Town and Country Planning Act abandoned ‘Four-year rule’, what are the impacts?

The Levelling-up and Regeneration Act 2023 significantly advances the UK's urban development and planning regulations. Enacted on 26th October 2023, this comprehensive reform significantly amends the country's planning system, impacting developers, property owners, and local planning authorities, especially regarding unauthorised developments. One critical change is the amendment to Section 171B of the Town and Country Planning Act (TCPA) 1990, which alters the enforcement period for unauthorised developments.

Previously, the "four-year rule" under the TCPA 1990 provided immunity from enforcement action for developments or land uses existing continuously for four years without challenge. However, the Levelling Up and Regeneration Act 2023 extends this period to ten years in England, effectively doubling it. This extension offers local planning authorities in England a broader timeframe to address unauthorised developments, potentially reducing instances of unauthorised construction.

This amendment significantly impacts enforcement practices, development dynamics, and due diligence processes. Developers and property owners now face increased scrutiny and must exercise greater caution when undertaking projects without proper planning permissions. The extension provides local planning authorities in England with more time to curb unauthorised construction and enhance adherence to planning regulations.

The transitional provision accompanying this amendment ensures consistency in enforcement practices, maintaining the previous four-year enforcement window for developments completed or breaches occurring before 25th April 2024. However, it also introduces regional disparity in planning legislation between England and Wales, potentially resulting in divergent approaches to addressing unauthorised development.

The rationale behind extending the enforcement period is multifaceted, aiming to enhance regulatory compliance, deter unauthorised construction activities, and support sustainable development. Overall, the Levelling-up and Regeneration Act 2023 represents a significant step forward in the UK's planning system evolution, with the extension of the enforcement period for unauthorised development standing out as a prominent amendment.

In conclusion, this legislation heralds a new era in town and country planning, characterised by extended enforcement periods and regional variation in legislation. By providing local planning authorities in England with more time to address unauthorised developments, this change aims to promote regulatory compliance and sustainable development practices. However, it also emphasises the importance of vigilance and strategic navigation of planning regulations in the evolving urban landscape of the UK.

 

If you plan to purchase a regarding residential propertiescommercial properties or engage in any real estate transactions, please get in touch with Chan Neill Solicitors. Our team of property solicitors has extensive experience in assisting local and overseas buyers on their journey to settling in their new homes.

 

This article is provided  for general information only. It is not intended to be and cannot be relied upon as legal advice or otherwise. If you would like to discuss any of the matters covered in this article, please contact us using the contact form or email us on reception@cnsolicitors.com

Strengthening Law firms in the Wake of the CTS Cyber Attack

 

The increasing reliance on digital technologies across various industries casts a long shadow of cyber threats, prominently exemplified by the CTS cyber-attack. This significant incident in the conveyancing sector has highlighted the vulnerability of law firms to such digital dangers. More than just causing operational disruptions, the attack served as a critical wake-up call, emphasising the urgent need for robust cybersecurity measures. With cloud-based services now a norm for the easy exchange and storage of information, it is crucial for law firms to be mindful to the security implications of these technologies. The CTS cyber-attack was a clear alert to the potential weaknesses in digital defenses, allowing law firms to develop comprehensive strategies against future intrusions. In this era of digital dependency, strong cybersecurity measures have become an essential cornerstone for industry resilience against ongoing and evolving cyber threats.

 

 

The recent cyber-attack has highlighted the fragility of cloud-based storage and services that countless law firms depend on for managing and sharing data. Despite their apparent convenience, these platforms come with inherent security risks. It is imperative that firms not only choose cloud service providers with robust security measures but also maintain strict access controls internally. The scope and severity of the attack's impact was profound, with more than 80 law firms experiencing varying levels of operational disruption. The inability to access systems, process transactions, or maintain operational continuity led to considerable setbacks in the property exchange process, as highlighted by The Law Society's report on the CTS incident. This starkly illustrates the urgent need for reinforced cybersecurity measures within the legal sector.

 

 

In the immediate aftermath of the attack, CTS took substantial steps to restore their systems and reassure their clients. By December's end, CTS announced the restoration of their systems, marking a significant milestone in the recovery process. Yet, this event is a stark reminder that cyber threats are an ongoing concern that will likely escalate. The ramifications of such attacks are profound: the loss of productivity, revenue, and—most critically—reputation, as client trust erodes due to potential data breaches. These consequences underscore the importance of a comprehensive approach to cybersecurity, extending beyond the immediate technical response to include broader operational and strategic considerations.

