What is an Engrossment Fee?

16/10/2019
An engrossment fee by definition is when your solicitor charges you a fee for producing a fair copy of a legal document, such as a lease or conveyance, for signature. 

In modern conveyancing, you'll only normally come across this charge if you're buying a flat (leasehold). particularly a new build property and it's charged in connection with giving official notice to your freeholder that you're the new owner of the leasehold after you complete. Typically you're charged an this fee as well as a notice of charge fee (click to find out about other leasehold costs).

This article considers:



Buying a flat?

Our experienced leasehold conveyancing property lawyers' fees are fixed - where possible we cover all the fees you have to pay within your quote - which keeps you more in control of your overall budget.

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    1

    How did engrossment fees come about?

With conveyancing transactions, it's normal practice when necessary to draw up a legal document for one side's solicitors to draft it first then sent it to the other side's solicitors for approval. If there are any further amendments needed, the document can pass backwards and forwards several times.

It used to be the case that such draft documents would be written or typed up on normal paper and then, when finalised, they would be carefully written or typed on parchment or high quality paper. Because of the time and expense involved in the process overall, solicitors charged engrossment fees for doing this.

With the advent of electronic documents and communications, original documents are most often not required, meaning these fees are generally less common, however, as stated, they still exist commonly with leasehold transactions, particularly those involving new build properties.




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    2

    Do I have to pay an engrossment fee?

When you're buying a flat, particularly a new build, frequently the seller’s conveyancing solicitor prepares two engrossment copies of the transfer or lease, one for signature by the seller or person granting the lease and one by you, and you'll be expected to pay for this.

The simple answer is yes, if your freeholder - and particularly your new build developer - includes an engrossment fee in the contract of sale, then you'll have to pay it.


You could ask the developer at the outset whether they intend to levy this charge, however it's unlikely that you'd be successful in objecting to it if they do - it's a matter of if you choose to buy with them, you have to pay all the fees they require. Regardless, if you intend to object, you must do so before exchange of contracts, at which point the sale continues only 'subject to contract'.

That said, if you are told that you won't be charged this fee when you make your initial enquiries, it's advisable to get this advice in writing.

Is this a fair charge?

Given that the actual work involved, as stated, is minimal, you might reasonably argue that this is an unfair charge. You don't have to search too hard online to solicitors themselves criticising the fee.

If your own conveyancing solicitor wants to charge you an engrossment fee for preparing a document, this charge should have been explained to you at the beginning of the transaction. Some law firms hide extra charges such as these in their Heads of Terms (this charge is sometimes called called a 'sellers solicitors document fee') which clients are asked to agree, so such Terms should be read carefully.


    3

    How much is an engrossment fee?

The fees are typically in the region of £120 - £180.


    4

    How can I keep my leasehold conveyancing costs as low as possible?

Buying leasehold always involves more costs and fees than buying freehold (a house). Regardless of whether you're buying a flat or a house, it's worth getting a fixed fee quote - and checking what fees are actually covered - because at least then you'll know what you're expected to pay and can budget accordingly.

At the very least, your solicitor should advise you at the outset whether a transaction potentially involves this fee so there's no nasty surprises when you come to pay the balance of your conveyancing fees.


Buying a flat?

Our experienced leasehold conveyancing property lawyers' fees are fixed - where possible we cover all the fees you have to pay within your quote - which keeps you more in control of your overall budget.

* Fixed Fee – Leasehold Specialists - No Sale No Fee – On all Mortgage Lender Panels



Related News Articles

 
Fixed Conveyancing Fee
07/11/2019
Leasehold Costs – What Extra Charges does a Buyer Face?
11/10/2019
New Build Homes - What's different about the conveyancing process?
03/09/2018
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