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Category Archives: Residential Property

CORONAVIRUS (COVID-19) – Office open for screened appointments

As the effect of coronavirus (COVID-19) continues to evolve, North Ainley Solicitors are firmly committed to the health and safety of our client’s and staff.

Whilst we have remained operational throughout lockdown with limited staff at the office and the rest of the teams working from home, we have continued to work harder than ever to ensure that there has been as little interruption as possible to our clients.  Fortunately, our teams were already well equipped to work NA Logo squaresecurely from home and this has been invaluable in servicing the needs of clients.

We have continued to provide the best possible service and our Private Client Team have responded to the many sad cases where families have lost a loved one.  We have visited clients who were unwell, some with life threatening illnesses, who wanted to ensure that their affairs were in order and hopefully we have helped to give them peace of mind at a most difficult time in their lives.  The Property and Corporate Teams have worked tirelessly to bring transactions to completion despite the challenges and have facilitated house moves and commercial transactions – some vital to provide essential cash flow to businesses.  Our Dispute Resolution Team has always been on hand to advise on employment and contentious issues and to help with some of the sad and distressing marital problems that were inevitable as some families struggled to cope with lockdown.

We have also been working hard during lockdown to prepare our office and staff for returning to work.  In view of the relaxation of some regulations we are pleased to announce that from Monday 8 June we will officially open our door and are now able to offer face to face screened interviews (by appointment only) in addition to telephone and video conferencing such as Zoom, Microsoft Teams and other secure channels of communication – whichever our clients prefer.

At the moment, a number of our staff will continue to work from home and whilst all our legal services remain available, we also understand that some clients feel more comfortable seeing someone face to face.  Consequently, members of our staff are now available to see existing and new clients who prefer to come to the office.  Anyone seeking advice can be reassured that we have carried out a full risk assessment and have introduced measures throughout the office to help provide a safe environment for clients, visitors and staff.

These include the installation of new screens in Reception, interview rooms and shared workspaces, a touch free sanitising station sited in the interior entrance hall along with containers throughout the office to provide easy access to anti-bacterial hand gel.  We have introduced social distancing measures and have protocols in place for the sanitising of surfaces and touch points throughout the office before and after each interview.  All these steps together with rigorous staff training following Government guidelines gives us confidence to welcome back more staff and clients to the office.

If you require information on an existing matter or wish to instruct us on a new matter, please ring on 0161 624 5614.  You can also contact us by email at [email protected] or online by using the Contact Form.

 

Also posted in Business Employment, Commercial & Corporate, Commercial Litigation, Employment, Family, North Ainley News, Private Client, Property Development | Comments closed

CORONAVIRUS (COVID-19) – Guidance on house moving

moving-boxes-4118678_1280The government advice at present is that moves into occupied properties should only take place where contracts have already been exchanged and it has proved impossible for the parties involved to agree a deferral.  We therefore encourage our client’s to agree an appropriate deferral and only advise you to proceed if that has proved impossible.

At present the police emergency powers are disapplied only for critical home moves.

Moves into unoccupied properties may continue, subject to the points below.

When moves occur, they must do so in a way which takes account of the guidance currently in force from Public Health England and Public Health Wales.  You should make yourselves aware of the requirements applicable at the time you are looking to move.

We are keeping up to date with guidance as it evolves and changes with health advice.

We are working with our clients and taking a common sense approach in applying the advice bearing in mind the overall objectives of government policy in this public health emergency.

Our Residential Property team remain operational and will continue to be available to provide advice and guidance to all our clients during these challenging times.  We will continue to progress and complete matters where possible.  New and existing clients are asked to contact us by telephone and email and we will respond as usual.  Video conferencing is also available where necessary.

Thank you for your patience during this time.

Also posted in Property Development | Comments closed

CORONAVIRUS (COVID-19) – Office Update

NA Logo squareWe regret it has been necessary to close the door of the office, not only to ensure the welfare of our clients but also that of all our dedicated staff.  Some personnel are designated as ‘key workers’ at North Ainley because they are dealing with, for example, Wills and Lasting Powers of Attorney and also looking after our elderly and vulnerable clients.  They will work behind closed doors but most others will work from home.  We can be contacted by phone, email or letter so that there is minimum disruption to our services.

If it is absolutely essential that you see a member of staff, please ring this number (0161 624 5614) now and you will be given guidance whilst outside the office.  In all other cases, please email us or ring one of the numbers below depending on the nature of the service you require.

We very much appreciate your support and understanding in these challenging times but will do everything possible to provide help where necessary.