 

 

Reflecting on the cyber attack, it is evident that many law firms were caught unprepared and unable to access their systems or complete essential transactions. This incident highlights the critical need for continuous and robust cybersecurity measures. Law firms must regularly review and upgrade their digital security protocols, adapting them to the ever-evolving landscape of cyber threats. This approach is not merely about implementing security measures; firms must continuously evaluate and adapt to stay ahead of the constantly evolving cyber threats. The CTS incident serves as a pivotal learning experience, indicating that such attacks are not singular events but signs of potential ongoing challenges. Law firms need to proactively minimise the risk of cyber-attacks through regular updates to security practices, comprehensive cyber insurance coverage, and a forward-thinking stance on digital risk management. Embracing this proactive and adaptive approach is crucial for law firms to safeguard against the far-reaching impacts of future cyber disruptions.

This article is to help raise awareness to law firms on how they should continuously review their online presence and reliance upon cloud-based technologies. Criminals target law firms, particularly those that have a property division. Criminals want to try to gain access to data which may assist them in defrauding clients or the lawyers who represent them. The CTS cyber attack is a serious reminder of the constant and evolving nature of cyber threats. It underscored the importance of perpetual vigilance and the need for law firms to consistently update their cybersecurity protocols, invest in comprehensive cyber insurance, and adopt a proactive approach to digital risk management. As firms navigate the complex digital landscape, the lessons from this incident will be invaluable in fortifying their defences against future cyber threats.

 

This article is provided  for general information only. It is not intended to be and cannot be relied upon as legal advice or otherwise. If you would like to discuss any of the matters covered in this article, please contact us using the contact form or email us on reception@cnsolicitors.com

 

 


UK Mortgage | Legal Counsel Approved by Lenders

In the UK, a Loan is a way for most people, especially for office workers to buy a property. With rents in the UK going through the roof, more people are considering taking out a bank loan to purchase a property to have a stable place to live.

 

The most familiar procedure of purchasing a property is that once the budget has been confirmed and the offer has been accepted by the seller, the seller will need to appoint a property solicitor to handle the whole purchase process for them. 

 

However, it is not necessarily for the buyer to appoint a solicitor with their will. 

What is a Bank Panel? 

 

The buyer’s conveyancing must transfer both the deposit and the loan funds to the seller. 

 

When obtaining a loan to purchase a property in the UK, it is common practice to engage a property solicitor to represent both the bank, and the lender, and provide various legal documents. 

 

Therefore, it is crucial to instruct a trustworthy property solicitor for the lender’s benefit. 

This means the buyer must gain the Lender’s approval for their chosen property solicitor before proceeding. Failure to do so may result in the lending bank denying the loan application. 

 

To facilitate the choice of property buyers, the vast majority of UK banks will pre-screen law firms that they believe are qualified, reputable and can be confidently instructed to add to their list of Panels to work with. That being said, banks are usually only willing with solicitors who are on their panel. 

What can Property Solicitors do for Lenders? 

 

If the property is purchased using a mortgage, the buyer will need to provide the Lender with the property solicitor’s details and the Lender will then need to transmit the Mortgage Offer to the solicitor. 

 

Meanwhile, the solicitor is obliged to report to the Lender on relevant circumstances and changes regarding the buyer and the property, such as the results of the AML check on the buyer’s fund for the purchase of the property, and whether there has been a change in the price of the property. 

 

*AML check – Anti-money laundering checks are one of the customer due diligence measures required by regulated businesses to comply with money laundering regulations and prevent financial crime. 

 

All of this can potentially affect the amount the Lender ultimately lends to a buyer. 

 

Before handing over the property, the solicitor will submit a title deed requesting the loan funding following the lender’s drawdown regulations. 

So if the buyer doesn’t instruct a solicitor on the Bank Panel, will it still work? 

 

Although there is no requirement to instruct a solicitor on the bank’s Panel to buy a house in the UK. But if you don’t, the Lender will employ another solicitor on their Panel in addition to the solicitor employed by the buyer to look after the transaction. 

