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Is your property energy efficient?

For most residential lettings, a Landlord has to have an Energy Performance Certificate (“EPC”) before they let a property.  As part of the government’s strive for energy efficiency, with effect from 1 April 2018, a Landlord should not grant a new tenancy/lease if the property has an EPC rating below E.  This is according to Part Three of The Energy Efficiency (Private Rented Property) (England and Wales) Regulations 2015, known as the MEES Regulations.

From 1 April 2020, the MEES Regulations apply to existing tenancies of domestic properties (usually granted prior to 1 April 2018) and from 1 April 2023 to commercial properties.

This article gives an overview of the Regulations and will focus on domestic private rented properties.  Broadly, this term covers ordinary lettings of properties by a private landlord.

What to do if your property has an EPC rating of less than E?   energy-efficiency-154006_960_720

  • A Landlord should check the MEES Regulations apply to the property and the type of tenancy.
  • A Landlord should carry out “relevant energy efficiency improvements” (for the meaning of which see below) to bring the EPC rating above the minimum threshold, unless an exemption to the MEES Regulations (as set out in the PRS Exemptions Register) applies.

The exemptions are:-

  • No funding exemption – If the costs of purchasing and installing the “relevant energy efficiency improvements” cannot be financed at no cost to the Landlord.
  • The consent exemption – A Tenant or other third party refuses to give consent to the relevant works being carried out to increase the energy efficiency or the Tenant refuses to give Consent to Green Deal funding.
  • The devaluation exemption – A Landlord has obtained a report from a Surveyor, which shows that the works to improve the energy efficiency would result in a reduction of more than five per cent in the value of the property.
  • Temporary exemption – In some situations, a Landlord (usually if the Landlord has recently acquired the property) may be given six months to comply with the prohibition on letting and carry out the relevant energy efficiency improvements.
  • Wall insulation exemption – If a Landlord has obtained written expert advice that cavity wall insulation, external wall insulation or internal wall insulation is not appropriate due to its negative impact on the structure of the property.
  • Although not classified as an exemption, if all relevant energy efficiency improvement works have been carried out but the property still has an EPC rating of lower than E, it may be let and the Landlord has up to five years to grant new lettings or continue existing lettings.

For all exemptions, the Landlord must register the property and his/her details on the PRS Exemptions Register.  The exemption is to be registered before it can be relied upon.

A relevant energy efficient improvement is a list of recommendations (often detailed on the EPC or a Surveyor’s report) and the impact they will have.  If such works are required, they must be one of the following:-

  • A measure to improve efficiency in the use of energy in the property and;
  • Identified as an improvement for the property in question.
  • Can also include installation of a service pipe for the supply of gas, if the property is not fuelled by mains gas and is situated 23 metres from the main of a gas transporter.

If a Landlord does not carry out the energy efficiency improvements and does not register the property on the PRS Exemptions Register, or puts false or mis-leading information on the PRS Exemptions register, a Landlord is likely to face enforcement action. This could mean a fine, depending on the type of breach up to £5,000 per breach for each property and/or publication of a notice detailing the non-compliant property, details of the breach of the MEES Regulations, the financial penalty (if any) and the Landlord’s details but not if the Landlord is an individual.

UPDATE

On 5 November 2018, following  a consultation, the Government confirmed that new Regulations will shortly be put before Parliament.  These will apply on the grant of a new tenancy to a new tenant or an existing tenant.  These Regulations will remove the “no cost to Landlord” principle and:-

  • Introduce a Landlord contribution towards any works required to improve energy efficiency capped at £3,500 including VAT.  Any energy efficiency measures undertaken since October 2017, will be included within the £3,500 cap, as will any available third party funding
  • There will be a new “high cost” exemption if the EPC grading of E of a property cannot be achieved for £3,500 or less.  Landlords will have to obtain three quotes, to enable registration of this exemption on the PRS Register
  • The “consent exemption” referred to above will be removed where a tenant has withheld consent to a Green Deal finance plan.

