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Know your rights

The Government has issued a new consultation paper which could indicate the end of Assured Shorthold Tenancies (“ASTs”). The paper asks for views on the impact of removing ASTs and whether they should be ended without tenant fault, whether the...

Business tenancies - are you at risk?

As Brexit rumbles on, the UK’s financial position remains in the spotlight. In particular, the commercial property sector faces its own challenges and for both commercial landlords and tenants alike, the continued uncertainty will no doubt cause some...

Major works: procedures in Mixed Use Developments

When carrying out major works, there are specific procedures that must be followed for residential property, that do not need to be followed for commercial property. Landlords must ensure they follow the correct procedure for residential property otherwise...

Questions for developers to consider in mixed use developments

When carrying out mixed use developments, there are a handful of points that a developer might want to consider at the outset (to include but not limited to): Who is going to provide the services? Landlord, management company or managing agent? Will the...

The Digital Economy Act

At the end of 2017, the Digital Economy Act 2017 came into force, impacting upon all land connected with electronic communication networks. The Act itself considers the rights of service operators, such as BT or EE, over all land that holds, for example,...

You're too noisy!

Are you concerned that your business is causing a nuisance which could lead to a complaint or action being taken against you? With considerable pressure for new housing in the region, several of our clients, and businesses in general, have raised...

Ground rent increases causing issues for leaseholders

Recently, there has been a wide range of media coverage concerning ground rent clauses within leases and, more specifically, concerning how the ground rent increases over the term of that lease.    Ground rent is usually an annual sum payable by...

Estate agent referral fee ban?

In addition to the ministry’s proposal on dual representation last year, there were also talks about banning referral fees from estate agents in an attempt to improve the conveyancing process.  The idea behind the ban was prompted by concerns...

Dual representation off the table for conveyancing transactions

The Law Gazette recently reported that the idea of dual representation is now off the table following a report by the Ministry of Housing, Communities & Local Government.   Last year, the idea of a single conveyancer acting for both the seller and...

Gifted deposits to get on the property ladder

With an increasing property market, more and more buyers appear to be receiving financial gifts from friends and relatives to help them get on the property ladder. It is imperative that your solicitor is made aware of gifted deposits as early as possible. ...

Motive seems irrelevant when it comes to landlords and the courts

Business tenants can be refused a new lease if their landlord wants to redevelop the property.  Keith Songhurst examines a recent case that appears to strengthen the hand of the landlord. Business tenants are usually entitled to renew their leases...

Beware of your repairs!

When a commercial property lease is granted, a landlord will want the tenant to take on the responsibility of repairs – a task that can be done in various ways.   If an entire building is being let then the lease will usually specify that the...

The signs and procedures guide for landlords

With 16,502 companies becoming insolvent in 2016, it comes as no surprise that landlords want clarification on how to protect themselves, their property and what to do if their tenant becomes insolvent. What do I look out for if I have suspicions my tenant...

JCT 2016 building contract changes

The 2016 JCT building contracts have been released over the past few months and the updated Standard Building Contract suite was released on 22 September 2016. This suite has now replaced the 2011 Standard Building Contracts and all subsequent amendments....

Law Update - Rent review provisions in NHS funded leases

NHS practitioners should bear in mind that when they lease a GP surgery any rent review has to be subject to the approval of the District Valuer.  There is little point, therefore, in seeking approval of the terms of your lease with the NHS unless it...

Breaking bad!

Commercial leases often give the tenant a ‘break right’ to end the lease early on service of a written notice. The tenant’s right to break is often dependant on the tenant meeting various conditions set out in the lease, one of the...

SDLT - Consultation

HMRC are currently consulting on making proposed changes to the filing and payment process relating to SDLT. The proposed changes are aimed at saving time and money for taxpayers as well as HMRC. Possible changes to the current SDLT process could be the...

What is overage and how can you enforce it?

Demand for new housing and increased development has lead to an increase in overage agreements. Owners of land with the benefit of valuable planning permission or land which has potential for future development need to be aware of “Claw Back” or...

The likely impact of Brexit on the commercial property sector

In the immediate aftermath of the vote to leave, we have seen shares in Barratt Homes and Taylor Wimpey (to name but two) fall by over 20%, and the pound down 9.4% against the Euro and 9.8% against the dollar.  The markets have seen the gains of 2016...