 

Then with the seller’s property solicitor, there will be a total of 3 solicitors involved in the property transaction and communication between the parties will take longer. 

 

At the same time, the Lender’s legal fees for appointing a solicitor are generally paid by the buyer, and if the buyer does not choose the solicitor on the Panel, the buyer will have to pay an additional amount for legal fees, so it is not recommended that you do so. 

Which banks are Chan Neill Solicitors on the Panel? 

 

Chan Neill Solicitors has been established for 20 years and has built up a good reputation and credibility among clients and various partner organisations as a professional legal institution worthy of trust. 

 

We are Panel members of over 60 banks and financial institutions in the UK, including Lloyds Bank, Barclays, HSBC, Metro Bank, Royal Bank of Scotland, Halifax and other smaller banks or financial institutions. 

As well as providing legal services to both the buyer and the bank at the time of the purchase, our property solicitors can take care of the formalities required after handover, which include: 

 

- Payment of Stamp Duty Land Tax ( SDLT) 

- Land Registry 

 

When the registration of the property is complete, the solicitor will forward the registered title to you to confirm that you own the property. The solicitor will also send a copy of the title deeds to your lender. 

 

If you are planning to purchase a property with a loan, you are welcome to contact Chan Neill Solicitors on Instagram, Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter or call us on 020 7253 7781. Our team of property solicitors have extensive experience in acting for both local and overseas buyers and will be able to help you on your journey to settling in your new home. 

 

 


Artificial Intellegence – a conveyancer’s friend or foe

Technology's influence has been reshaping traditional practices for generations. Conveyancing is no different and conveyancers are now having to come to terms with the integration of artificial intelligence (AI). AI is transforming conveyancer’s day to day working lives. It is changing how conveyancers obtain search results, conduct due diligence, ensure security and navigate regulatory complexities. However, whilst the use of AI can be used as a force to enhance the industry’s effectiveness, there will always be those who see opportunities to fraudulently manipulate technology and AI is certainly no exception.

 

The conventional process of gathering search results has often been hindered by delays and cumbersome data retrieval. AI is changing this narrative by swiftly scanning and sorting through large volumes of data. AI expedites the extraction of pertinent information, providing conveyancers with a comprehensive overview in a fraction of the time it used to take. This acceleration not only reduces waiting times but also allows for prompt decision-making, a crucial element in the time-sensitive world of property transactions. AI's integration into the realm of conveyancing is not only accelerating the acquisition of search results but also reshaping our approach to information retrieval.

Due diligence, a crucial phase of any property transaction, has traditionally involved laborious manual searches through extensive volumes of data. AI has revolutionised this process by rapidly scanning large datasets to reveal any point of note associated with a property, its owners, and its prospective owners. By automating this data intensive task, AI accelerates due diligence timelines and reduces the risk of crucial information ever being missed. Conveyancers can now offer clients a more efficient and comprehensive due diligence process, enhancing trust and the speed of transactions.

 

Navigating the intricate network of regulatory compliance and legislative changes is a challenge faced by all legal professionals, and particularly for those working within the everchanging frameworks of property related regulations and legislation. AI allows conveyancers to constantly monitor amendments, to keep pace with changing regulations and legal requirements. Conveyancers can rely on AI to stay up to date with the latest guidelines and legislation, ensuring that every transaction adheres to the highest standards of legality as well as ethical practice. This insight provided by AI offers conveyancers a sense of assurance that their transactions remain compliant in a constantly changing regulatory landscape.

 

The incorporation of AI into conveyancing is not just about expediting processes; it's about improving the entire experience for both conveyancers and clients. AI's speed in gathering search results, its predictive abilities in risk assessment, its ability to streamline due diligence, and its ability to help ensure regulatory compliance are helping the industry toward a future marked by efficiency and accuracy. As AI continues to evolve and integrate seamlessly into conveyancing practices, the industry is in a position to offer an even higher standard of service and assurance to those navigating the intricate world of property transactions.

 

Like many industries at this point in time, the advantages AI provides conveyancers must be met with caution. Whilst AI has emerged as a powerful tool with the potential to revolutionise the field of conveyancing, it also brings forth its own set of threats that must be carefully considered.

