Property Law - recent news
For further help or information regarding the articles below, please contact Steven Quy sq@gross.REMOVE-THIS-BARRIER-BEFORE-SENDING.co.uk
- Property law – Plan ahead
- Quality Conveyancing
- The Government’s latest project … “The Green Deal”
- CO-OWNERSHIP OF PROPERTY
- BUILDING ON OR NEAR YOUR PROPERTY’S BOUNDARY
- PROTECTING YOUR PROPERTY FROM FRAUDSTERS
- PLANNING PERMISSION - A SUMMARY
- IS YOUR PROPERTY REGISTERED AT THE LAND REGISTRY?
- LANDLORD'S OBLIGATIONS WHEN LETTING RESIDENTIAL PROPERTY
This is required for a change of use of agricultural land, paddocks or orchards to residential garden land. Many Councils make a general presumption against such a change, where the land is green belt. An application for change of use will be necessary.
Paving your front garden
Following the widespread flooding in 2007, new regulations were introduced as surface water run-off was cited as the cause of flooding in two-thirds of the 55,000 homes affected. If the surface of a new drive or replacement driveway is more than 5 square metre, planning permission will be required if it is a traditional impermeable drive that does not provide for surface water to run to a soak-away or be absorbed into the drive itself.
Energy Performance Certificates – Changes
From 9 January 2013, sellers/landlords must ensure that an EPC has been commissioned before a commercial property can be marketed. Sales particulars and all advertisements must include details of some data from the EPC itself. EPCs must be made available to all prospective tenants before they enter into a lease. When the let is finalised, the EPC must be given free of charge to the new tenant. The penalty for non-compliance is £200 (for a dwelling); for non dwellings £500 and upward. A penalty per non-compliant advertisement can also result. There are exemptions, but they are few.
Together with other extensions, outbuildings etc the decking or platforms must cover no more than 50% of the garden area. Otherwise planning permission will be needed and probably building regulation consent as well. There can be potentially very costly repercussions for falling foul of these requirements/rules. If in doubt, seek legal advice.
Conveyancing Manager sq@gross.REMOVE-THIS-BARRIER-BEFORE-SENDING.co.uk
CQS - Conveyancing Quality Scheme. The most recognized and respected quality kite mark for lawyers handling buying and selling of property, given the stamp of approval by some of the UK’s biggest mortgage lenders.
All CQS kite mark firms go through rigorous tests annually to ensure they possess the knowledge, skills, experience and volume of cases to merit the kite mark as an indication of their day-to-day hands-on ability.
The major mortgage lenders like HSBC, Santander, Clydesdale and Yorkshire Bank just to name a few, were the first to recognize the CQS mark as one to be trusted. Without it, they will not commit mortgage funds to the solicitor handling the purchase.
The firms who are CQS approved have been accredited as a result of illustrating their adherence to good practice management, consistency in standards and compliance with strict rules and procedures.
So what does it mean to you as a client?
The leading mortgage lenders out there are working towards only working with solicitors who wear the CQS badge. We are proud to say we have been wearing the CQS badge for some time, and we now form part of an elite group championed by The Law Society as ambassadors for a new standard in the home buying and selling process.
Be one step ahead in knowing what to look for with any conveyancing transaction. Should you be planning that move or just wish for some further advice do not hesitate to contact; Louise Godfrey, Licensed Conveyancer. email@example.com or telephone on 01284 763333
The Energy Act 2011 received the Royal Assent on 18th October 2011. It comes into effect in full in October 2012.
What is the Act about? It provides a step change in the provision of energy efficiency measures in homes and businesses. The Act represents the government’s aspiration to solve the current lack of investment in energy saving measures in homes and non-domestic buildings, resulting in many properties achieving poor energy efficiency ratings.
What impact will this have on the housing market?
The plan is to prevent the sale or letting of properties that fall within bands F or G. Initial views, including my own, is that this is a very risky move and could be detrimental to anyone out there thinking of moving home. However; this is where “The Green Deal” can claim the spotlight.
