Category: Conveyance

The Queen’s Speech – and what it might mean to you

The Queen's Speech outlining the political agenda for the coming two years was given this week after the result of the recent snap election. The speech was dominated by brexit which is also the reason the agenda was set out for two years rather than the usual one.

While brexit did take up the bulk, other areas were also covered. We have identified three different areas which may be of some interest to you regarding new changes to the legal sector including:

 

Family Law

Draft Domestic Violence and Abuse Bill

The Domestic Violence and Abuse Bill’s main purpose is to protect victims of domestic abuse. The bill has a few different elements to ensure this.

The main elements of the bill will be

  • To define what is meant by domestic abuse in order to create clarity for the courts and victims
  • A Domestic violence and Abuse Commissioner will be appointed and their role will be to
    • Stand up for the victims and survivors
    • Raise public awareness
    • Monitor the response of statutory agencies and local authorities
    • Hold the justice system to account in tackling domestic abuse
    • Ensure that if abusive behaviour involves a child, the court can hand down a sentence that reflects the devastating life-long impact that abuse can have on a child

 

Alison Kitchman, Partner & Head of Family Law

“It is a welcomed bill which will hopefully see zero tolerance of domestic abuse so that we can confidently help victims and protect them from future abuse.”

If you would like to know more information please visit our domestic abuse page.

 

Conveyance

Draft Tenants Fees Bill

This bill got introduced before the snap election and was expected to be upheld whatever the outcome as it was popular amongst most of the parties. The Tenants Fees Bill would remove the responsibility of paying letting agent fees from the tenants and be passed on the property owner. Buy-to–let property owners need to be aware of these changes and understand that it will be their responsibility to pay the fees once the bill becomes law.

Potential implications are that landlords pass the cost onto the tenants through increase of rent. The bill also states that renters will be able to recover any fees which were collected illegally. 

 

Mark Walton, Head of Conveyance

“The Tenants Fee bill is obviously good news if you are a renter, however if you are a landlord or are considering a buy-to-let property you need to be aware of any potential extra cost. You may want to take this into consideration while negotiating when buying the property or with incoming tenants rental agreement”

 

Dispute Resolution

The effect of the Civil Liability Bill on Personal Injury

Earlier this year we wrote a blog to inform people of the proposed amendments to the Personal Injury claims process. Within the Queens speech the reforms were referred to, but now as ‘The Civil Liability Bill.’

(Please seen the link above for the full break-down).

Here are some of the key points:

  • At present personal injury in excess of £1,000 allows for recovery of legal costs.  The proposals are to increase that to £2,000 for general personal injury and £5,000 for road traffic accident whiplash claims.
  • The Bill has been prepared with the intention of reducing the number of whiplash claims.

 

Emma Cornell, Head of Dispute Resolution

“Personal Injury claims seem to have a bad reputation.  Of course fraudulent claims need to be stopped, but the proposed reforms have to make sure that they are not at the expense of denying compensation to those who are genuinely injured through no fault of their own”

For more information or questions on any of the issues above please use our contact form and we’ll call you back.

Are you in breach of a restrictive covenant?

Are you in breach of a restrictive covenant?

You may have seen in the news recently that a Yorkshire development company is seeking payments of £100-£300 per household for consent after a covenant in their deeds was breached. The consent is required for such items as the erection of a shed or a satellite dish. The householders may have pay the developer as when they purchased their properties they promised not to erect any such items without obtaining the developers consent.

A restrictive covenant is often imposed on a property when it is sold by developers. The householders should have been made aware of this when they purchased.

What is a restrictive covenant?

A restrictive covenant is an agreement or promise which is included in the deeds and that limits what can be done on the property. An example of a restrictive covenant might be that no caravans can be stored at the front of the property or that no livestock can be kept on the property. The reason why they are often imposed by developers is to keep the estate looking presentable whilst the houses are being sold. Another reason for imposing a covenant might be to make sure that a property is only used for a particular use, such as residential use not commercial or it might limit the number of houses built on land.

Restrictive covenants may be imposed for a period of time, such as not to carry out any structural alterations during the first 5 years or they may be imposed for all time. This is why it is important to check your deeds and make sure you are aware of any that might bind your property.

The Legal Implications

While covenants are often ignored and as owners change are often forgotten about you may still be liable to abide by them. Some possible implications of this could be that you have to pay damages, or apply for retrospective consent or rectify any breach of the restrictive covenant which could have substantial cost implications.