 

One concerning aspect is the emergence of AI-powered fraud schemes. As AI technology becomes more sophisticated, criminals will exploit it to create intricate and hard-to-detect fraudulent activities. AI-driven algorithms can generate fake documents, impersonate identities, and manipulate data, posing significant challenges to traditional fraud prevention methods.

 

The vulnerabilities in cybersecurity cannot be ignored. AI systems themselves can become targets of cyber attacks. If fraudsters manage to compromise AI algorithms or access crucial data, they can leverage the technology against the very systems meant to safeguard against fraud, potentially exposing sensitive client information.

 

Recently, fraudsters have been able to use public data leaks to use AI algorithms in order to comb through email accounts involved in leaks. The criminal’s algorithms will identify those accounts containing emails with key-words associated with property transactions. Once identified, the fraudsters will target said accounts, the accounts of property purchasers more often than not, with emails enticing purchasers to send funds to fake client accounts. Whilst clients may recognise that something is not quite right with the emails, the importance of personal relations is evident here. A client having full knowledge of their transaction, knowing that this may be a strange time to send funds, will prevent them from ever doing so.

 

Another critical consideration is the issue of human oversight. Although AI excels at processing vast amounts of data and recognising patterns quickly, it lacks the nuanced judgment and intuition inherent in an experienced conveyancer. Relying solely on AI systems for fraud prevention may lead to false positives, flagging legitimate transactions as fraudulent, or false negatives, overlooking genuine instances of fraud. AI algorithms learn from historical data, which can contain implicit biases. This can inadvertently lead to discriminatory practices, where certain individuals or properties may be unfairly targeted or excluded from transactions based on historical patterns.

Additionally, legal and ethical challenges come to light with the adoption of AI in fraud prevention. Determining accountability and liability for AI related fraud can be complex, raising questions about who bears responsibility when an AI system fails to prevent fraudulent activities is a fresh issue the industry does not have a definitive answer to.

 

To address these concerns, it is essential to strike a balance between implementing the advantages of AI and the significance of human involvement. Combining AI systems with human expertise and judgment can ultimately enhance the overall effectiveness of fraud prevention measures.

 

Looking to the future, there is of course a risk of overreliance on technology. The convenience and efficiency that AI brings might inadvertently lead professionals to become complacent in detecting potential fraud when they overly rely on AI systems to handle the task. Combining this with the use of AI by fraudsters themselves and there is certainly cause to be cautious of AI and its impact on the conveyancing process.

Legal work will always be an industry which requires a human touch. Clients rely on a conveyancers personal experience and person ability in the same way they rely on their skills in dealing with the law. Incorporating AI into the world of conveyancing has to be a conscious process which considers all advantages and disadvantages. As always, the client, their goals and their experience, will remain at the heart of all legal work. Conveyancing is no different.

 

 


Illegal entry into the UK can harm your chances of getting permanent residence or citizenship

 

On 20 July 2023 the Illegal Migration Act 2023 received Royal Assent. Under the new Act, migrants who entered the UK illegally after 7 March 2023 will be barred from re-entering the UK or gaining residence or citizenship, and the ban will also apply to their UK-born children. The UK government will have a duty to refuse to process any asylum claims they make and to return them to their home country or a safe third country where their asylum claims will be processed.

 

The purpose of the bill is to " prevent and deter illegal immigration, particularly through unsafe and illegal routes, by requiring the removal from the UK of certain persons who enter or arrive in the UK in breach of immigration controls" '.

 

There are exceptions to this ban, however, as illegal immigrants may be exempted if they can prove that they have come to the UK from "a country which complies with the United Nations Convention on Refugees and where their life and liberty are at risk". However, since most illegal immigrants enter the UK through EU countries such as France, none of which fulfil these conditions, the threshold for exemption is quite high.

 

The United Nations has warned that the Illegal Immigration Bill passed by the British Parliament is inconsistent with the country's obligations under international human rights and refugee law and sets a worrying precedent for the abrogation of asylum-related obligations, which could be followed by other countries, including in Europe, and which could have a negative impact on international refugees.

 

The professional immigration team at Chan Neill Solicitors can provide you with the most suitable immigration solution based on your background. If you require any assistance, kindly reach out to us.


How Can A Leaseholder Extend Their Lease?