For advice and guidance on these issues or other Landlord/Tenant issues contact our litigation team.

Posted in Commercial Litigation, Property Development, Residential Property | Comments closed

Stroke Association

Alison Brown, who works in our Commercial Department here at North Ainley Solicitors, has now successfully completed all sections of her training to become an Ambassador for the Stroke Association.

Having experienced a trauma stroke herself in February 2017 after which she could not walk or lift her head, Alison now strives to help people to ‘put the word out’ to raise awareness regarding stroke prevention.  With her knowledge of ‘life after stroke’ recovery, Alison seeks to raise awareness with young doctors, GPs and ambulance staff regarding the effects of a stroke on younger people, and also raise funds for the Stroke Association to help them carry on providing their excellent services.

Alison understands the strains a stroke can have on relationships, friends or close family and how this can affect people’s future plans.  Her first hand knowledge helps her to appreciate the effort people have to go through and sympathise with the difficulties.

As an involved Ambassador, Alison gives talks to companies and organisations who have kindly chosen the Stroke Association as their ‘charity of the year’.  She has also been asked to present a ‘fundraiser of the year’ award at The Well Pharmacy annual dinner which was held last nigh at the Imperial War Museum North, an invitation which she was both pleased and honoured to accept.strokeAssocLogo-20180830120222642

Next year, Alison is taking on the challenge of the 10K Resolution Run for the Stroke Association.  Last year she walked the 5K route but is hoping to run the full distance next time around.  This is another goal and step for her to achieve in her recovery and her determination is clear to see.

We would like to congratulate Alison on behalf of North Ainley for her dedication to such a good cause.  If you would like to donate to Alison’s 10k, her Just Giving Page is: https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/alison-brown77

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National Work Life Week

It’s ‘National Work Life Week’ – an opportunity to focus on well-being at work and work-life balance.National work life week

Any employee with 26 weeks service for the same employer has a legal right to make a request to work flexibly – you don’t have to be a parent or carer.  If your request has been refused you may be able to do something about it.

Call our Employment team to book an appointment for further information and advice.

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Macmillan Coffee Morning

Our coffee morning in support of Macmillan Cancer went down a treat today. Coffee Morning Thanks to all those who slaved in the kitchen and all those who visited our office.

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Professionals Quiz Night

A respectable 3rd place for Ainley’s Aces who took part at the ‘Professionals Quiz Night’ hosted by Handelsbanken Oldham at Saddleworth Golf Club last night.

A great night in support of Oldham Action Fund.

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Important tips for Landlord’s on granting or ending an Assured Shorthold Tenancy (‘AST’)

Since 1 October 2015, under the Deregulation Act 2015, a Landlord offering a new Assured Shorthold Tenancy agreement to a tenant must ensure that the tenant is provided with :-

  • A Gas Safety Certificate for the property to be occupied
  • An Energy Performance Certificate
  • The booklet entitled – How to rent: the checklist for renting in England

With effect from 1 October 2018, the above requirements will apply to all tenancies, even those in existence prior to 1 October 2015.

It has also been the case for some time that if a deposit is paid by the Tenant, the Landlord must ensure that:-

  • The deposit is being held in accordance with an authorised Tenancy Deposit Scheme and;
  • the Tenant has received the information about the Tenancy Deposit Scheme within 30 days of the Deposit being received.  Failure to provide such information means that the Tenant has a claim against the Landlord of up to three times the amount of the Deposit.

It is important that a Landlord complies with the above points as this could impede a Landlord’s right to obtain possession of their property at the end of the term of the tenancy.  It is common for Landlords to serve a Section 21 Notice upon the Tenant, if the Tenant does not vacate at the end of the term.  Non-compliance with the requirements set out above will mean a Landlord cannot serve a Section 21 notice, although steps may be taken to rectify the situation and enable service of a Notice.  Alternatively, a Landlord may be able to serve a Section 8 Notice.