What can you do?

Firstly, be aware. It is important you be made aware of any covenants when purchasing the property. A good solicitor will bring these to your attention when you purchase the property. It is always worth checking your deeds before commencing any substantive alterations or changing the use of your property.

Secondly, consider restrictive covenant indemnity insurance. If you become aware that there is a restrictive covenant which affects your property and that you may be in breach of, then we would recommend you put in place restrictive covenant indemnity insurance.  This is usually available for a one off premium and affords cover to you and future purchasers and your lenders. This will often be required if you do decide to sell or mortgage your property in any case.

Thirdly, seek help. If you are or may be in breach of a restrictive covenant or are unable to find suitable restrictive covenant indemnity insurance to cover any potential risk it would be wise to seek professional help to try and find a solution. This can include negotiating for the restrictive covenant to be removed. This is a complex area of law and we would recommend seeking help from a solicitor with experience in this area.

 

"It is important for all buyers to be aware of the do's and the don'ts in their title. This may have implications for them not only on a future sale or mortgage but when alterations are carried out. If you are unsure then we are more than happy to help." Alison Turner, Head of Commercial Property

Alison Turner brings an enviable wealth of experience and cool, calm professionalism to our Business Team. Having specialised in Commercial Property for more than 20 years, Alison’s level of expertise is hard to rival. 

 

 

 

 

About Taylor Bracewell

Taylor Bracewell operates from offices in Thorne Road and Ten Pound Walk in Doncaster and Fountain Precinct in Sheffield. Specialist areas are: Family Law, Business Law, Personal Law (including Wills, Probate, Trusts and Conveyancing), Dispute Resolution, HR & Employment Law, Charity Law.

You can contact us at hello@taylorbracewell.co.uk or call us on 01302 341 414 in Doncaster or 0114 272 1884 in Sheffield.

Landlords-Electrical-Safety-Checks-Housing-and-Planning-Act

Electrical Safety Standards Apply to Landlord Properties

Landlords have an obligation to ensure that electrical safety standards are met while letting a property to a tenant.

The Housing and Planning Act 2016 has received Royal Assent, and is now passing into law. One of the clauses in the Act relates to the electrical safety of properties that are let to tenants in the private rented sector.

In the future the Secretary of State will be able to pass regulations which place a positive obligation on Landlords to make sure that the properties that they let meet relevant electrical standards. This obligation covers both the electrical supply into and within the property, as well as any electrical fixtures or equipment that the Landlord supplies within the property.

Until the Secretary of State issues the regulations the details of what they will contain are unclear. The likelihood is that the Secretary of State will require testing rather than a simple declaration of safety by the Landlord; that any testing will need to be performed by a qualified electrician; and that the testing will be similar (if not identical) to the current Portable Appliance Testing (PAT). The tests might be required annually.

It is not yet clear if the standard set by the Secretary of State will simply aim to eliminate unsafe electrical installations or whether it will force Landlords to bring wiring up to the latest standards.

The Act has a very wide definition of ‘premises’ – it can include caravans and mobile homes as well as the more traditional residential properties.

What happens if the Landlord doesn’t comply? As well as a financial penalty, the local authority (with the Tenant’s consent) could enter the property to remedy any electrical safety failures, and they would presumably pass any costs on to the Landlord.

There is every possibility that when the Secretary of State issues the regulations there will be a surge of testing, and this could easily increase the cost of getting those tests done. If you are a Landlord the wise thing would be to get an electrician to check your wiring now and to get all appliances PAT tested – and after all, wouldn’t you want your properties to be as safe as possible anyway?

How can we help?

If you need help making sure that, as a Landlord, you comply with the relevant legislation then talk to us. We can also help you with your tenancy contracts and, if you get into a dispute, our specialist Dispute Resolution team can help find the most cost effective way to resolve the issue to your advantage.

About Taylor Bracewell

Taylor Bracewell operates from offices in Thorne Road and Ten Pound Walk in Doncaster and Fountain Precinct in Sheffield. Specialist areas are: Family Law, Business Law, Personal Law (including Wills, Probate, Trusts and Conveyancing), Dispute Resolution, HR & Employment Law, Charity Law.

You can contact us at hello@taylorbracewell.co.uk or call us on 01302 341 414 in Doncaster or 0114 272 1884 in Sheffield.

