Property auction glossary

The jargon made simple: To help you understand the new terms used around auction sales this is a simple glossary of common terms with an explanation behind each one.


Land Registry

A UK government department created in 1862 to register the ownership of land and property in England and Wales. provides a reliable record of information about ownership of and interests affecting land and property in England and Wales.


Leasehold means that you just have a lease from a superior landlord, often the freeholder (sometimes called the landlord) to occupy the property for a number of years. The leases are usually long term – often 90 years or 120 years but as high as 999 years – but can be short, such as a matter of months. A leaseholder has a lease with the freeholder, which sets down the legal rights and responsibilities of either side. The freeholder will normally be responsible for maintaining the common parts of the building, such as the entrance hall and staircase, as well as the exterior walls and roof. However, other leaseholders might have claimed their “right to manage”, in which case it is their responsibility. Leaseholders will have to pay maintenance fees, annual service charges and their share of the buildings insurance. Leaseholders normally pay an annual “ground rent” to the freeholder. Leaseholders will have to obtain permission for any major works done to the property. Leaseholders may face other restrictions, such as not owning pets or subletting. If leaseholders don’t fulfil the terms of the lease – for example, by not paying the fees, then the lease can become forfeited.

The vendor's solicitor prepares a legal pack containing copies of all the legal papers that you and your solicitor are likely to need to make an informed decision about your lot. The pack should include (where applicable) copies of: special conditions of sale, title deeds, leases, office copy entries, searches & replies to pre-contract enquiries. All legal packs will be available for inspection at the auction room and beforehand either online or at the auctioneer’s office. You must be aware that you buy subject to all documentation and terms of contract whether or not you have read them.

Legally Binding

An agreement voluntarily entered into by two or more parties that is enforceable by law.

Local Authority Disposals

Housing Associations and Local Authorities commonly use auction to dispose of properties which are deemed financially unviable or surplus to requirements. These bodies have a public duty to show accountability for their actions and that the best price was achieved for the property. Selling via auction is seen to reflect a fair market price of that property at that moment in time.

Refers to the provision of specific information about a particular property and the surrounding areas for buyers and sellers. This is undertaken as part of the conveyancing process by a solicitor. If you are borrowing money to finance the purchase it will normally be a condition of the advance that you obtain a local search. If you are not having finance it is your option whether to have a local search or not.


Each separate property described in the catalogue or (as the case may be) the property that the seller has agreed to sell and the buyer to buy.