A Landlord is further prevented from serving a Section 21 notice:-

  • Within the first four months of the tenancy and must issue any possession proceedings within six months of the date of the Section 21 Notice.
  • If a local housing authority has served notice upon the Landlord about the condition of the property.

With effect from 1 October 2015  for any tenancies granted after that date (and 1 October 2018 for any other tenancies) Landlords must serve upon the Tenants the prescribed form of the Section 21 notice, otherwise, the Section 21 notice will be deemed ineffective.

For further information on granting a new tenancy please contact our Commercial Property team or for advice on serving a Notice to end a tenancy, please contact a member of our Dispute Resolution team.  Both departments can work together to provide overall comprehensive advice to suit your individual or business needs.

Posted in Commercial & Corporate, Legal Briefs, Litigation Disputes | Comments closed

Dementia Awarness

Delighted to report that all North Ainley staff have become ‘Dementia Friends’ today, joining the UK’s biggest ever initiative to change the way the nation thinks, acts and talks about dementia.  Engaging and informative session by @MakingSpaceUK

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For more information visit www.dementiafriends.org.uk

Posted in North Ainley News, Private Client | Comments closed

Helping Society Grow

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North Ainley value the importance of supporting young people, schools and colleges.

One of our Solicitors, Laura Campbell, will be starting her role as an #EnterpriseAdviser with a local school today – we are proud to be part of www.bridgegm.co.uk

 

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Mahdlo – Queens Award

John Ainley receiving his certificate from the Youth Zone’s president, Sir Norman Stoller

The hard work and dedication of the volunteers who have supported the Mahdlo Charity, which was opened in Oldham six years ago, has been recognised with the prestigious Queens Award for Voluntary Service. The formal presentation of the Award took place at the Monastery in Manchester and was followed by the presentation of Certificates and Badges at Mahdlo on Tuesday by the President of the Oldham Youth Zone, Sir Norman Stoller.

Our Senior Partner, John Ainley, was one of the volunteers honoured at the event. He said ‘I was really surprised and touched to be recognised in this way. I have been on the Board of Mahdlo since it was planned and have been only too happy to make a contribution to such a fantastic organisation in Oldham for young people. To think we have a £5 million facility in the centre of Oldham that provides world class opportunities for local youngsters, is something that we should all be extremely proud of ‘.

North Ainley look forward to supporting Mahdlo at future events.

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BREAKING NEWS – SUPREME COURT REFUSE RIGHT TO DIVORCE

The Supreme Court has today ruled that Tini Owens cannot divorce her husband, Hugh Owens of 40 years until 2020, when they will have been separated for 5 years.  This is because of the manner in which the Matrimonial Causes Act 1973 (which provides the basis of a divorce) is drafted and because Hugh Owens refuses to agree to a divorce.   The couple have been separated since 2015.

Judgement

This case and others have prompted a campaign for a change in the law to allow couples to divorce without a finding of fault on either party to the marriage.  Until the law is changed, it remains necessary for a party who wants to divorce their spouse to prove that the marriage has broken down irretrievably relying on one of  the 5 facts out in the Matrimonial Causes Act 1973.

For expert help and guidance on any aspect of relationship breakdown, contact the Family team at North Ainley Solicitors.

Posted in Family, Legal Briefs | Comments closed

Should we end the blame game of divorce?

Under current English law, even if both parties agree that their marriage has broken down, unless and until they have been separated for 2 years, they cannot get divorced without one party being blamed.

The reasons for the breakdown of a marriage are usually complex and it is not uncommon for both parties to have quite different views regarding the cause of the difficulties that have arisen. When emotions are already running high, the law, which requires reliance upon either adultery or unreasonable behaviour (unless parties are willing to wait 2 years) is only likely to add fuel to the fire.

Forcing couples to blame each other when there is no real need to do so, can create unnecessary conflict which can in turn affect how the couple deal with the related arrangements that must be made in respect of any children and regarding financial matters.Resolution Standard

Resolution, an organisation of 6,500 family lawyers and other professionals who believe in a constructive and non-confrontational approach to family law matters, is currently campaigning for a change in the law that would allow couples to divorce without blame.