Family Department – 07796 603649

Employment & Litigation  Department – 07990 154164

Residential Property Department – 07468 294547

Private Client Department – 07391 024695

Commercial/Corporate Department – 07392 718704

Also posted in Business Employment, Commercial & Corporate, Commercial Litigation, Employment, Family, Litigation Disputes, North Ainley News, Private Client, Probate & Estate Adminstration, Property Development | Comments closed

CORONAVIRUS (COVID-19)

NA Logo squareWe wish to assure all our clients and professional contacts that we will continue to provide the best possible level of service in these challenging times.

We are naturally concerned for the welfare and well-being of our clients, staff and their families and it would be advisable to avoid face to face meetings at the moment.  If it is considered necessary for you to attend the office, please alert us beforehand if you are showing any symptoms of the virus or have been in contact with anyone displaying symptoms.  We can then make alternative arrangements and hopefully deal with your matter over the telephone or by email.

The office remains open and calls, emails and voicemail will be dealt with promptly.  We very much appreciate your support and will do everything possible to avoid any disruption or interruption to our services.

Please visit our website frequently for further updates.

Also posted in Business Employment, Commercial & Corporate, Commercial Litigation, Employment, Family, Litigation Disputes, North Ainley News, Private Client, Probate & Estate Adminstration, Property Development | Comments closed

Charity of the Year

Every year at North Ainley we have a Charity of the Year whereby we raise funds for the chosen charity with various fundraising events.  During the course of 2019 our chosen Charity of the Year was Maggie’s Oldham.

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For those that do not know, Maggie’s is a place where people who have been diagnosed with cancer and their families can find practical advice about benefits and eating well; a place where qualified experts provide emotional support; a place to meet other people; a place where you can simply sit quietly with a cup of tea.

Every day they welcome up to 70 visitors to the centre.  Each time somebody walks through the door it costs £20.00 for them to provide them with the immediate advice and support they need.  They rely solely on donations and fundraising to enable to them to be there for people with cancer and their families, when they need them most.

Throughout the year we have taken part in various fundraising events for Maggie’s; their Kitchen Table Day; the Culture Crawl and the Go Outrageously Orange Day.  We also raised money for them last Christmas with our annual Christmas hampers.  In total, we raised a total of £1,222.00.  The money raised by us would have funded 60 people walking through the door which is amazing.

As well as Maggie’s being our Charity of the Year for 2019, we have also partnered up with them to run a free Wills clinic at the centre for their visitors and their visitor’s friends, family and carers.  The clinic allows visitors of the centre, or their loved ones, to prepare a simple Will at no cost to them whatsoever.  The clinic is run on the second Tuesday of every month between the hours of 2pm-5pm.  The clinic has been running for over 12 months now and is proving to be a great success and extremely rewarding for our fee earners, Jennifer Kitchener and Danielle Judge who run the clinic, being able to support local people in a time of need.

Although 2020 will see a new Charity of the Year for us, we are proud to say that the Wills clinic at Maggie’s will be continuing in 2020.  The clinic usually gets booked up a couple of months in advance so any visitors to Maggie’s, or the friends, family and carers of any visitors are free to contact the Oldham Maggie’s centre to book an appointment at one of the clinics.

We are extremely proud to have supported Maggie’s throughout 2019 and are looking forward to continuing our partnership with them as they are a wonderful charity.

For more information on how they can help you or a loved one, please visit their website at https://www.maggiescentres.org/our-centres/maggies-oldham/ .

Moving into 2020, we are excited to announce that our Charity of the Year will be MIND and we are proud to be supporting them this year to support the brilliant work they do.

Also posted in Business Employment, Commercial & Corporate, Commercial Litigation, Employment, Family, Litigation Disputes, North Ainley News, Private Client, Probate & Estate Adminstration, Property Development | Comments closed

Oldham Law Association Dinner

OLAA brilliant time had by all at the Oldham Law Association annual dinner, thank you to the organisers and to the The White Hart Inn at Lydgate for top notch food and service as always.

For over 100 years, Oldham Law Association has represented solicitors working or living in the town and surrounding area.  The Association lobbies Government and other stakeholders on issues that affect the profession, it provides training opportunities and social networking events.

Also posted in Business Employment, Commercial & Corporate, Commercial Litigation, Employment, Family, Litigation Disputes, North Ainley News, Private Client, Probate & Estate Adminstration, Property Development | Comments closed

International Day for Tolerance

toleranceWe might not strike you as the most tolerant bunch but actually, as lawyers it’s part of our job to treat everyone the same.

We work in a richly diverse town and are proud to advise and act regardless of race, creed, colour or gender – we invite you to strive to do the same.