There are two ways that a Leaseholder (Tenant) can extend their lease:

1) Privately Agreed (Informal) Route

2) Statutory (Formal) Route

 

Private (Informal) Route

The Tenant could approach their Freeholder (Landlord) to request whether the Landlord would be agreeable to negotiate a lease extension.   Although this private route could save time and money however, there is no obligation on the Landlord to respond or agree to extend the lease.

 

If in the unfortunate events that the negotiation discussion between the Landlord and Tenant come to an end without any successful conclusion then the Tenant could consider whether they are able to extend the lease under the Statutory Route.

 

It is important to note that privately agreed lease extension requires lender’s permission. Therefore, if there is a mortgage registered on the Tenant’s property then the Tenant must obtain the lender’s consent.

 

Statutory (Formal) Route

A Tenant can apply to extend their Lease by the Statutory Route provided that the Tenant is eligible (such as owned a long lease for the past two years).

 

The Tenant would need to ensure that they have their finances in place in order to commence the Statutory Route. This is because the Tenant would need to pay for the following:

  • Surveyor’s fees to value to a new lease and negotiations etc
  • a premium to the Landlord to extend the Lease (once a premium has been agreed)
  • Once the Tenant serves a notice to request for a new lease then the Tenant will be liable for the Landlord’s costs
  • Landlord’s fees to extend lease
  • Solicitors costs etc

 

The Statutory Route has strict timelines that the Tenant must comply with. If the Tenant fails to comply with the timescales then unfortunately the Tenant would have to wait 12 months before starting the Statutory Route again. There is no requirement for lenders consent under the statutory lease extension route.

 

Terms of the New Lease

Under the Statutory Rules, the Terms of the New Lease are as follows:

  • Peppercorn ground rent (£0 ground rent) for the whole of the term
  • 90 years extension plus the length of time left on the current lease
  • Terms must be the same except for minor modification and exclusions allowed by law.
  • Premium payable for the new lease

 

S42 Notice – Tenant’s request for a new lease

Before a Tenant can serve a S42 notice, the Tenant would need to identify who the competent Landlord is.  The Tenant should apply to the Land Registry to find out who owns the Freehold Property and check who they pay their service charges and ground rent to.

 

If a Tenant pays ground rent and or services charges to a management company then all parties (Landlord and Management Company as well as any other relevant person) should be served with a copy of the S42 Notice.

 

The S42 Notice must contain certain information in order for it to be valid.  The Tenant must give the Landlord at least two months to give their counter-notice.

 

The Tenant should ensure that the S42 notice is protected by way of registration against the competent Landlord’s Title and also of any intermediate Landlord.  Failing to protect the initial notice will not bind a purchase of any reversionary interest in the property and therefore, the Tenant will have to start the process again.

 

S45 Notice – Landlord’s Counter Notice

The Landlord must serve their counter-notice within the 2 months period.  The Counter-notice must state one of the following:

  • Agree to the Tenant’s right to a new lease and accept the terms and proposed or propose different terms
  • Reject to the Tenant’s right to a new lease and explain their reason for this.It would then be up to the Court to decide whether the Tenant has the right
  • Claim that the Landlord has the right to redevelop the land (appliable only in certain circumstances)

 

If the Landlord has served a Counter-notice then it would be down to the parties surveyors to negotiate on a premium.  If in the unfortunate event that an premium cannot be agreed after the first two moths of negations, then both parties can apply to the Tribunal for an independent decision to be made.  The application must be made within 6 months from the Landlord’s counter-notice.

 

Once a premium has been agreed then the parties legal representatives can negotiate on the terms of the lease.  There are strict timelines on when the new lease terms must be agreed and when a claim must be made to the Tribunal.

 

In the event that the Landlord fails to serve a counter-notice, then the Tenant has the right to apply to the Court to seek an order for the grant of the new lease (on the terms as set out in the S42 Notice). This application must be made within 6 month from the date in which the counter-notice was required to be served.

 

If you are thinking of extending your lease or have any queries, please contact us. Our experienced property solicitors and litigation team have dealt with different types of lease extension.

 

 

 


What buyers need to do after completion?

After picking up your keys and unpacking all your belongings, you’re probably thinking about all the little jobs you have to do now you’ve moved into your new home. Below are a number of tasks which we would recommend you deal with promptly.

