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Potential problems with a POCA conveyance

As part of POCA proceedings, you will often look to the sale of a property to satisfy your confiscation order. If, as part of your order you are required to dispose of residential or commercial property we strive to complete the sale within the required and appropriate timeframe as set out in POCA 2002.  This is a maximum of three months and this can be extended to up to six months on application by your POCA solicitors. You do however need to be aware that there are many different issues that can arise throughout the life of a POCA property sale once solicitors have been instructed. In this short blog, I am going to look at a couple of the more common problems that can arise and how we can help as specialist POCA conveyancers.

How long will my sale take?

We are frequently asked how long it will take for the sale to complete. The average timeframe to sell a property is between 4-12 weeks from the acceptance of an offer to completion of the sale. The transaction length can vary from this though depending on issues outside of your control, particularly when the property is restrained by the Prosecution.  Our POCA department, led by Lauren Bowkett, can assist you if the time runs over to obtain an extension of time to pay by a maximum of six months if necessary.  If you do not apply for the extension you may get a custodial sentence.

Varying the Restraint Order

If you are going to sell your property to pay your confiscation order you need POCA solicitors to first vary the Restraint Order, if one has been served on you.  The Restraint Order is an order from the Court stopping you from disposing of your assets and to protect them whilst the proceedings against you are ongoing.

Once you are ready to sell your property to pay your confiscation order and you have found a buyer our POCA team can apply to vary your Restraint Order to allow your property to be sold with consent from the Court.  If you do not instruct POCA solicitors to do this, you are in breach of the Restraint Order and there will be consequences.

Restrictions on title

If the balance of the proceeds of the sale (after the mortgage is paid off) is to be used to pay a confiscation order, then this is usually noted on the title deeds. A restriction is placed on the Title deeds to the property at the time the seller’s assets are restrained by the Prosecution.  If you are in possession of a restraint order and your property is listed on it then it is likely that there will be a restriction on the Title Deeds.  Most conveyancers will not feel comfortable dealing with this type of work as they do not have the experience of dealing with properties restrained under POCA 2002.  But our POCA conveyancing department knows exactly how to help.

The purchaser’s solicitor may request an undertaking from us to remove this restriction to allow the purchase to proceed. However, this is not how the restriction is dealt with.  The removal of such a restriction can only be removed by the Prosecution on an application, made by them, to the Land Registry.  As we are specialists in this area we can assist in ensuring that this application is made by corresponding with the Prosecution in respect of the sale. We will make arrangements with them to pay the proceeds of sale towards your confiscation order, which allows the restriction to be removed and the sale completed.

Redemption Statements

The restriction placed on the title by the Prosecution can also lead to difficulties obtaining redemption statements from mortgage providers. A redemption statement is a document provided by the mortgage provider that confirms the exact amount, including any applicable fees and interest due, to fully repay your mortgage on that date.

It may seem strange that a mortgage provider would refuse to provide a redemption statement for the sale however, it is not uncommon.

If such a situation does arise then delays can occur. Mortgage providers timeframes for dealing with queries are generally a lot longer than conveyancers. Substantial delays, in some cases over a month, can arise despite them having no basis for refusing to provide a final statement.  It is therefore extremely important that you have POCA solicitors and a POCA conveyancing solicitor instructed who have the knowledge, experience and expertise to ensure the smoothest and shortest sale of your property.

Be prepared for delays

Regardless of the purpose of the conveyance, delays are inevitable, and you need to recognise this from the outset particularly if the property forms part of POCA proceedings.

The above examples are just a couple of the many ways that a conveyance can be delayed beyond the average 4-12 weeks.  Each sale is different and there is no definitive timescale that can be given for the completion of a property sale.  However what we do know from our experience is that delays can arise on properties which form part of confiscation proceedings by no fault of your own and that is why it is so important to get the right solicitors to help you to make sure you do not get a custodial sentence for not paying your confiscation order in time.

Get the help you need

To speak to someone who can help get in touch today:

The above information relates to freehold property only with separate rules relating to leasehold title which will be considered at a later date.

Information correct as of May 2019

Robert Blair – Cohen Cramer Solicitors

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