The need for reform has to a great extent been highlighted by the recent case of Owens v Owens in which a wife has been denied a divorce because the Court determined that her husband’s behaviour was insufficient to justify the granting of a divorce decree.  A decision of the Supreme Court is still awaited and will turn upon the interpretation of the relevant section of the Matrimonial Causes Act 1973. Whatever the outcome, the case highlights the need for change.

Resolution are proposing a new “no fault” process allowing one or both parties to give notice that the marriage has broken down irretrievably.  The divorce can then be progressed and if after a period of 6 months , either or both remain of the view that the marriage is over, the divorce can be finalised without any blame being assigned to either party.

Our family team at North Ainley are accredited Resolution members and can advise and assist you with divorce proceedings and all other issues that can arise following the breakdown of a relationship.

 

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THREE PEAKS FOR MAHDLO!

On Saturday 7 July 2018, Team North Ainley took on the ‘Saddleworth Three Peaks Challenge’ – organised by registered charity Mahdlo Youth Zone, to raise money for its state of the art facility in the heart of Oldham.

3 peak - Team NA Photo

As the day approached and the heat wave showed no signs of subsiding, extra sunscreen, sunhats, ice-packs and lightweight everything was panic bought and we wondered whether it would be deemed too hot for the event to go ahead.  We then heard that as one of the peaks (Indian’s Head) was off limits due to the moor fires it would be replaced with a mystery ‘peak’ on the day….the fear of the unknown set in!

On the day, we all arrived bright and breezy at the starting point (Royal George in Mossley) to find the sun still had its hat on and that we were technically climbing 4 peaks (thanks for that Mahdlo/Chris Wareing!).  The route included Dovestones, Pots and Pans, Alderman’s Hill, a particularly gruelling section up Lark Hill from Dobcross, along the Delph Donkey Trail and a final push up Wharmton Hill.  The sun beamed down all day and our feet nearly gave up but we were rewarded with amazing views and a fantastic sense of camaraderie between the 90 walkers who took part.  That said, the hills were no match for our very own Laura Brennan who was first back having completed the route in just over 5 hours!!

Congratulations to all our team who took part (Laura Campbell, Alison Winterbottom, Lisa Yates, Val Stocker, Laura Brennan, Jill Gregory, Jamie Holmes, Sophie Lee) flying the flag for North Ainley and raising essential funds for Mahdlo.  With some sponsors still to be collected, we are thrilled to report that our total raised currently stands at £875 – which is just fantastic for a one off event.  A big thank you to all the firm’s friends, family and clients who sponsored us, we hope we did you proud!

If you didn’t get chance you can still sponsor us on the link below until 31 August  2018.

https://mydonate.bt.com/fundraisers/na3peaks

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New Acas Religion & Belief Guidance

Religion will always be a sensitive subject and in a multicultural society like ours it can be tricky for employers to navigate without unintentionally discriminating.  With that in mind, Acas (the Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service) have just issued new guidance on Religion and Belief discrimination.Acas

What is religion or belief discrimination?

The Equality Act 2010 makes it unlawful to discriminate against or treat someone unfairly because of religion or philosophical belief, or their lack thereof.  All protected beliefs are equal and so no one religion can override another. However, to be a protected philosophical belief, it must be more than an opinion, apply to a significant aspect of human life or behaviour, be worthy of respect and not conflict with other people’s the fundamental rights

The Guide

The Acas guidance suggests that discrimination is most likely to occur in recruitment, requests for time off and dress codes and suggests the following:

Recruitment

Job advertisements should be published widely, religion should not be mentioned in the posting but the employer should be clear in explaining the job’s duties and hours of work so there are no misunderstandings. Any potential issues should be flagged up early on in the recruitment process e.g. if the role involves client networking it would not be suitable for someone who refusesd to shake hands for religious reasons.

In rare circumstances employers can specify an ‘occupational requirement’ that a candidate must have (or not have) a particular religion or philosophical belief.