Buildings insurance

It is likely to have been a requirement of your mortgage lender (if you have a mortgage) that you would take out building’s insurance on exchange of Contracts. It is therefore vital that you ensure buildings insurance cover is in place on completion. Even if you don’t have a mortgage, buildings insurance is still important as it will cover the costs of repairing damage to the structure of the property.

Meter readings

Unexpected energy costs are the last thing anyone needs just after moving into their new property. As such, it is important to take meter readings on the day you move in to ensure you’re only charged for the energy you use from the date you moved in, and that you’re not being charged for energy usage of the previous owner. If you are unsure, always check with your energy provider how to upload your meter readings.

Updating your address

Although it can be time consuming, updating your address as soon as possible is always best practice. Ensure you update your address anywhere this is held on file, be that your driving license, dental surgery, or any mail services you’re subscribed to.

Your Local Council

It is worth checking the website for your Local Council, as most have a helpful page confirming how you pay council tax, as well as other useful information such as the bin collection days for the property.

Utilities

You will also need to let the properties service providers know that you have moved in, so they are able to update their records. You will need to contact the suppliers of your gas, electricity and water and also contact a broadband provider as soon as possible, as it can take a number of weeks for internet service providers to visit the property to set up your internet, so the sooner you arrange this the better. If you intend on watching television, you will also need to purchase a TV Licence. This can be done online on the TV Licensing website.

Ground Rent/Service Charge

If you have purchased a Leasehold property, you should have been advised prior to completion of any requirements to pay ground rent and/or service charge. On completion, your solicitor will serve notice on the relevant parties to inform them you will be moving into the property. They will then likely be in touch shortly after completion to confirm the sums payable and where they are due to be paid. If you have not heard anything in relation to Service Charge/Ground Rent shortly after moving in, it may be worth double checking with your solicitor that the relevant notice has been served.

Chan Neill property solicitors understand that buying or selling a property can be a stressful time. Our team is well experienced and have stringent protocols in place to streamline the entire process efficiently, providing our clients with peace of mind. Across our team, we speak many languages including Mandarin and Cantonese, Gujarati, Russian, Portuguese, Korean and Spanish.

Chan Neill Solicitors is accredited under the The Law Society’s Conveyancing Scheme Qualification (CQS), which provides a recognition of our residential conveyancing standard and quality and is officially recognised by a range of mortgage lenders which grant us access to their residential mortgage lender panels.

If you have any enquiries regarding residential properties, commercial properties, buying or selling a property or properties owned by a limited company, please contact us. With access to our solicitors at two locations, one in City and one in Mayfair, we cover a very broad spectrum of varying clients needs.


Rights As A Tenant In A Private Rented Property

A tenancy agreement sets out the rights and responsibilities between the landlord and tenants. In the unfortunate event where an issue arises then the tenants should refer to the tenancy agreement. Tenants have additional rights which are not always set out in the tenancy agreement.  To give an example, the House in Multiple Occupation (HMO) licensing.

We have set out below the key points that tenants should be aware of when renting a property.

Additional fees 

The Tenant Fees Act came into force on 1st June 2019 and the centre of this rule is that it prevents landlords from charging tenants with extortionate fees. The landlords are allowed to charge the tenants rent, tenancy deposit, and or a holding deposit.

Under the Tenant Fees Act, landlords are no longer allowed to charge tenants the cost of their own references or police checks, general administration fees, or cleaning fee. Landlords who charge fees that fall outside of the Tenant Fees Act may be liable to pay a fine of £5,000 however if the landlord repeats the breach, then this could lead to a criminal charge or a fine of £30,000.

However, the landlord can charge certain fees provided that it is written into the tenancy agreement, these are set out below:

  1. Late Rent Fees

Landlords can charge fees for rent payments that are due over two weeks. The fees can be charged up to 3% plus the Bank of England base interest rate.

  1. Default Fees

This includes the tenant losing a key or damaging the property. The tenant can only be charged a reasonable amount as long as the evidence of the cost can be provided.

  1. Changes to Tenancy Fees

Landlords can charge up to £50 for making changes to the terms of the tenancy agreement. This can include changing a tenant’s name or allowing a pet.