The Green Deal will include a financial framework which enables energy saving measures to be paid for in instalments, via energy bills; giving property owners a route out should their property not reach assessment levels.
How it will work?
The core principle is “The Golden Rule”, meaning; the instalment payments for the energy saving measures should not exceed the projected associated cost savings on an average bill for the duration of the Green Deal Finance arrangement. That could be as long as 25 years.
These loans are not to be secured charges on the home, and remain with the property. Essentially this means that if a property is sold with Green Deal Finance attached, the new purchaser will then become responsible for the upkeep of payments. Hopefully, the “The Green Deal” will ensure that the burden of the new legislation is at least manageable, and will aid the property market to stay buoyant. Provisions in the Act include powers to ensure that from April 2018, it will be unlawful to rent out residential or business premises which do not reach a minimum energy efficiency standard. (The expectation being EPC rating 'E'). This extension to the letting market aims to provide greater protection for tenants. Landlords will have no option but to ensure their property is energy efficient. If you believe that you could be affected by the Act or need further information, please contact me.
Louise Godfrey lg@gross.REMOVE-THIS-BARRIER-BEFORE-SENDING.co.uk
What happens if….?
The purchase of residential property is perhaps the single most important financial transaction most people make in their lifetime. Great care must be taken over such transactions and co-habiting partners must give careful consideration to what will happen to their respective interests in the property and address the unthinkable; what happens if the relationship breaks down and they fall out over what they do and not do not own?
These are some of the issues that need to be considered:
- Do unequal contributions to the purchase price mean unequal shares
- Who is responsible for the mortgage payments and other outgoings
- Who is responsible for repair, maintenance and insurance
- What happens if there is a change in contributions in the short or long term
- How can the joint ownership trust be brought to an end
- What happens if one of the co-owners stops living at the property before it is sold
- Should there be a right for one party to buy out the other’s share and is so what procedures are to be used and how will the market value be calculated
- Should one party be entitled to a greater call on the proceeds of sale reflecting their greater contribution
- What happens if the property declines in value and falls into negative equity
These matters can be best dealt with by entering into a Deed of Co-ownership. Parents might have something similar drawn up if they are providing funds for their child to purchase a property for example.
If you wish to build on or near the boundary of your property you may have to follow the procedures set out in the Party Wall Act 1996 which came into force on 1st July 1997.
The Act provides a framework for preventing and resolving disputes in relation to party walls, boundary walls and excavations near neighbouring buildings. Anyone intending to carry out work of the kinds described in the Act must give notice to Adjoining Owners even where work to an existing party wall will not extend beyond the centre line of the boundary.
A wall is a “party wall” if it stands astride the boundary of land belonging to two or more different owners and is either part of one building, separates two or more buildings or is a “party fence wall” being a wall that does not form part of a building but stands astride the boundary line between land belonging to different owners such as a garden wall.
The Act covers three situations:
- Various work (such as demolishing or rebuilding a party wall or inserting a damp proof course all the way through the wall) to be carried out directly to an existing party wall or structure.
- New building at or astride the boundary line between properties.
- Excavation within 3 to 6 metres of a neighbouring building or structure depending on the depth of the hole or proposed foundations.
The Land Registry has recently launched a campaign to help protect homeowners who are most at risk from property fraud, where the title to the property is registered at the Land Registry.
Fraudsters often target properties on which there is no mortgage, and where the owner lives elsewhere. They attempt to acquire ownership of a property by using a forged document to transfer title into their own name, or by impersonating the true owner. The groups most at risk are those who do not live in their own home (such as elderly persons living in residential care), homeowners living abroad and buy-to-let landlords. The Land Registry has said that one way to stop fraudsters is for homeowners to ensure that their contact details are up to date.
You can find out more information on how to do this by visiting the Land Registry’s website at: www.landreg.gov.uk/propertyfraud or contact our Conveyancing Department and we will be happy to assist.
