Steve R wrote:Does my partner really need a solicitor? Shirly she can get hold of standard contracts somewhere, and anyway the lodger's solicitor will probably be 'drawing' those up (downloading them), and the lodger's solicitor can do witnessing of docs.
The lodger has instructed a solicitor and that firm has asked her to ask my partner for her solicitor. So what will the lodger's solicitor fire off to somebody to get the ball running, and why cannot it be sent direct to the vendor?
I've just re-read the more specific questions in here.
As your partner is selling it is much easier for her to act for herself without a solicitor than if she were buying because the risk to her is much lower. The buyer has all the house-related risk, the only real risk to the seller is getting paid - which if it's someone you know well and trust should be fairly minimal.
Just tell the other solicitor that she isn't using one and to please send all enquiries direct to her. Confirm also that they will be drawing up the coveyance itself (this is the contract, the legal document which you sign to transfer ownership).
The solicitor will basically send you a list of what they call 'enquiries' that need answering. Normally your solicitor would deal with getting these answered, and their administrative competence in getting it done quickly and with acceptable answers would usually leave quite a lot to be desired. The list of enquiries may be quite lengthy and will contain some that are quite clearly standard and asked on every purchase and some that are more specific and relate to the title held at the Land Registry or particular issues with respect to utilities, neighbouring properties, trees, planning matters, etc. If your partner isn't well-versed in the details of house buying then answering all the enquiries may involve a bit of a treasure hunt for information but it's all good fun and informative.
Parallel to this process their solicitor will draw up the conveyance and send you the first draft. You then engage in back and forth editing until both sides are happy with it. It specifies things like the property changing hands, the tenure, how much is being paid, who the parties are, etc. You must understand every single word in the conveyance and what it means. If you don't then start researching, use Google, ask people, etc. If you're still stuck then you've either got to pay a solicitor (who will want the whole job rather than just proof-reading a conveyance), or take a chance, or bluff it out and ask that the clause concerned be removed.
Obviously the dates are blank at the draft stage and put in at the last minute when you sign and exchange. The one piece of advice I would give is to refuse a request for completion 'on notice'. Normally when you sign and exchange contracts the date of completion is specified - usually with penalties for either side being unable to complete on that date. Some buyers (and sellers, frequent with developers/builders) ask for completion 'on notice' when means that no date is specified and it happens when they are ready/willing, usually at 14 days notice. This puts the other party in a very weak position because after exchange they are legally committed but can do very little to force through completion if the other continues to delay.
With regard to the money, the usual route would be to request proof of funds (a copy of a very recent bank statement) at the start of the process. Then agree (this is part of the conveyance) how much the deposit will be (10% is usual) and this deposit is paid upon exchange of contracts. On completion day the buyers solicitor simply wires you the balance and once you've confirmed the balance as having arrived in your account you hand over the keys. That's it - done.
Schrödinger's cat walks into a bar. And doesn't.