The issue of how remedial works and interim measures will be funded is an emotive and challenging one, with many competing interests at play. Brady Solicitors’ Adam Fotiou reviews the options for freeholders and managing agents seeking to fund these essential works.
Owners and developers who had installed cladding in good faith are refusing to pay for remedial works and many are looking to the leaseholders to fund these works under their service charge, should the leases to the flat permit them to do so.
However, leaseholders are inevitably (and understandably) aggrieved; they purchased their flats in the comfort of knowing the building regulations designed to protect their safety and the certification by local authorities of a building’s compliance with those regulations were both fit for purpose. The individual costs of the remedial works through the service charge will likely be life-changing for many.
Click here to read the full article published by News on The Block.
In December 2018, the Government issued Advice Note 14 (AN14) for anyone responsible for, or advising on, the fire safety of external wall cladding systems on residential buildings over 18m in height that do not incorporate Aluminium Composite Material (ACM), such as that found in Grenfell. The emphasis was on combustible systems such as wood and High-Pressure Laminate (HPL) installations. Although only an Advice Note this document is causing issues in the sale and re-mortgage of leasehold flats in affected buildings as some valuers are returning a £0 value on flats, thereby holding up sales.
ARMA (the Association of Residential Managing Agents) has been very active on the matter, taking the issue up with the Prime Minister’s Special Adviser, MP’s and the Ministry for Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG). It is a member of the cross industry working group on valuations set up by RICS to address the matter.
Click here to see ARMA’s response to the confusion as detailed in an article published by News on The Block.
Tessa Shepperson of The Landlord Law Blog writes about how leases fall under contract law.
As well as being an ‘estate in land’ (looked at in part 1) a lease or tenancy is also a type of contract. So we need to take a look at contract law.
Contract law is a very important area of law which affects all of us in our lives every day.
A contract is an agreement about something which is enforceable by law. To create a contract you need to have three things:
- An offer
- Acceptance of the offer, and
- Consideration going both ways.
A lease or tenancy is created in the same way as a contract, by one party making an offer and the other party accepting it.
Normally there is a written document but not always (more on this later). The consideration, so far as the tenant is concerned, is the rent, and so far as the landlord is concerned, is the property.
The rent does not have to be a market rent. Nor does it have to be money. For example, in the past (and when spices were a lot more valuable) a peppercorn was sometimes used for rent. A ‘peppercorn rent’ is a phrase now used to indicate a payment which is of low value but sufficient to create the tenancy / lease.
Click here to read more
With the new General Data Protection Regulations (GDPR) coming into force on the 25th May 2018 many Residents Associations and Management Companies are asking what this means for them.
In a recent Q&A from News on the Block, Vincent Billings of Bolt Burdon provides his advice on what is required to comply with GDPR in a property business.
The driving aim of the GDPR is to protect individual’s data. Any business cannot deal with personal data simply because it wants to. Every element of data processing must be justified according to the GDPR.
The starting point for dealing with the GDPR in relation to any property business is to establish what personal data you hold, where it came from and who you share it with including if any direct marketing takes place.
To read more click here.
In a recent post from News on the Block Clare Brady of Brady Solicitors highlights 5 factors to be considered before combining service charge and ground rents. She writes;
When acting for an RMC or Right to Manage Company, managing agents will often be told by the freeholder to allow them to deal with the service charge arrears. The benefits of such an approach are clear from the ground rent owner’s perspective, but is it in the best interests of the management company, the leaseholders and the block?
With ground rent recovery increasingly in the spotlight, both managing agents and freeholders must take care to ensure recovery procedures are legal, in line with the terms of the lease and – importantly – in the best interests of the RMC and leaseholders.
Click here to read the full article.
Victoria Barker of Residential Landlords Association states that landlords are being reminded of the importance of serving a copy of a valid gas safety certificate at the start of a tenancy, or they risk being unable to serve a Section 21 notice of possession.
