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20th November 2023

Managing a Buyer’s Access Before Completion: A Guide

Buying and selling property - buyer wants access before completion

Buying and selling property can be an exhilarating experience filled with anticipation for what lies ahead. However, a common issue faced in the process is when the buyer wants access before completion. This is a delicate situation that needs to be carefully managed to prevent complications and protect both parties’ interests. In this article, we at My Conveyancing Specialist, backed by our expert, Andrew Boast, will guide you through effectively managing a buyer’s access before completing the transaction.

The excitement of finding your dream property often instigates a desire to acquire access as soon as possible. Perhaps you envision commencing refurbishments, or want a head start on making the property feel like home. Conversely, legal obligations tied to ownership are yet to transfer, creating potential financial and legal risks if the transaction deviates from the typical sequence. It’s a complex situation, where different ideas, desires, and legal premises collide.

Taking into account the complex nature of this event, here is a quick snapshot for immediate reference:

  • Legal Ownership: Legal ownership remains with the seller until completion.
  • Home Insurance: Home insurance is the buyer’s responsibility upon contract exchange.
  • Contractual Obligations: Early transfer could breach contractual terms.
  • Financial Risks: Early occupancy can expose the buyer to potential financial risks.
  • Property Access: An agreement (key undertaking) can provide limited access to the buyer.

A quick snapshot of considerations when a buyer wants access before completion - buyer wants access before completion infographic process-5-steps-informal

In the following sections, we will delve deeper into the concept, unravel the legal aspects, discussions on risks and considerations, and provide you practical tips for managing this predicament, so you can navigate your transaction journey better, with knowledge as your compass. Stay tuned.

Understanding the Concept of Access Before Completion

Before we delve deeper into the specifics, let’s first understand the concept of access before completion.

What Does Access Before Completion Mean?

Access before completion refers to a scenario where the buyer of a property wants or needs to enter the property before the legal completion of the sale. This situation may arise due to various reasons such as the need to conduct necessary repairs, inspections, or simply to start moving in some belongings. However, it’s important to note that this is not a common occurrence and is usually considered a last resort, due to the potential legal and financial complications it can cause.

Why Would a Buyer Request Access Before Completion?

So, why would a buyer request access before completion? There could be several reasons behind this. The buyer might want to start some renovation or repair work in the property, which they believe can save them time once they officially move in. In some cases, the buyer might want to conduct a second viewing to ensure the property is in the same condition as it was during the exchange of contracts, as per the advice from

Sometimes, it’s purely a matter of logistics, such as when there’s a gap between the buyer’s current lease ending and the completion of their new home purchase. They might request early access to avoid the cost and inconvenience of temporary accommodation.

However, it’s crucial to remember that accessing a property before completion is not a straightforward process and is fraught with potential risks and complications. It’s not something to be taken lightly and should always be discussed thoroughly with all parties involved, including legal professionals and conveyancers, to ensure a smooth and legally sound process.

In the next sections, we’ll explore the legal aspects and potential risks associated with granting access before completion. Stay with us to delve into these crucial details.

Legal Aspects of Granting Access Before Completion

As we navigate the complex waters of property transactions, it’s essential to understand the legal implications that come with granting access before completion. This delicate process is governed by precise rules and regulations to protect both the buyer and the seller from potential disputes or misunderstandings.

The Role of The Law Society’s Standard Conditions of Sale

The Law Society’s Standard Conditions of Sale form the backbone of most residential property transactions in the UK. These conditions outline the responsibilities of both parties until completion, including the stipulation that sellers retain possession and control of the property until the transaction is finalised.

This means that granting access to the buyer before completion could technically be a breach of these conditions. That’s why it’s crucial to involve experienced conveyancing solicitors who can guide you through the process, and ensure that the transfer of keys meets legal and contractual requirements for property purchases.

Understanding Licences to Occupy Before Completion

In some cases, it may be possible to grant the buyer a licence to occupy before completion. This legal document allows the buyer to access the property for specific purposes, such as conducting surveys or starting necessary works.

However, it’s important to note that these licences should only be used as a last resort due to the potential risks and complications they can cause. As the seller, you should always consult with your conveyancing solicitor to understand the terms and conditions of the licence and ensure that it meets your specific requirements.

The Importance of Key Undertakings Between Exchange and Completion

A key undertaking is another legal tool that can be used to grant the buyer access before completion. This is an agreement drafted by a conveyancing solicitor stating that the seller will grant the buyer the keys, and therefore access to the property before completion.

The buyer, in return, has to promise not to take possession or occupy the property. And while this can allow the buyer to start any necessary works, they must understand that the seller can still pull out of the transaction at any stage. If the buyer has started works on the property and the deal falls through, they cannot hold the seller accountable for their financial loss.