Tenant signing for keys from landlord; Planned Changes to Houses in Multiple Occupancy Licensing affects Buy-to-Let Landlords

Planned Changes to Houses in Multiple Occupancy Licensing

Tenant signing for keys from landlord; Planned Changes to Houses in Multiple Occupancy Licensing affects Buy-to-Let LandlordsThe government is consulting on changes to Houses in Multiple Occupancy Licensing which will bring more properties and landlords inside the scope of the law – and adding more penalties for landlords without a license.

In 2015 the Department for Communities and Local Government published a technical discussion paper for consultation on extensions to the licensing of HMOs (Houses in Multiple Occupancy) in England. They are trying to tighten up on HMOs by bringing more rental properties within the scope of the licensing requirements.

Some of the planned changes include:

  • Removing the rule about the number of stories for the building; this would mean that all houses with five or more people from two or more households come under the scheme.
  • Including flats that are either above or below a business premises, no matter how many stories the building has.
  • Setting a minimum standard for the space per person, based on the overcrowding standard in the Housing Act 1985. The minimum space will be 6.25 sq-m for one person or 10.23 sq-m for two people. Visitors don’t count, but children are treated as adults.

The government is also consulting on issues such as whether criminal record checks on the landlord be made mandatory in order to gain a licence, and if so, which body should they be made through; and whether there should be ‘adequate receptacles for the storage and processing of waste’.

The expected timescale for implementation following consultation was April 2017, though this has now been extended to October 2017 while the government processes responses.

It is expected that when it does come into force there will be a 6 month grace period for landlords who currently don’t have a licence, allowing them to apply for one. It’s important not to ignore this – buy-to-let home owners and landlords who don’t comply could face criminal prosecution and civil penalties up to £30,000.

The government say they are trying to build a country where everyone has a safe and secure home, and that they want to drive rogue landlords of business.

Of course, changes that improve living conditions should be welcomed by all. On the other hand, there is the potential for this to lead to a reduction in the amount of shared housing available on the market, putting more pressure on the rental sector.

 

How can we help?

We provide help and advice for landlords, and support them in their licensing applications. If you are a landlord, whether you have properties that need an HMO licence or not, why not get expert advice from us to make sure you are completely compliant with all required legislation.

 

About Taylor Bracewell

Taylor Bracewell operates from offices in Thorne Road and Ten Pound Walk in Doncaster and Fountain Precinct in Sheffield. Specialist areas are: Family Law, Business Law, Personal Law (including Wills, Probate, Trusts and Conveyancing), Dispute Resolution, HR & Employment Law, Charity Law.

You can contact us at hello@taylorbracewell.co.uk or call us on 01302 341 414 in Doncaster or 0114 272 1884 in Sheffield.

Alt = Government white paper to increase number of starter homes

Could This Be The End Of The Housing Crisis?

A white paper on housing sets out the details of how the government intends to stimulate the building of more affordable homes, and how it will help people to buy and rent.

Government white paper to increase number of starter homes

It’s well known that there are too few houses available, and that this shortage is part of what is driving house prices to sky high levels. The government recognises that around 250,000 new houses are needed every year, and is putting in place plans to fill this gap.

Of course, it’s not all about increasing the housing stock in the UK. Houses have to be affordable, and for those that can’t afford to buy there has to be easier and affordable ways to rent.

The government white paper sets out their strategy to deliver all this. It includes measures to:
• Increase the density of housing, getting more homes into less land, where space is at a premium
• Push councils into developing up-to-date plans to address the housing demand
• Bring down the time between a planning application and the granting of planning permission from a typical 3 years to 2 years
• Help for first time buyers saving their deposit using a lifetime ISA
• Help for smaller building firms so that they can compete with the more established building firms
• Removing the worst landlords or agents from the market
• Banning letting agents’ fees

A key element is the focus on starter homes. These are built for first time buyers who are expected to be between 23 and 40 years old, and aim to be valued at least 20% below market value.

The BBC news website helpfully illustrates just how many homes 250,000 amounts to – it’s the equivalent of building a Newcastle and Sunderland. Every year!

Of course, all the new homes won’t be built in one location. The government intends to promote house building where it is needed most, wants to get the market moving by allowing houses to be built faster, intends to diversify the housing market, and get help for people trying to buy or rent right now.

The white paper is out for consultation.

 

How can we help?

