do you get after completion?

After you have completed on the purchase of your house and your solicitor has registered the new ownership at the Land Registry, your solicitor sends you the following:

  • Title deeds; OR
  • Title Information Document which is a snapshot of information the Land Registry holds about the property (previously called Official Copies); AND
  • Solicitor's Report on Title
  • Property Information Form (TA6)
  • Fitting ann Contents Form (TA10)
  • Mortgage Documents
  • Copy of your lease (if leasehold)
  • Leasehold Management Pack (if leasehold)
  • Indemnity Insurance Certiticate (if applicable)
  • SDLT5 as evidence that the Stamp Duty has been paid
  • Energy Performance Certificate
  • Warranty Certificate (for new builds)
Frequently Asked Questions
Andrew Boast of Sam Conveyancing
Written by:
Andrew started his career in 2000 working within conveyancing solicitor firms and grew hands-on knowledge of a wide variety of conveyancing challenges and solutions. After helping in excess of 50,000 clients in his career, he uses all this experience within his article writing for SAM, mainstream media and his self published book How to Buy a House Without Killing Anyone.
Caragh Bailey, Digital Marketing Manager
Reviewed by:

Caragh is an excellent writer in her own right as well as an accomplished copy editor for both fiction and non-fiction books, news articles and editorials. She has written extensively for SAM for a variety of conveyancing, survey and mortgage related articles.

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