For anyone who requires advice for you or your business, please do not hesitate to contact a member of our team.

Also posted in Business Employment, Commercial & Corporate, Commercial Litigation, Employment, Family, Litigation Disputes, North Ainley News, Private Client, Probate & Estate Adminstration, Property Development | Comments closed

Solicitor Chat

sol chatNorth Ainley Solicitors take part in a weekly lively discussion about topical legal issues every Thursday on Twitter and each week a prize is awarded to the best tweets.  This week’s questions were based on property related topics and our Residential Property Partner Vinesh Mistry was awarded the prize for his winning contributions to today’s Law Society Solicitor Chat – well done!

Vinesh Mistry and the rest of the Residential Property Team are highly experienced and deal with all aspects of residential property transactions.  Our team has over 50 year’s collective experience in dealing with all aspects of Residential Property transactions.  Each member of staff within the department has dealt with numerous transactions and our experience helps us achieve our clients’ expectations in a timely manner.   Using this experience we can give the appropriate advice and guidance at each stage of the transaction to help ensure a smooth and stress free process.

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For more information or advice on buying and or selling property please do not hesitate to contact a member of the Residential Property team.

Please also visit our North Ainley Solicitors Twitter page for more information and details of our contributions to Solicitor Chat.

Also posted in North Ainley News, Property Development | Comments closed

Good news for local Solicitors

The ‘Legal Service Consumer Panel Tracker Survey 2019‘ revealed that 77% of legal service ‘users’ chose small local ‘high street firms’ to deal with their matter, with 79% of users saying ‘reputation’ was the most important factor in their choice and 84% being satisfied with the service they received.

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The survey also highlighted that shopping around for the cheapest isn’t a good thing – 77% of clients found price information direct from lawyers easy to understand but that fell to just 38% in those trying to compare prices between different providers.

At North Ainley Solicitors we pride ourselves on combining a local, friendly, personal service, with city professionalism from all our high calibre lawyers and support staff.  Our ethos is to provide straight forward advice, using everyday terms that can be understood.  Our strong reputation has resulted in new business throughout the year and combined with our competitive and cost effective solutions we are seeing a surge in new business.

For more information and advice, either for you or your business, please do not hesitate to contact a member of our team.

Also posted in Business Employment, Commercial & Corporate, Commercial Litigation, Employment, Family, Litigation Disputes, North Ainley News, Private Client, Probate & Estate Adminstration, Property Development | Comments closed

Continuing Best Practice following a successful Lexcel Assessment

North Ainley Solicitors has once again successfully secured the Law Society Legal Practice Quality Mark, Lexcel.Lexcel

Lexcel is an optional, recognised accreditation scheme for Law Firms and in house Legal Departments which gives the public the assurance that a Practice meets high Client Care and Business Management standards.  North Ainley originally achieved the standard in 2011 and has successfully retained the accreditation at each annual assessment thereafter.

John Ainley the senior partner of the firm said “we are delighted to have retained the Lexcel Accreditation.  There have been a number of changes to the standards in the last year, particularly in light of the recent GDPR requirements.  It is reassuring to know that our procedures are up to the mark.  There is a lot of choice in the legal services market but being Lexcel Accredited demonstrates our commitment to Client Care and Best Practice.  The best interests of our clients and staff are at the heart of the way we work”.

Also posted in Business Employment, Commercial & Corporate, Commercial Litigation, Employment, Family, Legal Briefs, Litigation Disputes, North Ainley News, Private Client, Probate & Estate Adminstration, Property Development | Comments closed

Tenant Fees Act 2019

On 1 June 2019, the Tenant Fees Act (“the Act”) will come into force.  The aim of the Act is to reduce costs Landlords may currently impose on tenants both at the outset and during the tenancy.  The Act applies to new tenancies from 1st June and to existing tenancies from 1 June 2020.  It affects tenants renting privately, student accommodation and licences. Letting Agents are also governed by the Act.  The Act does not apply to social housing and long leases.

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Of course, rent can still be claimed.  Rent payments cannot be increased at the beginning of the tenancy and then reduced later on in an effort to recoup costs indirectly.

A Landlord is permitted to claim certain payments by the Act, but the amount that can be claimed is restricted.  Whilst a deposit can still be claimed, the Act provides that the amount of the deposit cannot be more than five weeks rent if the annual rent of a property is less than £50,000.  If the annual rent is more than £50,000, the deposit must not exceed six weeks rent.  If a holding deposit is paid for a property, this must not be more than one weeks’ rent and once a tenancy agreement is entered into the holding deposit should be repaid.