We can help with buying or selling your home, whether it is the first time or not, and can help with investing in buy-to-let properties. You want the whole process to go as smoothly as possible and that’s where we excel. We take the stress out of what is traditionally seen as one of the top three most stressful events in people’s lives! Talk to our expert conveyancing team.

 

About Taylor Bracewell

Taylor Bracewell operates from offices in Thorne Road and Railway Court in Doncaster and Fountain Precinct in Sheffield. Specialist areas are: Family Law, Business Law, Personal Law (including Wills, Probate, Trusts and Conveyancing), Dispute Resolution, HR & Employment Law, Charity Law.

You can contact us at hello@taylorbracewell.co.uk or call us on 01302 341 414 in Doncaster or 0114 272 1884 in Sheffield.

Latest news on house prices for first time buyers, and rise in number of first time buyers

The Housing Market Bounces Back

The Halifax released figures last week that shows the housing market is growing strongly again – more first-time buyers got onto the property ladder in 2016 than any time since 2007. However, it’s not all good news, the average deposit for a home is now £32,000.

 

Latest Housing Market Data

Latest news on house prices for first time buyers, and rise in number of first time buyersThe housing market tumbled in 2007 when the banking crisis hit the world. The number of first time buyers in 2016 is growing back to the pre-2008 records, with an estimated 335,750 people or couples buying their first home.

2007 was a big year with 359,900 first-time buyers, and 2006 was the all-time record with 402,800 purchases, so this is the highest number since then. The number in 2016 was 75% higher than the lowest point in the last decade, which was in 2009.

Prices for new homes are rising again. In London a typical first-time property is around £400,000, while across the rest of the UK it is over £200,000. Deposits have shot up too; in 2006 the deposit was £15,168 but it has more than doubled to £32,321 as banks and building societies continue to be cautious about lending. London is a very difficult market for the first-time buyer, who has to raise £100,000 deposit, never mind all the other costs associated with buying and moving.

 

First-Time Home Buyers

Unless there is a reversal of the current trends (perhaps Brexit or the Trump presidency might impact the economy) then the future looks like it will continue to get harder and harder for the fist-time home buyer. That means that anyone thinking of buying is in a Red Queen’s Race – as fast as they save their deposit, the average house price goes up and so does the size of the deposit required. If you are a first-time buyer and can get onto the property ladder then the best time to do so might be right now.

The Halifax has based this research on its own housing statistics database, figures from the Council of Mortgage Lenders, and the Office for National Statistics.

 

How can we help?

We can help with buying or selling your home, whether it is the first time or not, and can help with investing in buy-to-let properties. You want the whole process to go as smoothly as possible and that’s where we excel. We take the stress out of what is traditionally seen as one of the top three most stressful events in people’s lives! Talk to our expert conveyancing team.

 

About Taylor Bracewell

Taylor Bracewell operates from offices in Thorne Road and Ten Pound Walk in Doncaster and Fountain Precinct in Sheffield. Specialist areas are: Family Law, Business Law, Personal Law (including Wills, Probate, Trusts and Conveyancing), Dispute Resolution, HR & Employment Law, Charity Law.

You can contact us at hello@taylorbracewell.co.uk or call us on 01302 341 414 in Doncaster or 0114 272 1884 in Sheffield.

Tenant signing for keys

Landlords Need To Check Their Tenants

From 1st December 2016 landlords have a legal duty to check that their tenants can legally rent in England. This applies to new tenants, and the check can be done online.

Tenant signing for keys

As of 1st December 2016 landlords in England have a new duty. Whenever a new tenancy starts the landlord must check that all tenants aged 18 and over can legally rent their property – in other words, that the tenants are not illegally in the country. This has to be done for every tenant, it is against the law to only check people who the landlord thinks are not British.

Guidance is provided by the government, including who you must check, how to make a check, making a copy of the documents, what further checks might be needed if the tenant’s time in the UK is limited, and whether an agent or sub-letter can do the checks for you.

The government is clear about why it is doing this. It wants to make it more difficult for anyone without a right to be in the UK to rent private accommodation, and they want to crack down on rogue landlords and agents who exploit migrants and abuse the immigration system. The government wants to help landlords who are acting properly by making it easier to evict illegal migrant tenants.

The first part of this is very simple. If you are a landlord you must check everyone who is 18 or over who will be part of the rental agreement, even if they are not named in the agreement. This applies whether there is a tenancy agreement or not, and whether the agreement is in writing or not. Basically, whatever the circumstances, if a tenant is renting from you then you must do the checks on everyone who is 18 or over.