Disrepair  

Under section 11 of the Landlord and Tenant Act 1985, landlords have the obligation to keep

the property in a habitable state for the tenants to reside in. This includes heating, hot water, access to power supply, water, etc.

These repair obligations cannot be changed by any terms written into the tenancy agreement and landlords cannot charge tenants for any repairs that fall under their mandatory obligations.

However, tenants would usually be responsible for the maintenance of the property. This includes the general upkeep such as changing the lights, unclogging sinks, gardening, and cleaning.

Should a tenant experience any disrepair issues such as mould, no heating, no hot water, etc then they should first report this to the landlord immediately.

If the landlord refuses to carry out the repair works then the tenant has various options available to them such as reporting to the local council and or issuing proceedings against the landlord.

House in Multiple Occupation License

The Housing Act regulations ruled that an HMO license is required for any house or flat that is occupied by five or more people who are not all related and live in the property as their main home. Landlords are therefore obliged to apply for a license application at the local council if the property needs licensing.

Ignoring the rules would result in the landlords paying a heavy price. There would be a risk of being prosecuted by the council and if found guilty landlords could get a criminal record, and be fined an unlimited amount. Alternatively, tenants can apply for a Rent Repayment Order and the landlord may have to repay up to 12 months of rental income.

Deposit

Deposits were collected as part of the renting process and landlords are obliged to pay the tenants’ deposits into a deposit protection scheme. This deposit protection was introduced on 6 April 2007 as part of the Housing Act 2004 and these protection schemes offer a free service to help resolve deposit disputes between the landlords and tenants.

When a deposit was not protected under a scheme and no further information was provided by the landlord, tenants can apply to the County Court for an order that the landlord returns the deposit back or protect it under one of the tenancy deposit protection schemes.

There are rules on what costs can be deducted from the deposit. And the landlord cannot, in general, charge for the costs of maintaining the wear and tear of the property. The usual costs can include deductions for (1) damage to the property and missing or broken items, (2) cleaning fees, and (3) unpaid rent or bills.

If tenants disagree with how the deposit is returned, or the tenant does not agree with some of the costs that landlords have taken out of it, tenants must ask the landlord for a breakdown of the specific costs which were taken out of the deposit.

In the case where an agreement could not be reached between the landlord and tenant, the parties can propose to use the free alternative dispute resolution service offered by the tenancy deposit scheme.

Under the alternative dispute resolution service, the parties are required to accept the decision made and will not be able to apply the decision to the courts. If on the contrary the landlord or tenant does not agree to use the dispute resolution service, then the dispute will usually go to the County Court.

If you require assistance in relation to private renting disputes, or you would like to learn more about the rights and obligations shared between landlords and tenants in private properties, please feel free to contact us and we can discuss and advise on your best way forward.

 


What do conveyancing solicitors do as the vendor’s solicitor?

A property transaction involves the buyer's solicitor and the vendor's solicitor, regardless a property is a second hand property, or new built or an off plan unit.  We have talked about what a buyer's conveyancing solicitor do acting on behalf of the buyer previously. In today's article, we are focused on the vendor's solicitor's duties.

What do conveyancing solicitors do as the vendor’s solicitor?

The primary role of the seller's solicitor is to provide the information given to them about the property to the buyer's solicitor and support the seller in obtaining any additional information required. These are the main tasks a selling solicitor undertakes:

Draft contracts – Your solicitor drafts the initial legal contract with protocol forms (Property Information Form (TA6), Fixtures and Fittings Form (TA10), Leasehold Information Form (TA7) [Leasehold property only]) to be sent across to the buyer's solicitor.

Responding to enquiries – following the receipt of the draft contract, legal title and your property documents (as above) the sellers solicitor responds to any questions (also known as raising enquiries) the buyers solicitor may have (this is where you'll find out if you are missing documents which can cause delays to your sale). Documents which might be required from the buyers solicitor if relevant like planning permissions & Building Control for any extensions or under pinning, gas safety certificate, electrical certificate, FENSA certificates, asbestos removal certificates and EWS1.

Investigating issues – for some enquiries that can't be easily evidenced, the seller's solicitor needs to complete further investigation to try and satisfy them. The challenge here is if there is limited or no information to provide.

