© The Star (Used by permission)
by Cheong Yoke Ping
IF you intend to sell your property, you should be prepared with the documents that are required from you.
Some sellers lack the basic knowledge regarding their property and face difficulties in the sale of their property. Having the relevant information and documents will assist lawyers to resolve any legal problems, negotiate and draft the terms of the sale and purchase agreement (SPA), leading to speedier completion of the sale.
The questions below will help you prepare yourself.
1. Is there a title to your property?
The answer to this may be more difficult than one assumes.
The simplest situation is where there is a separate title to a landed property.
Do you have the original title in your possession or, is it charged to and kept by the bank? Some owners are not aware that their title has been misplaced or do not have a photocopy of the title.
It is obvious that you should ensure that the title is in your name as the registered proprietor. However, in the case of a registered proprietor who has passed away, the property cannot be sold unless the probate or letters of administration has first been granted by the High Court or the land administrator in the case of small estates.
If you own an apartment or other stratified property, the titles that are issued are called strata titles. Some developments will already have strata titles but others will not. The legal documentation of a property with and a property without a strata title is entirely different. Again, you must ensure that the strata title is in your name as the registered proprietor.
2. Is your title freehold or leasehold?
If you are not sure whether your title is freehold or leasehold, you can find out by reading the title. You may also conduct a title search at the land office to find out.
3. Is your property subject to a restriction in interest?
Some titles contain restrictions, such as “the land cannot be sold, leased or charged without the consent of the state authority”. This means that the sale of your property must be subject to your obtaining the consent of the state authority. In such cases, the time for payment of the balance purchase price usually commences after the consent is obtained.
4. Is your title free from encumbrances?
This means that it is free from any charge, private caveat and other encumbrances which prohibits the transfer of the title. Do not worry if the title is charged to your bank as it will be discharged as part of the process of sale.
Many sellers do not know the amount remaining due to their bank. It is important for you to be aware as the buyer will want to ensure that the amount owing to your bank does not exceed the purchase price. You should request from your bank a statement showing the amount outstanding.
5. Do you have copies of relevant documents?
You should have in hand the following documents:
For a property with title:
a) Original title or a copy
b) A copy of the SPA by which you bought the property
For a property without title:
a) First SPA between the developer and the first purchaser
b) Each subsequent SPA from first purchaser until the SPA you signed to buy the property
c) Deed of assignment and deed of receipt and reassignment in every subsequent sale after the sale by the developer
d) All documents of the loan
If the property is free from encumbrances, you must keep all originals of the documents. Not having them would lead to complications in the sale of the property.
6. Have you paid all quit rent and assessments up to date?
You must pay all quit rent and assessments in respect of your property or it may delay the sale of the property.
7. Have you paid all maintenance charges and outgoings?
You should pay all maintenance charges, sinking fund contributions, insurance premium, sewerage, water and electricity charges. Receipts of payment should be delivered to your solicitors. You should also make sure that the payments are made up to the date of the handing over of possession to the purchaser. 8. Is your property tenanted?
If the property is tenanted, you should have a copy of the tenancy agreement. If the purchaser wishes to take over the tenancy from you, you should inform your lawyer to draft provisions in the SPA to cover this.
9. Do you know that you are entitled to a refund of your water and electricity deposits?Some sellers are not aware that they are entitled to a refund from the relevant utility provider of their water and electricity deposits. Upon completion of sale, you should attend at the office of the relevant water operator such as Air Selangor, Tenaga Nasional Bhd and other utility providers with the purchaser, so that the purchaser can open new accounts and you can then close your accounts and obtain a refund of the deposits you had previously paid. A copy of the SPA is needed as proof of sale.
10. Do you need to notify the local authority of the sale?
You are required by law to notify the local council of the change of ownership so that future assessment bills can be issued to the correct owner.
Following these simple guides diligently will ensure a much smoother process in the sale of your property.
Cheong Yoke Ping, a lawyer practising at Messrs YP Cheong & Co, is a member of the Conveyancing Practice Committee, Bar Council, Malaysia. This column does not constitute legal advice and the views expressed are entirely the writer’s own.