This does not mean that you cannot rent to someone who is not a UK citizen. It means you cannot rent to an adult who is disqualified because of their immigration status to occupy premises in England. If they are in the UK legally for a specific time period, and the tenancy is less than that time period, then you can still rent to them.

There are some exceptions to this requirement, such as social housing and care homes – check the government guidance to be certain.

When you do a check you must ask for the original documents, such as a biometric residence permit or a birth certificate with a council tax bill. You can confirm which documents are acceptable here. You need to confirm that the documents are genuine and belong to the tenant.

If the documents are satisfactory then you must make and keep copies of them. The copy needs to be something that can’t be changed, such as a photograph or photocopy, and you need to record the date you made the copies. For a passport you have to copy every page with the expiry date or tenant’s details, including endorsements, visa, work permits etc. If the documents have two sides, such as biometric residence permits, then you have to copy both sides.

If your tenant’s time in the UK is limited, then you must make further checks either 12 months after the previous check or just before the expiry date of the tenant’s time in the UK.

If you use an agent or you sub-let it is perfectly acceptable to get them to do the checks for you, but you need to get that agreement in writing. If a tenant sub-lets without you knowing, then they become liable for any civil penalties if they don’t do the checks correctly.

 

How can we help?

If you have a tenant problem, whether the issue is with regard to the legality of their stay in the UK or any other issue that arises, we can help you. If you want to be sure that you are undertaking the right checks in the right way, we would be happy to talk to you.

 

About Taylor Bracewell

Taylor Bracewell operates from offices in Thorne Road and Ten Pound Walk in Doncaster and Fountain Precinct in Sheffield. Specialist areas are: Family Law, Business Law, Personal Law (including Wills, Probate, Trusts and Conveyancing), Dispute Resolution, HR & Employment Law, Charity Law.

You can contact us at hello@taylorbracewell.co.uk or call us on 01302 341 414 in Doncaster or 0114 272 1884 in Sheffield.

Do you have a formal tenancy agreement?

1 in 10 private landlords in the UK have no formal tenancy agreement in place

Research carried out by Direct Line exposed worrying statistics about the lack of formal tenancy agreements in place.

Out of the contracts that are in place, 58% of landlords who do not use an agent used amended tenancy agreements from old contracts, 38% used contracts from other landlords and 20% used an updated template they found online.

Why do I need a formal tenancy agreement?

Having a formal tenancy agreement in place is not a legal requirement; however it is something that we would strongly advice. Having a document in place protects the interests of both the landlord and the tenant, setting out clear expectations for each party. It is also likely to help to minimise potential disputes occurring.

It is possible to have a verbal tenancy agreement in place, which would be construed as an Assured Shorthold Tenancy Agreement. These agreements can, however, be unreliable and can make things more difficult, should a dispute arise.

Tenant Deposit Protection Scheme

Another concerning statistic is that despite the fact it’s a legal requirement to do so, 9% of landlords have failed to make their tenants aware that their deposit is held in a government-backed tenancy deposit protection scheme (TDP). Landlords should provide their tenant with the name and contact details of the TDP and its dispute resolution service within 30 days of taking the deposit. 4% of landlords have not taken any deposit from their tenants.

How can we help?

If you require advice about renting out your property, including drawing up tenancy agreements, contact Alison Turner in Doncaster on 01302 965 251 or alison.t@taylorbracewell.co.uk.

About Taylor Bracewell

Taylor Bracewell operates from offices in Thorne Road and Ten Pound Walk in Doncaster and Fountain Precinct in Sheffield. Specialist areas are: Family Law, Business Law, Personal Law (including Wills, Probate, Trusts and Conveyancing), Dispute Resolution, HR & Employment Law.

You can contact us at hello@taylorbracewell.co.uk or call us on 01302 341 414 in Doncaster or 0114 272 1884 in Sheffield.

Good news for first time buyers

Home Lending at the highest level since 2007

The latest figures released by E.surv Mortgage Monitor revealed that in the first quarter of 2016, home lending was at the highest level since 2007. 210,468 house purchases were recorded.

There has been an annual rise of 19.3% from 9,625 loans granted in March 2015 to 11,487 granted in March this year.

The buy-to let-surge is expected to subside following the stamp duty changes, which took effect on the 1st April 2016. This has been beneficial for first time buyers who have been filling the gaps left behind.