Leave Requests

Requests for time off for religious festivals or for religious reasons should be considered carefully and sympathetically and ideally, agreement on such requests should be set out within the employment contract. The guidance warns that refusing requests for leave for religious holidays and time to pray without good business reasons can lead to a claim for discrimination and also, that employers should acknowledge that employee performance may be affected during fasting.

Dress Codes

Where possible, employers’ dress codes should be flexible and reasonable and any restrictions must be based on solid business reasons that are proportionate, appropriate and necessary.

Is it useful?

In the absence of any government guidance, the Acas guide is long overdue and whilst it does go some way to inform and comfort employers it fails to address real life complexities of the workplace. For example, employers can be liable for their employees’ acts so it’s advisable to provide training to all staff on religion or belief discrimination and lay down firm rules on what behaviour is unacceptable. Employers should also note that if a discrimination cases got to an employment tribunal, the focus would be on how an individual ‘perceived’ words or actions and this is of course subjective.

If you are an employer or an employee and have concerns about discrimination in the workplace, contact North Ainley for expert legal advice.

Posted in Employment, Legal Briefs | Comments closed

Dress Codes: “Don’t tell me what to wear!”

As a society we are becoming increasingly averse to being told what to do, not least in the workplace and especially when the British summertime hits and we want to ditch the suits and keep cool……

Can I be told what to wear? There are many valid reasons why an employer may impose a dress code (corporate image, identification, health & safety) but it must relate to the job, be reasonable in nature and ideally be set out clearly in the organisation’s policy. Employees must also be informed of the policy and given enough time to buy the required attire.

But is it fair? A dress code must not be discriminatory against any of the ‘characteristics’ protected by the Equality Act 2010 (age, disability, gender reassignment, religion or belief, sex, or sexual orientation). For example, if a dress code is in place, reasonable adjustments may need to be made for disabled people and employers must respect clothing worn for religious reasons. However, this must be balanced against other relevant factors i.e. loose clothing may be a hazard when operating machinery.

Men v. women:  The Government Equalities Offices has recently published new guidance on dress codes and sex discrimination. The Guidance highlights that whilst dress policies for men and women do not have to be the same, the standards imposed on each sex should be equivalent. For example a policy can require men to ‘wear a tie’ whilst ‘business dress’ is required for women and requiring any gender-specific items (high heels, manicured nails or lipsticks) is likely to be held unlawful.

Recent media hype surrounding dress codes has caused many employers to review and even scrap their policies. Last summer male employees revolted against a ‘no shorts’ policy by wearing skirts to work and the Speaker of the House of Commons announced that male MPs no longer needed to wear a tie to speak, thus ending centuries of tradition.

What if I don’t want to? If the code is reasonable, staff can be dismissed for failing to comply but employers should be cautious of imposing high standards and risk having their policy tested by the Employment Tribunal.

Our Team at North Ainley provide clear and practical advice on all Employment Law issues.

Posted in Employment, Legal Briefs | Comments closed

Is your home owned by your partner?

In the 21st century it is very commonplace for individuals to cohabit with their partner. In the early stages of a relationship, a breakup seems remote.  If the property is owned in your partner’s sole name, it is prudent to consider at an early stage if you would be entitled to an interest in the home you share with your partner.  Many people invest their time and hard work into the “family home”, without establishing their rights.   This is a tricky area of law and it is important to obtain clear legal advice at the outset.

Judgement

The recent case of Dobson v Griffey [2018] EWHC 1117(Ch), emphasised  how difficult it can be to claim an interest in a property, if the property is in your partner’s sole name.  In this case, Ms Dobson and Mr Griffey were in a relationship and agreed to purchase a farm property in 2007, in Mr Griffey’s name, in which they would both live.  Ms Dobson alleged that before the property was purchased, an agreement was reached that she would have rights in the farm or that she had the right to live at the farm for her rest of her life. She also alleged agreement was reached that if Mr Griffey should die, she would inherit the property.