In a case that was heard at Central London County court earlier this month, a letting agent failed in their attempt to use a Section 21 route to gain possession of their property.
District Judge Bloom rejected the possession claim, on the basis that at the time the Section 21 notice was served on the tenant, the landlord had failed to provide them with a copy of a valid gas safety certificate before the tenant had moved into the property.
Despite the landlord having provided the tenant with a copy of the new gas safety certificate, following an annual gas safety inspection 11 months later, this made no difference and the Judge still rejected the Section 21 claim.
What this means
Up until now, if a landlord wanted to gain possession of a property through using a Section 21 route to possession, and they had not served their tenants with a copy of a valid gas safety certificate, it was assumed they would have been able to rectify this for example by giving the tenants a copy of the gas safety certificate at a later date.
This case highlights that it is absolutely ESSENTIAL for landlords in England to serve tenants a valid gas safety certificate at the start of a tenancy, together with other prescribed documents, if the tenancy began on or after the 1st October 2015 (when the Deregulation Act provisions came into force).
Just as it is critical that all private landlords ensure that all gas equipment in the accommodation that they rent out has a valid gas safety certificate (which lasts for twelve months) it is now equally essential for landlords to share a copy of the gas safety certificate with tenants at the start or renewal of a tenancy.
Read more here.
On the 22nd November 2017 the Chancellor of the Exchequer presented his Autumn Budget to Parliament.
The 2017 budget addressed the requirement of increased funding in the construction industry. It was announced that £15.3 billion of new funding would go towards supporting the building of houses over the next five years. This is with the aim to achieve a target of 300,000 new homes a year. In addition to this £34 million has been set aside to support the teaching of construction skills.
Thomas Reuters Practical Law have highlighted the implications that the new budget has on the construction industry – Read the full article here.
One of the main issues faced by landlords making a repair or replace decision concerns the recovery of such costs through the service charge.
In a recent article Zara Saunders of Shoosmiths comments that Service charge recovery can be a matter fraught with difficulty, even in the sphere of commercial property where no statutory limitation applies. Property owners may only recover costs to the extent permitted by a lease and issues frequently arise regarding whether an item of expenditure is one of repair or improvement and to what extent recovery might be permissible. Tenants will generally expect to pay the cost of repairs but not improvements.
Read the full article here.
Adele Nicol of Anderson Strathern LLP reports that new legislation, concerning Private Housing (Tenancies) (Scotland) Act 2016, creates a new form of residential tenancy known as the Private Residential Tenancy (“PRT”). Once the Act is in force it will not be possible to create new Assured or Short Assured Tenancies; existing leases will be phased out, for example a tenant inheriting an Assured or a Short Tenancy will acquire a PRT instead. The ability of a landlord to bring a PRT to an end is more limited than for a Short Assured Tenancy.
The new legislation also contains related provisions including on rent review, and on rent control (in “pressure zones”)
The changes in the Private Housing (Tenancies) (Scotland) Act 2016 have not yet been brought into force. The Scottish Government has indicated that this will happen in December 2017.
Read more here.
Zoe Stollard of Clarke Willmott provides insight into the Construction Industry Scheme and the changes which have been implemented in 2017.
The Construction Industry Scheme (CIS) is designed to decrease perceived undeclared payments in the construction sector. It requires contractors to register for the scheme and to withhold tax before payments are made to sub-contractors under contracts relating to construction operations. The amount of tax withheld depends on the registration status of the sub-contractor:
- if they are unregistered, 30% must be withheld;
- if they are registered, 20% must be withheld; and
- if they meet certain criteria and register for gross payments, 0% must be withheld.
The contractor must then pass to the HMRC the amounts withheld.
Prior to April 2017, contractors could verify whether sub-contractors were registered and whether they could be paid gross online or by phone. From the 6th of April 2017 sub-contractors must be registered online.
Read the full article here.