Since the recession hit the property market, many home owners have decided to stay put and extend/improve their homes rather than moving. VAT will return to 17.5% at the end of 2009, and many home owners are taking the opportunity to undertake home improvements now, while VAT holds at 15%. Bear the following in mind when considering home improvements:
Front gardens and drives
Planning Permission is necessary for hard-surfacing of more than 5 metres of domestic front gardens/driveways, unless the surface to be laid is permeable and all surface water is kept within the home owner's property.v
Roofs and Loft Conversions
Providing roof alterations and loft conversions are not undertaken in conservation areas or areas of outstanding natural beauty and providing they meet strict size/volume regulations, these home improvements do not need planning consent.
Extensions and Additions
As with roof and loft conversions, providing strict guidelines concerning size are adhered to, planning consent is not necessary.
Regardless of whether or not you need Planning Permission or Building Regulations Approval, all home owners should check their Title Deeds carefully, to see whether any alteration or additions to the property may be in breach of a covenant on the legal title, and particularly whether they require a previous owner's written consent before work can begin. This is commonly overlooked by home owners, and it can cause additional expense and delay when a property comes to be sold, because retrospective consent has to be obtained from the former owner.
If you have owned property or land for many years, it is quite possible that the title to your property/land is not registered with the Land Registry. Whenever a property or land is sold or has a mortgage registered secured against the Title, the property automatically becomes registered land. If you are not intending to sell your property/land in the foreseeable future and have not done so for some years, you may like to consider the benefits of voluntarily registering the Title to your property/properties. There are many benefits to registration, some of which are:
1. Reduces risk – lost deeds or encroachment on land by neighbouring property owners.
2. Improved efficiency – the title can be viewed securely and quickly online.
3. Time and resource saving – voluntary registration makes property transactions faster and easier.
4. Easier to prove title – especially important for large portfolios for landlords or for farm land.
5. Improved asset management – registration consolidates complex legal information or historic data about land holdings.
6. Protection – registration gives greater security of title, providing better protection against claims like adverse possession (prescriptive rights).
Only 66% of property in England and Wales is registered at the Land Registry. Voluntarily registering a property is a straightforward process, and the Land Registry reduces the fee payable by 25% when you voluntarily register.
Although you may have no plans to sell your land or property at this time, taking the opportunity to voluntarily register it now has financial benefits. In the long term, when you do come to sell your property, the benefit of having a registered Title, weighed against the disadvantages of having to prove an unregistered title, will become readily apparent.
A registered Title proves you own your land. It protects you against claims on your land if someone were to try to encroach on it and is the most effective way to bring all your documentation up to date. It also gives you the added bonus that your title register is easily accessible online.
It has become very popular to invest money in buy to let property.
Many obligations are placed on the property owner to ensure that tenants live in a safe environment.
Tenancy Deposit Scheme
Since 6.4.2007 landlords are required to pay tenancy deposits into one of two schemes: a custodial scheme where the deposit is paid into a designated account held by the scheme administrator, or an insurance backed scheme, where the landlord retains the deposit but takes out an insurance policy to protect the tenant's deposit. This is in order to safeguard deposits for the tenant and facilitate the resolution of disputes arising in connection with deposits. If the landlord does not comply with these requirements he loses the ability to obtain possession of the property on two months notice under Section 21 of the Housing Act 1988, and can be ordered by the Court to pay back an amount equivalent to three times the deposit
Landlords are under a duty to ensure that the tenants of their property are living in a safe environment and there are obligations regarding gas and electrical equipment and furnishings. Failure to comply can result in fines of up to £5000 and/or custodial sentences where death or injury to a tenant occurs. For example, Landlords are required to have safety checks carried out on all gas equipment every twelve months.
Energy Performance Certificates
Energy Performance Certificates were introduced last year as part of the Home Information pack regulations. From 1st October 2008 landlords will be required to supply them to all prospective tenants, although there is no obligation to carry out any of the energy saving measures recommend in the certificate. The certificates will be valid for 10 years. Failure to comply can result in a £200 fine through the Trading Standards Authority.