Ms Dobson carried out extensive manual work at the farm, including painting, tiling, clearing gutters and drains, creating gardens and re-sealing the roof. When the relationship broke down, she asserted that this manual work, together with the agreement she reached  with Mr Griffey before the farm was purchased meant she was entitled to a share in the proceeds of sale, when the farm was sold.  Mr Griffey did not agree and Court proceedings were issued by Ms Dobson, to establish her rights.

When couples are unmarried, the rules applied in the Family Court are not applicable and instead Courts have to decide cases such as this based on property law, which many consider are inadequate to deal with the way people live in the 21st century and reflect “contributions” made by an individual such as Ms Dobson.

The Judge hearing the case decided that no agreement was reached on the terms alleged by Ms Dobson and that she was not entitled to any money when the farm was sold. Accordingly, her claim failed.  She had not established any interest in the farm.

For help and expert guidance on these issues either at the outset or breakdown of a relationship contact the Dispute Resolution and Family team at North Ainley for further advice.

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Fund raising – Three Peaks of Saddleworth Challenge

North Ainley, as part of Mahdlo’s summer fundraising challenge will be taking part in their next challenge as a team take on the Three Peaks of Saddleworth on Saturday 8th July.  The route includes Pots and Pans, Indian’s Head & Wharmton Hill – this will be a tough day, but rewarded by amazing views across Oldham and beyond.3-peaks

Mahdlo are working with POINT (Parents of Oldham in Touch) on this event, with all the money raised supporting the work they do with the young people of Oldham.

Mahdlo is a registered charity and state-of-the-art Youth Zone in the heart of Oldham for 8-19 year olds (up to 25 for young people with a disability). Open 7 days a week, 52 weeks of the year, they offer an exciting range of activities and opportunities that all young people from across Oldham can access for just 50p as a member.

Mahdlo aims to deliver high quality, innovative activities and experiences for young people from Oldham, to provide opportunities to raise aspirations and support young people to be the best they can be.

The Youth Zone is governed by members of the local authority and business community, who volunteer their time to support a Senior Management Team to ensure the success of the Youth Zone. Senior Partner, John Ainley as a member of the Board helps contribute by using his skills and experience to assist Mahdlo in achieving its aims and objectives.

This will be a day to remember and a fantastic achievement for all who take part.

You can support us by helping raise funds by following the link below to make a donation.

https://mydonate.bt.com/fundraisers/na3peaks

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Alzheimer’s Society – Cupcake Day

North Ainley has again today joined in with organisations across the country for a day of fundraising by baking cakes, and of course eating them!

In addition to the baking of cakes and collecting donations we also had a few additional fun games together with a World Cup sweepstake to help raise further funds.

In the UK, someone develops Dementia every three minutes, and there is currently no cure.  With your support, we aim to change this.

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By hosting a Cupcake Day our staff not only get to enjoy some tasty treats with their colleagues, family, friends and clients, but help raise awareness and funds to help to find new treatments and, ultimately, a cure for Dementia.

Dedicated Cupcakers like us have raised £1.4 million since 2016 and this year we intend to raise even more together!

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Charity Quiz night

Once again a team from North Ainley attended the annual Oldham Law Association quiz in aid of Shelter, the housing and homeless charity.  Some last minute swotting took place just before the start of the quiz with a clear aim to win the trophy this year!  The atmosphere was tense, the questions were quick fire and in the end the team battled through to finish a very creditable second place (as we did last year!).  Well done to all the participants who helped raise funds for this worthy cause.

Shelter

Shelter helps millions of people every year struggling with bad housing or homelessness by offering advice, support and legal services.

They campaign to make sure that, one day, no one will have to turn to them for help.

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Dementia Action Week 2018 (21st – 27th May 2018)

Dementia Action Week (DAW) is now in full swing with various events being held across the country.  The purpose of DAW is to raise awareness of dementia.  This week a staggering statistic has shown that there are currently 850,000 people with dementia in the UK.  By 2025 the number is set to rise to 1 million and by 2051; the number is set to rise to 2 million.