The latest First Time Buyer Tracker by Your Move and Reeds Rains showed that, in February 2016, purchases made by first time buyers were up 6.6% to 21,100 compared to 19,800 in February 2015.

This trend is expected to continue as schemes such as the Help to Buy ISA make saving for a deposit easier.

Richard Sexton, E.surv director commented Lenders are keen to invest in first-timers and, with a variety of rates and options available, there’s a raft of choices out there.

How can we help?

Our experienced specialist team of ‘Law Society Conveyancing Quality Scheme’ accredited conveyancing lawyers in Sheffield and Doncaster have expert local knowledge to help you with your property purchase or sale.

If you require advice about buying or selling property, contact Head of Conveyancing, Mark Walton on 01302 341 414. You can also e-mail our Conveyancing team at personal@taylorbracewell.co.uk.

About Taylor Bracewell

Taylor Bracewell operates from offices in Thorne Road and Ten Pound Walk in Doncaster and Fountain Precinct in Sheffield. Specialist areas are: Family Law, Business Law, Personal Law (including Wills, Probate, Trusts and Conveyancing), Dispute Resolution, HR & Employment Law.

You can contact us at hello@taylorbracewell.co.uk or call us on 01302 341 414 in Doncaster or 0114 272 1884 in Sheffield.

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A busy month for the Conveyancing Department

43% Increase in number of residential property purchases

31st March 2016 was one of the busiest days of the year for the Conveyancing department at Taylor Bracewell. This trend was reflected throughout the property industry with most companies recording increases.

Staff worked around the clock to ensure as many clients as possible completed before the 1st April to beat the stamp duty tax increase.

Our figures show a 43% Increase in the number of residential property purchases in March 2016 when compared with last years figures.

The majority of these purchases are likely to have been made by buy-to-let investors and those purchasing second homes, as they face the biggest increase in stamp duty.

How can we help?

If you are thinking of investing in property, contact Vicky Woodhouse in Sheffield on 0114 390 0092 or email vicky@taylorbracewell.co.uk for simple, practical advice and support. Alternatively contact Alison Turner in Doncaster on 01302 965 251 or email alison.t@taylorbracewell.co.uk.

About Taylor Bracewell.

Taylor Bracewell operates from offices in Thorne Road and Ten Pound Walk in Doncaster and Fountain Precinct in Sheffield. Specialist areas are: Family Law, Business Law, Personal Law (including Wills, Probate, Trusts and Conveyancing), Dispute Resolution, HR & Employment Law.

You can contact us at hello@taylorbracewell.co.uk or call us on 01302 341 414 in Doncaster or 0114 272 1884 in Sheffield.

55% of UK home owners expect the EU vote to have an impact on property prices

Home owners expect that the value of their home would increase if Britain left the EU

A recent survey by eMoov asked homeowners their thoughts on how the EU referendum will affect property prices. It revealed that over half of UK home owners believe that leaving the EU will affect house prices. 34% expect that leaving the EU would increase the value of their home, with the other 21% believing the value of their property will decrease if we leave.

It is expected that London will see the biggest economic changes if the decision is made to leave, with 52% of those surveyed in London expecting an increase in property prices and 23% expecting prices to fall.

The property market has seen benefits from joining the EU and the average house price has increased by over 2000% since 1973. Based on these figures, EU membership has been worthwhile, but Britain’s future will remain uncertain.

A date has not yet been set for the referendum, however Prime Minister David Cameron assures us a decision will be made before the end of 2017. He hopes to remain in the EU but his decision will depend on further negotiations.

Can we help you?

Our experienced specialist team of ‘Law Society Conveyancing Quality Scheme’ accredited conveyancing lawyers in Sheffield and Doncaster have expert local knowledge to help you with your property purchase or sale.

If you require advice about buying or selling property, contact Vicky Woodhouse in Sheffield vicky@taylorbracewell.co.uk or on 0114 272 1884 or our Doncaster conveyancing team on 01302 341 414.

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Relief for Landlords – Rent in advance not a deposit

The Court of Appeal has ruled in the case of Johnson v Old [2013] EWCA Civ 415 and Landlords can now breathe a sigh of relief.

When a tenant fails a credit check, landlords often ask for payment of rent in advance. The original decision in Johnson v Old meant that any Landlord taking rent in advance would have to treat the advance as a deposit. Failure to protect the deposit in a government backed deposit protection scheme could have serious impacts for the Landlord.