Exchange contracts – once the buyer's solicitor has satisfied their enquiries they agree with the seller to exchange contracts making the buyer legally bound to buy the property. Although buyers can still pull out, this can be financially costly (seller are entitle to rescind the contract and forfeit the deposit ad request any interest accordingly).

Completion – on the day of completion the seller's solicitor receives the money for the sale, discharges the mortgage (if required), pays the estate agent, deducts their fee and then sends the net sale proceeds to you.

Post completion – following completion the seller's solicitor receives the DS1 discharge documents and, when leasehold, settles the sellers liabilities for ground rent and service charges.

Chan Neill property solicitors understand that buying or selling a property can be a stressful time. Our team is well experienced and have stringent protocols in place to streamline the entire process efficiently, providing our clients with peace of mind. Across our team, we speak many languages including  Mandarin and Cantonese, Gujarati, Russian, Portuguese, Korean and Spanish.

Chan Neill Solicitors is accredited under the The Law Society’s Conveyancing Scheme Qualification (CQS), which provides a recognition of our residential conveyancing standard and quality and is officially recognised by a range of mortgage lenders which grant us access to their residential mortgage lender panels.

If you have any enquiries regarding residential properties, commercial properties, buying or selling a property or properties owned by a limited company, please contact us. With access to our solicitors at two locations, one in City and one in Mayfair, we cover a very broad spectrum of varying clients needs.


How do I evict a tenant to regain possession of my property?

If there are tenants in your property and you need to evict because of rent arrears, nuisance or for personal reasons to move back in to the Property or to sell it. Chan Neill Solicitors are able to assist to regain possession of your property from preparing the relevant notice, and if necessary, issue possession proceedings, provide representation at court and instructing bailiffs.

 

The Procedure of the Eviction Process

Firstly, we will need to know what type of tenancy that you have with your tenant.  In most cases, the tenancy is as assured shorthold tenancies.  We would check whether the tenant is on a fixed term tenancy or periodic (rolling month to month)

 

There is a three stage process to evicting tenants:

 

  • Notice
  • Issue court proceedings to obtain an order for possession
  • Bailiffs

 

1) Which Notice: Section 21 or Section 8 notice?

 

Subject to the type of tenancy that you have with your tenant and the reason you want to evict your tenant will depend upon which notice would be most suitable for your personal circumstances.

 

Whilst these notices are independent of each other and served for separate reasons, they provide the same result- we recover your property back.

 

Section 21 notice

 

Section 21 is a no fault basis whereby you are not compelled to provide reasons for eviction.  A Section 21 notice is usually served when the tenancy is coming to the end of the fixed term or if the fixed term has expired (periodic tenancy).

 

There are a number of requirements that you must comply with first before a valid Section 21 notice can be served on the tenants, these are:

 

  • An Energy Performance Certificate (EPC)
  • How to Rent Booklet, this guide must be given to a tenant at the start of any new tenancy
  • A Gas Safety Certificate

 

If a deposit was taken, then this must be protected within the requirement period. Failing to protect the deposit on time (within 30 days of receipt) will invalid the Section 21 notice.

 

A Section 21 cannot be served because the tenant has raised any housing disrepair issue.

 

The notice period for a Section 21 is 2 months.

 

Section 8 notice

 

A Section 8 notice is used where the tenant has breached the terms of the tenancy.  The notice must state the grounds that you are seeking possession of the property.  Landlords usually use the Section 8 procedure where a tenant is in rental arrears.

 

The notice period for Section 8 can be between 2 weeks to two months, depending on the terms of the tenancy / grounds.

 

2) Issuing Proceedings to obtain Possession order

 

In the event that the Tenant does not vacate the property after receipt of the notice, the next stage is to issue possession proceedings.

 

We can prepare the possession claim form on your behalf and issue it at the Court.  Depending on which grounds you are seeking possession, we can then determine whether we can apply for possession via the accelerated route or the standard route for you.

 

3) BAILIFFS

 

If we are successful in obtaining an Order for Possession and the tenants still refuses to vacate the property, we can seek recovery of the property for you with the help of bailiffs.

 

Should you wish to discuss any of the matters talked about above or if you wish to look to instruct us, please contact us. Our team speak English, Mandarin, Cantonese, Spanish, Portuguese, Russian etc. Our offices are in Mayfair and the city should you wish to see us in person.