At My Conveyancing Specialist, our expert conveyancing solicitors have a deep understanding of these legal aspects. They can provide you with the necessary guidance and advice to navigate the complexities of granting access before completion while keeping your interests protected. We always advocate for transparent and informed decisions that will ensure a smooth and successful property transaction.

In the next section, we’ll delve into the potential risks and considerations that come with granting access before completion. Stay tuned!

Risks and Considerations of Granting Access Before Completion

The decision to grant a buyer access before completion is not one to be taken lightly. This process, while seemingly straightforward, involves a variety of potential risks and legal considerations. As experts in the field, we at My Conveyancing Specialist want to ensure that you are fully aware of these risks before making such a decision.

Potential Breaches of Mortgage Conditions

One of the primary risks associated with granting early access to a property is the potential breach of mortgage conditions. Most mortgage agreements specify that the property must not be occupied until completion. Early access could, therefore, be seen as a violation of these conditions, with potential serious legal and financial repercussions. As conveyancing specialists, we always recommend understanding the specifics of your mortgage agreement before deciding on early access.

Possible Invalidations of the Seller’s Buildings Insurance

Another significant risk involves the seller’s building insurance. Until completion, the seller typically remains responsible for maintaining the property and its insurance coverage. Granting early access may complicate matters regarding insurance coverage as most building insurances do not cover damages caused by anyone other than the policyholder. Therefore, any damage caused by the buyer during their early access may not be covered, leaving the seller to bear the financial burden.

Delays in Completion and Tax Implications

Delays in completion are another potential risk when granting early access. If the buyer is allowed access to the property before completion, they may start making changes or renovations. However, any delays in these works could potentially delay the completion of the sale. This could have tax implications, particularly if the sale straddles two tax years, affecting capital gains tax calculations for the seller.

The Possibility of Early Termination by the Seller

Lastly, it’s crucial to consider the possibility of early termination by the seller. Though rare, there are situations where, after granting early access, the seller has to terminate the transaction before completion. This could be due to a variety of reasons, such as financial issues or a change in circumstances. In such a case, retrieving the property from the buyer, who may have already started living there or making changes, could be legally complex and time-consuming.

In conclusion, while there can be benefits to granting access before completion, there are significant risks involved. As your trusted property experts, we at My Conveyancing Specialist advise you to carefully weigh these risks and consult professional advice before proceeding with such a decision. Stay tuned for our next section where we’ll provide practical tips on managing access before completion.

Practical Tips for Managing Access Before Completion

Buying a property is not just about purchasing a house; it’s about envisioning a future and creating a home. But what happens when the buyer wants to start that process before the legal completion?. We understand the complexities of these situations and have put together some practical tips to help manage access before completion.

When and How to Grant Access for Servicing Appliances or Inspections

One of the common reasons a buyer may request early access is for servicing appliances or conducting property inspections. This usually happens when the seller is unable or unwilling to provide up-to-date service records or test certificates for appliances. As a seller, you might consider granting access for these purposes to ensure the buyer’s peace of mind and to potentially smooth the path to completion.

However, granting access should always be carefully managed. It’s crucial to remember that the buyer does not have a legal right to access the property before completion. Access, therefore, should always be subject to your agreement, ideally arranged through the buyer’s solicitor. The access should be supervised, often by the estate agents, and arranged at a time that is suitable for all parties involved.

The Role of Estate Agents in Supervising Early Access

Estate agents play a crucial role in managing early access to the property. They should be present during the buyer’s visit to ensure the property is respected and to prevent misunderstandings or disputes. This is particularly important if the buyer plans to carry out works required by the mortgage lender, such as damp proofing works, before completion.

The Importance of Written Access Clauses and Avoiding Informal Arrangements

While it may be tempting to rely on verbal agreements for early property access, it’s essential to ensure everything is put in writing. This is where access clauses come in. These clauses meticulously detail the terms and conditions of the early access, helping to avoid any potential misunderstandings or disputes.

A written agreement provides a sense of security and legal protection for both parties involved. As stated in an article by The Independent, avoiding the cost of these formal agreements can result in false and dangerous savings. Any extra costs associated with drafting these clauses should be absorbed by the buyer, as the assurance they provide is worth the price.

At My Conveyancing Specialist, we can assist in crafting these written access clauses, ensuring that they are comprehensive and cover all possible scenarios. By doing so, we help safeguard your interests and facilitate the smooth transition from seller to buyer.

Navigating the complexities of early access before completion can be challenging, but with the right guidance and support, it can be managed effectively. In our next section, we will delve into how to mitigate risks when granting access before completion. Stay tuned!

How to Mitigate Risks When Granting Access Before Completion

Navigating the process of granting a buyer access before completion can be a complex and risky. It is important to be fully informed and prepared to mitigate potential risks. In this section, we’ll explore some strategies that can help ensure a smooth and secure process.