The Landlord, amongst other penalties, would not be able to rely on a s21 notice until the deposit had been returned to the tenant in full or less any agreed deductions. Essentially, the Landlord would have to give back the six months rent that they had taken in advance.

Fortunately for Landlords, the Court of Appeal has ruled that money paid in order to discharge a current liability (rent), is not paid with the intention to hold as security (a deposit) and is therefore not required to be protected.

The main reason for this decision is that the tenant in this case had not been asked for further payment of rent within the first 6 months following the payment in advance. Had rent been demanded within that 6 month period, it would likely render the advanced payment as a deposit.

The Court also considered the drafting of the tenancy agreement. A clearly drafted tenancy agreement, indicating that the rent paid in advance is paid to discharge a current liability and not to be held as a security, will avoid any ambiguity and make life for the Landlord much easier.

One potential issue for Landlords in taking rent in advance, is the length of the notice period that is served once the fixed term of the tenancy has expired.

Feel free to contact me on 01302 640386 to discuss any injury that you might have suffered. You could also email me at kieron@taylorbracewell.co.uk

Growth in the number of First Time Buyers

An increase in first time buyers in the UK has resulted in a degree of optimism for the residential property market for 2013. In addition to this, Mortgage brokers in the UK have also become increasingly confident about the overall outlook for the lending market this year.

It found that 75% percent of brokers were encouraged and more confident about the mortgage market coming into the New Year, an increase of 6% compared with the previous quarter.

“It is encouraging to see increasing confidence in the sector over the last quarter. Whilst the economic outlook remains challenging, we are seeing a slight easing of funding pressures, leading to an increasing number of lenders reducing rates and launching new products to the market, providing further optimism,” said Ian Wilson, head of Halifax Intermediaries.

First time buyers were central to the strong overall growth seen in January, making up one third of the total valuations market for the first time since June. Valuations on behalf of first time buyers grew by 24% from December. In a fifth month of annual growth, there were 40% more new buyers than in January 2012.

A combination of strong buyer demand and improving competition among lenders at the bottom of the market has been central to progress and encourages more first time buyers.

The current mortgage market is also an increasingly friendly place with it offering low rates; therefore the property market is on the rise and will hopefully continue to battle its way through this economic downturn.

For further information on this or any issue relating to residential property law, please contact Peter Caswell on 01302 640410 or email peter@taylorbracewell.co.uk

First time buyers to receive help to buy new build homes!

The government has introduced a new scheme, “Firstbuy”, to help first time buyers purchase new build homes, whereby £250 million is to be available to help first time buyers meet the deposit requirements set down by the main mortgage lenders.

It is intended that over the next two years “FirstBuy” will help 10,000 prospective first time buyers purchase new build homes. House builders will match the government’s contribution to the scheme, which will provide a 20 per cent equity loan to top up first time buyers own deposit of 5 per cent, enabling buyers to take out a mortgage for 75 per cent of the property.

Loans will be free of charge for the first five years and repaid on resale of the property, with the funds recycled to fund more homes using the scheme The first homes are expected to come on stream in September 2011.

Empty property relief to be cut!

The EPBR is a rate which is charged by the local authority on any commercial property which has been vacant for more than three months.

The current situation

Currently an empty commercial property with a rateable value of less than £18,000 is exempt from EPBR.

The situation from April 2011

The local government minister Bob Neill, has announced that the threshold will be cut from £18,000 to £2,600.00.

What does this mean to you?

In some ways this is good news for commercial tenants as the increase in rates which landlords will have to pay may force them to take action to ensure their properties are full, which may mean tenants will benefit from lower rents.

On the other hand the cut will have a severe impact on the property owners who will find themselves paying EPBR on properties which were previously exempt. It is expected that small businesses will suffer the most especially since the 50% relief will not be re-introduced and small firms will no longer be able to claim “Small Business Rate Relief”.

Roger Culcheth, chairman of local government policy, at the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) said:-

The result of this cut in the threshold, without restoring the 50% relief, will make small business owners worse off than they were prior to the 2009 change and significantly more so than they were in 2009 and 2010. We urge the Government to look closely at this matter and, at the very least, allow the businesses to claim “Small Business Rate Relief”.

The FSB has written to local government minister, Bob Neill to express its concerns.