Other charges can be made by a Landlord e.g. cost of replacing lost keys, charge for late payment of rent, ending the tenancy agreement early, changing the tenancy agreement or a claim for utility or Council Tax payments if not paid by the Tenant.  However, the Landlord can only recover the reasonable cost incurred by the Landlord.

Tenants will be entitled to recover charges wrongly paid.

A landlord in breach of Section 1 or 2 of the Act can face a fine of up to £5,000 for a first offence.  If a Landlord commits a further breach within five years of the first breach, a criminal offence is committed or alternatively the Landlord may face civil proceedings and be fined up to £30,000.

Landlords should note that if a payment prohibited by the Act has been taken and not re-paid to the Tenant, the Landlord will be prevented from serving a Section 21 notice.

For further information and guidance, contact our Dispute Resolution Team.

Also posted in Legal Briefs, Litigation Disputes | Comments closed

The Housing Market

Despite the cold start to the year or the Brexit jitters, it’s not all doom and gloom as some sources reveal a positive start to the year.  House prices in the United Kingdom overall continued to rise in 2018 and it is predicted that this trend will continue in 2019:-

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  • Hometrack Property Analysts predict 3% rise
  • Halifax predict 2-4% rise
  • Rightmove have predicted no change
  • Nationwide have predicted 1% rise.

The above predictions cover the whole of the United Kingdom, however, the North West appears to be faring far better than London, South East, South West and East Midlands according to the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors.

Whilst the Bank of England believe the impact of the UK leaving the European Union could be significant on the housing market, that impact has not yet been felt in Oldham and the surrounding areas.  Whichever way Brexit is finally decided, the United Kingdom is still a stable country (contrary to current appearances) compared to many others and an end to the current uncertainty will make a positive difference.

Mortgage rates are very low, first time buyers are the most active group in the UK property market according to Hometrack Property Analysts and it may be that part of the reason the North West is currently doing so well is because of some companies relocating from London to Manchester and the surrounding areas and there are new high tech firms which are booming in the North West and creating more employment.  These initiatives attract buyers that are looking to live somewhere affordable and commutable.

Savilles Estate Agents have predicted that over the next 5 years property prices in the North West will rise by 21.6%  which is a very promising prediction and hopefully comes to fruition.

For further information or advice on buying a home, please contact a member of our conveyancing solicitors.

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Choosing the right lawyer

It can be a big decision to instruct a solicitor and it could end up costing you a lot of money, so you need to get it right!

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Certainly, it can be tempting to go to the first firm you think of, drive past on the way to work or that has the fanciest offices but there are some things you should consider before parting with your hard earned cash:

Specialism – Often, high street practices try to be a jack of all trades, with the same Solicitor offering advice on all manner of problems. But, if you have an employment law issue why would you want advice from a Solicitor with a background in property law? Do your research and make sure the Solicitor you will see is a specialist in and has good experience in the area you need advice on.

Recommendations – from people you know and trust are always useful but if your friend recommends a firm because they did a good job of selling their business, it does not make them best placed to help you make a personal injury claim.

Attitude – Make sure you are on the same page. If you want to resolve your issue amicably, you do not want an aggressive lawyer who will rack up costs arguing over nothing. Likewise, if you want a robust approach, don’t instruct a wallflower. A good lawyer will explain the options and alter their approach based on your instructions and will be mindful of how their approach will affect your costs; even if that means telling you what you don’t want to hear.

Alternatives – Does the firm promote and actively engage in other ways of resolving legal problems; such as ACAS Conciliation for employment problems or Mediation or Collaborative Law for family matters? Again, a good lawyer who isn’t just interested in taking your money will encourage these approaches where appropriate.

Likeability – Believe it or not, not all solicitors are cut throat so it’s important that you feel comfortable speaking with your legal adviser and that you feel able to build a relationship of trust and confidence. That said, just because you might want to go for a pint with them does not mean they will give you quality legal advice.

Fees – Make sure you have a very good estimate of what it’s likely to cost and when you will be billed. From 6 December 2018, all Solicitors websites must display prices and service information for residential conveyancing, probate, unfair & wrongful dismissals, debt recovery and licensing applications.

Choice – Remember you don’t have to use any firm which may already have been ‘assigned’ to you – perhaps by your employer when handling a settlement agreement or your car hire company when dealing with an Road Traffic Accident.

At North Ainley, we have been advising the people of Oldham since 1901 but that doesn’t mean you will get out of date advice, just lots of experience! Our size allows us to combine a friendly, personal service with city professionalism from a team of specialist Solicitors and legal advisers.