The Role of a Full Deposit on Exchange

One of the first steps to secure the transaction is to require a full deposit on exchange. When a buyer pays a deposit, typically around 10% of the purchase price, it provides an added layer of security for the seller. This deposit is often non-refundable, meaning that if the buyer pulls out of the purchase before completion, the seller keeps the deposit. This can act as a deterrent for the buyer to pull out and provide some financial security for the seller. However, it’s essential to remember that each transaction is unique and should be treated on a case-by-case basis.

The Importance of Active Property Monitoring During Early Access

Another crucial step to mitigate risks is to actively monitor the property during the time of early access. This can be achieved through regular visits by the seller or estate agents. Active property monitoring ensures that the property remains in the agreed condition and any agreed works are carried out as per the contract. It’s a proactive way to ensure that the buyer is adhering to the agreed terms and not causing any damage or changes to the property that could affect the seller’s insurance coverage or liability.

Why Early Access Should Be a Last Resort and How to Prepare for It

Here at My Conveyancing Specialist, we always advise our clients that granting early access should be the last resort. The potential complications and risks can often outweigh the benefits. However, if it does become unavoidable, there are ways to prepare and reduce the potential pitfalls.

Firstly, ensure that a legal professional drafts a key undertaking or a licence to occupy before completion. This document should specify the buyer’s purpose for early access, confirm who will be responsible for the keys, and clarify that the buyer accesses the property at their own risk.

Secondly, maintain clear and open communication with all parties involved. This includes the buyer, the estate agent, and any solicitors or conveyancers. Everyone should be on the same page about what is expected and what the potential consequences are if these expectations are not met.

Finally, stay informed and educated. Understanding the process, the legal requirements, and the potential risks will put you in a much stronger position to navigate this complex situation.

Remember, you are not alone in this process. Our team at Moving Sortted Ltd is here to provide expert guidance and support every step of the way. Whether you’re a buyer seeking early access or a seller considering granting it, we can help navigate the complexities and ensure a smooth and secure property transaction.


Navigating the intricate landscape of property transactions can indeed be challenging, especially when it comes to managing a buyer’s access before completion. It’s a delicate balance between facilitating the buyer’s needs and protecting the seller’s interests. Understanding the legal implications, potential risks, and practical considerations is crucial to ensure a smooth and secure transaction.

Remember, granting early access to a buyer is not a decision to be taken lightly. It involves a range of potential risks, including possible breaches of mortgage conditions, invalidated building insurance, and tax implications. On the flip side, it’s also important to acknowledge the buyer’s needs, especially if they wish to start necessary works or inspections on the property.

This is why we at My Conveyancing Specialist always recommend treating early access as a last resort. If it’s unavoidable, we stress the importance of having a robust written agreement in place, complete with key undertakings and access clauses to safeguard all parties involved.

Just as crucial is the active monitoring of the property during early access, to ensure that the terms of the agreement are being adhered to. This can be facilitated by estate agents, who can supervise early access and provide an additional layer of security.

But remember, you don’t have to navigate these complexities alone. At My Conveyancing Specialist, we are committed to providing transparent, tailored, and cost-effective conveyancing and survey services. Our team of experts is ready to guide you through every step of the way, helping you make informed decisions and ensuring a seamless property transaction.

In the end, managing a buyer’s access before completion is all about striking the right balance. By understanding the legal framework, assessing the risks, and implementing practical measures, it’s possible to meet the buyer’s needs while also ensuring the seller’s peace of mind.

Call to Action

Are you in the process of buying or selling a property and looking for expert guidance on managing access before completion? Contact us at My Conveyancing Specialist today. Let us help you navigate the conveyancing process with confidence, providing you with the professional support and advice you need to ensure a smooth and secure property transaction. Click here to get started with our specialized services. Your dream property is just a few clicks away.

Call to Action

The home buying process is a journey filled with many important steps, and one critical decision that may arise is the management of a buyer’s access before completion. This stage can involve legal, financial, and practical considerations that require expert guidance to navigate effectively. At My Conveyancing Specialist, we’re here to provide you with that expert advice and support.

If you’re a seller who’s been approached for early access, or a buyer keen to start the move-in process before completion, we can help. Our team of conveyancing specialists has extensive experience in dealing with such requests, helping to ensure that all parties are protected and that the transaction proceeds smoothly.

Don’t navigate these waters alone. Let our experienced team guide you through the complexities of granting access before completion, mitigating risks, and safeguarding your interests. We can provide you with tailored advice, taking into account your specific circumstances and needs.

Why leave anything to chance? Choose My Conveyancing Specialist to ensure your property transaction is handled professionally and efficiently. Our commitment to transparency, tailored services, and customer satisfaction means we’re well-equipped to support you at every step of your property journey.

Ready to take that next step with us? We’re just a click away. Contact us today to discuss your needs and let us assist you in managing your property transaction with confidence and ease.

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