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Before purchasing a property in London, it is desirable to know the relevant procedure regarding a property for residential use in England. Below is a brief summary.

According to English law, property belongs to the Crown and an individual may be the holder of an interest in relation to the same, which confers certain rights upon him. The law acknowledges as interests freeholds and leaseholds.

Freehold is the broader, as its term is longer, given that it can last indefinitely, as long as there are individuals entitled.

Leasehold or lease has a limited duration that is fixed in precise and certain terms. In order to understand the institution in question, it must be underlined that leaseholder is not an assignee of the Crown, but of the so-called landlord. The lease has been defined as “grant of the right to exclusive possession of a property for a fixed period of time, shorter than that the assignor has on the same property”. This definition permits to identify the essential elements of the institution in question, which are the exclusive possession and the fixed term shorter than that of the predecessor in title.

Real estate sale procedure in the United Kingdom is different from the Italian one.

The main difference of the Italian system is that it is not compulsory to address themselves to a notary and, theoretically, it is also possible the so-called “do-it-yourself”, although no bank would grant a loan without the intervention of a solicitor.

In practice, in most transactions of real estate sale, the entire conveyancing process is managed by solicitors, generally one for the seller (Vendor’s Solicitor or Seller’s solicitor) and one for the buyer (Buyer’s solicitor).

The buyer deposits the whole necessary sum before the completion date on the account of his own solicitor; in the case of a loan, the borrowed sum is paid out directly on the account of the buyer’s solicitor.

The payment of levies must be made to the Inland Revenue together with the submission of a document containing all the details of the sale (Land transaction tax return) and authenticated by an attestation of payment; such document will then also be sent to the Land Registry to obtain the registration of property deeds in public registers.

In case that the property on sale is mortgaged, the solicitor shall agree with the buyer how to cancel the mortgage.

The Vendor’s Solicitor is liable to the bank that has granted the loan and has the duty to transfer the money needed for paying it off and preparing an appropriate document to cancel the mortgage (form of discharge).

Also in this case, as in that of the buyer, money transfers take place through the solicitor’s account.

The amount needed to cancel the mortgage is transferred to lender entity that will release a receipt, necessary to prove the cancellation of the mortgage to the Land Registry.

Exchange of Contracts

Pursuant to English law, the Exchange of Contract is a verbal agreement to buy or sell the property and it is not binding.

As a general rule, in this phase the buyer pays 10% of the overall value to the seller, waiting for the definitive exchange of contracts. Meanwhile, each party may withdraw, request an increase on sale price or a decrease of the purchase price, without the counterparty being entitled to recourse.

Once the validity of the property title and of the other agreed contractual conditions are ascertained, the Buyer’s Solicitor returns the sale contract to the Vendor’s Solicitor.

Each party  ,or whoever substitutes it, signs a copy of documents for the exchange of contracts; only as from this date the contract becomes effective and the agreements become binding on the seller and the buyer.

(Notarial Deed or Completion of Real Estate Sale)

Upon completion, the balance of the purchase price is paid (leasehold or freehold, as appropriate) and the property passes on the Buyer. Completion entails the payment of the price agreed upon by the parties during requisitions; this is made through bank transfer from the Buyer’s Solicitor’s account to Vendor’s Solicitor’s account.

After the agreed price is paid, the Vendor’s Solicitor verifies the validity of the deed and sends it to the Buyer’s Solicitor.

The next step is the payment of taxes to the Land Registry and the registration of the title by the buyer’s lawyer and the payment and cancellations of mortgages, if any, by the seller’s lawyer.

Post Completion
(Post-Completion Formalities)

Following the completion of the sale, lawyers will discharge the last formalities, including the payment of the registration fee in force since December 1st 2003, the Stamp Duty Land tax and the recording with the His Majesty Land Registry.

Legal and Fiscal Aspect in UK


Company types in England:

Below is a list of the main company formations provided for by English legislation for the incorporation of a company:

  • LTD (Private Limited Company): our Srl
  • PLC (Public Limited Company): our SpA
  • LLP (Limited Liability Partnership)
  • Branch of a foreign company

Structure of a Limited

A Limited must have registered address in the United Kingdom. The company name may be freely chosen and must contain the indication of “Limited” or “Ltd” (for example, Alpha Ltd).

There are 2 necessary bodies:

The sole shareholder or shareholders.

Shareholders may be one or more individuals or companies having any citizenship or nationality. Shareholders’ identity may also be hidden by using the service of fiduciary title of shares to guarantee shareholders’ anonymity (nominee shareholder). In this case, the client will sign a trust agreement with the trust company ItalianLimited providing fiduciary services, which will hold the shares of the company on behalf of the client (beneficial owner). The client may revoke the fiduciary title at any moment.

At least one director.

An individual or a company having any citizenship or nationality can be a director. An individual who has been declared bankrupt in Italy or in a Country other than the United Kingdom may be director of a Limited. As a matter of fact, he went bankrupt in Italy, but not in the United Kingdom. The identity of directors may be protected by means of fiduciary trust (nominee director). In this case, the client will sign a trust agreement with a local professional provided by ItalianLimited, who will take on the assignment on behalf of the client (beneficial owner). The client may revoke the trustee in any moment.

The minimum structure is made up of a sole shareholder who is  also director.

Once the company has been incorporated and registered at the Companies House, all information concerning it is freely accessible by anyone, also on the website of the English Companies House http://www.companieshouse.gov.uk/

Tax aspects

The analysis of tax aspects of the incorporation of a company in Italy or abroad requires specific knowledge and cannot be addressed in general terms, but it must be evaluated on a case-by-case basis. It is therefore advisable to seek the appropriate consultation of an expert professional.


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