For more information, please call Laura Campbell, a Solicitor in our Dispute Resolution team on 0161 624 5614.

Also posted in Commercial & Corporate, Commercial Litigation, Employment, Family, Litigation Disputes, Private Client, Probate & Estate Adminstration | Comments closed

New Year, New Start

ChangeAre you buying a new house, starting a new business venture, getting married or expecting a new arrival this year?  However your life changes in 2019, make sure you keep your Will up to date to protect the ones you love.

Contact a member our legal team who can provide you advice and guidance on Wills, house sales or purchases, business advice and all family related matters.

Also posted in Commercial & Corporate, Family, North Ainley News, Private Client | Comments closed

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.

Also posted in Commercial Litigation, Property Development | Comments closed

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.

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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.

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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.

Also posted in Family, Legal Briefs | Comments closed

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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Warning to all Landlords – time is running out!

Landlords will not be able to rent out both domestic and non-domestic properties unless they meet the new Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) Rules (2018) which come into force on 1 April 2018.  Properties across England and Wales are currently expected not to pass the new rules and could face huge fines.

To make sure you don’t fall foul, consider the new rules and what you need to do to make your property compliant in time.

What are the upcoming EPC changes?

Landlords are required to have a EPC Certificate and they last for a period of ten years.  Back in 2015 legislation was passed that means, from 1 April 2018, properties will have to meet a minimum energy efficiency standard (MEES).  The minimum efficiency standard is set at an E rating for all types of domestic and non-domestic property.

So which properties do the new EPC rules apply to?

The new rules apply to both domestic and none-domestic properties in the private rental sector meaning that whether a landlord is letting out a commercial property or a house to a tenant, it could be unlawful to do so should the building not meet these new minimum EPC requirements.

Without an EPC rated E or above it will not be possible to issue a new tenancy, or renew an existing tenancy, from 1st April 2018.  There are fines of up to £5,000 for landlords that are found in breach of the legislation.  The regulations will be enforced by Trading Standards Officers. Penalties will be based on the rateable value of the property.

Do the EPC changes affect current tenancies or just new lets?

The 2018 rules only apply to new tenancies, but in 2020, the same rules will apply to all tenancies.

In April 2020, the new MEES rules will apply to all existing lets.  At this point, you will need an EPC rating of an E or above to let your property at all.  Even if your tenancy is already underway and you have no plans to renew, after April 2020, you will need to have an EPC rating of E or above or you could face fines.

What should I do if my rental property has an EPC that is lower than an E rating?

If your last EPC rating was below an E, the first thing to do is consider when the EPC was last carried our and what improvements, if any, you have made to the property that may have improved the energy efficiency rating.  EPC calculations are changing all the time and it is possible that you will receive a different rating to the one you got several years ago.  Your EPC report will have a list of recommended measures for improving your property’s energy efficiency performance.  You will need to carry out enough of these measures to improve your score to above an E rating.  If the property’s new EPC rating is still below an E, then you will need to make efficiency improvements to boost your rating before you let it out or renew your contract.

Speak to your EPC assessor if you are unsure about how to proceed with improvements.  After the energy efficiency changes have been made to the property, you will then need to get another EPC to show the new energy rating.

We recommend you review your property portfolio now to consider what you may need to budget for in the future.

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New Stamp Duty Charges for First Time Buyers

Prior to the Budget first-time buyers paid Stamp Duty on purchases above £125,000.  In today’s Budget the Chancellor announced that Stamp Duty has been abolished immediately for first-time buyers buying a home of up to £300,000.

The change means that for properties costing up to £500,000, no Stamp Duty will be paid on the first £300,000.  Stamp duty will then be charged at a rate of 5% on the amount from £300,00 to £500,000.

The change will apply in England and Wales, and in Northern Ireland up until the end of March 2018.

The table below illustrates the changes.

SDLT Table

What is Stamp Duty?

Stamp Duty is a lump-sum tax that anyone buying a property or land costing more than a set amount has to pay. The amount of tax you will have to pay varies based on the property price.

Do I qualify as a first-time buyer? 

A first-time buyer is defined as someone who has never owned freehold or leasehold property before and who is purchasing their only or main residence.  This includes ownership of a property anywhere in the world.

So if you have sold up and rented for a while, you do not qualify.

You also won’t qualify for the relief if you’re buying to let – even if it’s your first purchase.  The property you’re buying needs to be used as your main residence.

In respect of a joint purchase, all purchasers would need to be first-time buyers to qualify for the relief.

Please contact our Property Department for further information.

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