Authority to prepare property deeds – reminder for all!

It’s always a good idea to seek legal advice before entering into any deed or legal document.  However, you may be aware that there are some, limited, circumstances where a deed or document can be prepared by surveyors. 

The rules governing this are contained in the Legal Services Act 2007 (‘LSA 2007’), which, if not carefully followed, may be at a surveyor’s peril!  As the LSA 2007 is fairly lengthy, we have prepared the following summary as a helpful reminder for all!

A surveyor who is an ‘accredited person’ (i.e. a Fellow of the Central Association of Agricultural Valuers, or a Member or Fellow of the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors) may prepare a farm business tenancy (as defined in the Agricultural Tenancies Act 1995) or a document which relates to an existing tenancy which is, or which that person ‘believes on reasonable grounds to be, such a tenancy’ (Schedule 3, LSA 2007).

This is therefore fairly restricted and you may be wondering if this is all a surveyor can prepare…the answer to this is ‘no’ as there is also the right for any surveyor to prepare:

  • a contract (not intended to be executed as a deed), other than a contract for the sale or other disposition of land (except a contract to grant a lease of less than 3 years); and
  • a lease of less than 3 years where the lease being granted is not a deed.

Note the above exceptions do not include, by way of example, the following non-exhaustive list of documents:

  • an Agricultural Holdings Act 1986 tenancy or surrender;
  • any lease of more than 3 years;
  • a surrender of a 1954 Act commercial lease.

This in essence means a surveyor’s ability to prepare property documents is fairly limited, which of course does mean that legal fees may have to be spent(!) 

On a serious note, anyone who does prepare documents beyond those allowed in the LSA 2007 will commit a criminal offence.

Before preparing any legal deed or document, the above should be borne in mind.  If in any doubt as to whether you have the requisite authority to do so, it is advisable to seek legal advice - one can never be too careful!

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