Given this statistic, dementia awareness is so important.  Everyone should educate themselves about dementia and there are plenty of helpful resources on the internet to help you in understanding more about dementia and how to care for someone with dementia.  You can also become a dementia friend by attending a session – search the internet for dementia friends sessions in your area.  We are in the process of arranging dementia friends training for all of our staff.dementia

With Barbara Windsor’s diagnosis of Alzheimer’s, the most common form of dementia, that has been in the press recently, and looking at the statistic above, it is so important to put things in place whilst you still can to ensure your loved ones can look after you, and your affairs, should you be diagnosed with dementia.  Everyone should have a Will in place and Lasting Powers of Attorney but, unfortunately, too many people in the UK do not.  Once you lose capacity you cannot make either so act now, or before it’s too late, to put them in place.

Having a Will means that you can ensure your assets pass to the people you wish to benefit on your death.  If you die without a Will (intestate), the law dictates who is to receive your estate.

Lasting Powers of Attorney allow your named Attorney(s) to look after and manage your affairs for you as and when you require assistance; whether that be whilst you still have capacity or if you should lose capacity.  Under a Lasting Power of Attorney, your Attorney(s) can ensure all of your bills are paid, your care home fees are paid and your affairs generally looked after.

Should you lose capacity and you do not have a Lasting Power of Attorney then your loved ones will not be able to manage your affairs and ensure your bills are paid.  They may have to in some circumstances pay your bills themselves for a period of time.  Your family, or an appropriate person, would have to apply to the Court of Protection to be appointed as your Deputy but, this process can be rather lengthy and expensive.

Act now to get your affairs in order and speak to a member of our Private Client Team.

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When is your home not your home?

What happens if you have lived with a partner for many years and your partner dies without making a Will?  What if the Will that your partner did make leaves little or nothing to you? In those circumstances, what rights do you have?

What, for example, happens to the property you shared with your partner?

What if your partner did not make a Will?

The Intestacy Rules will apply.  Co-habitees are not recognised under the Intestacy Rules.  A co-habitee would not benefit from a deceased partner’s estate.

What if the property is jointly owned?

If you owned the property with your partner on what is known as a joint tenant basis, the property would pass to you under established legal principles, whether or not your partner had a Will.

What if your partner owned the property?

If the property was in your partner’s sole name the Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependants) Act 1975 allows certain categories of individuals (including those who have lived with a partner for more than two years) to make a claim against their partner’s estate, for what is known as reasonable financial provision.  The claim would be for such financial provision as it would be reasonable to receive for your maintenance.  Maintenance would include somewhere to live and may include a lump sum payment, dependent on your financial position.

“It won’t happen to me” In a recent case Thompson v Raggett (2018), a couple lived together for 42 years but never married.  Throughout the relationship, Ms Thompson was financially dependent upon Mr Hodge.  After suffering a stroke in 2006, she became physically dependent upon Mr Hodge and moved temporarily to a nursing home in 2015.  Mr Hodge purchased a cottage to be  adapted to Ms Thompson’s needs but he passed away before they could move into the cottage.  Mr Hodge made a will, leaving his £1.5m estate (including the cottage) to two tenants of a property he owned.  The will left nothing to Ms Thompson! She was effectively left homeless at the age of 79.

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Ms Thompson made a claim under the 1975 Act.  Often in these types of cases, Courts allow a cohabitee to live in a property during their lifetime and the property reverts on their death to the estate of the deceased partner.  Ms Thompson’s claim was successful and given the length of the relationship, she was awarded the cottage outright, c.£29,000 to cover costs of adapting the cottage to her needs and a lump sum payment of £160,000.

Don’t leave it to chance.  If any of these issues do or may affect you in the future, contact North Ainley for expert legal advice.

Johanna Nolan is a Solicitor in the Dispute Resolution team at North Ainley.  For advice on this issue or any dispute contact Johanna a member of our litigation team.

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