How to prevent third parties acquiring rights over your hand

The Court of Appeal recently considered in the case of Winterburn v Bennett whether a property owner can prevent third parties from acquiring rights of way over their land by way of prescription by simply placing notices/signs on the property. Third...

Vat issues and transfer of a going concern

When acquiring commercial property it is really important to identify at the outset whether or not your transaction is a transfer of a going concern (“TOGC”).  It is so important because if you get it wrong you could be liable to pay Vat on...

Tide turns for commercial property landlords

A property lawyer with Essex law firm Birkett Long, says the tide has turned and it is a landlords’ market when it comes to renting commercial property. Solicitor Simon Green says it is a direct result of the warming economy but warns business owners...

Essex playing fields under threat

Across the county there are a number of playing fields under threat.  The reasons are varied and include local authority spending cuts; disputes about land ownership and access to facilities; proposals for housing and other developments and declining...

Have you exercised an option to break your lease? Are you entitled to a refund of rent?

This month the Supreme Court released its highly anticipated decision in the case of Marks and Spencer plc v BNP Paribas Securities Trust Company (Jersey) Ltd and another [2015] UKSC 72. In this case the Supreme Court considered whether a tenant who...

The importance of vacant possession in property transactions

Vacant possession is an important point to consider when developing land, acquiring it or when letting it out. When a developer embarks on a new development he must be sure that he will obtain vacant possession, and if such an important point is not...

Forfeiture - update

Most leases, particularly commercial leases, will contain a clause that gives the landlord a right to bring the lease to an end under certain circumstances. This is known as forfeiture and it can be a rather daunting subject. Relief from forfeiture is a...

Get your kit off - my land!

David Rayner, Commercial Real Estate partner at Birkett Long comments on a case that has tickled his fancy, concerning when chattels – items of personal property that are moveable - can become part of the land. In real estate, questions can often...

The end of peaceful re-entry?

The right of forfeiture is a remedy currently available to a landlord when their tenant fails to pay rent or breaches a covenant in the lease.  The landlord can either take formal court proceedings for breach of covenant or by take some other...

Due diligence for development

To safeguard their investment, developers should before embarking on any acquisition of a development site ensure good and marketable title is acquired by instructing their solicitor to carry out extensive Due Diligence. Enquiries Generally solicitors...

Zero carbon homes policy scrapped

An unexpected announcement from the new Conservative Government sees the target for zero  carbon homes scrapped. The 2016 policy, and the accompanying Allowable Solutions carbon offsetting scheme, has been dropped and is to be replaced by the...

Is Essex feeling stable and confident?

Most involved in construction are hoping for a period of stability to be able to plan for and build the housing and commercial premises that the county and the economy require.  The Queen’s speech outlined the Government’s intention to...

Global fashion brand manufacturer opens premises in Essex

Birkett Long acted for Impressions Labels on their opening of a new site in Braintree; a matter introduced to us by Invest Essex. For a full account please visit Invest Essex's article here . ...

"Coasting" schools and academies

The education and adoption bill has been published, with Education Secretary, Nicky Morgan, saying that it will “sweep away bureaucratic and legal loopholes” that previously prevented schools from being improved.  The main provisions of...

Introducing Justin Stock

Partner, Commercial Real Estate team, based at Birkett Long's Chelmsford office "I am delighted to have the opportunity to join the commercial real estate team of such a pre-eminent firm in the region, recognised by...

Where's my bank loan?

With the economy strengthening and confidence returning, many businesses are now looking for finance or re-financing deals.  It is important to remember that even after the basic facility has been approved by the lender, there will be some way to go...

Passing on the family farm - do rising values make it easier or more difficult?

Birkett Long has a long established agricultural practice looking after generations of farming families in Essex and Suffolk and the question of succession is something that crosses our desks on a regular basis. With reasonable arable land in Essex and...

Commercial real estate big hitter joins Birkett Long

Essex law firm Birkett Long has pulled off a coup by recruiting new partner Justin Stock to its Chelmsford commercial real estate team. Mr Stock, 50, is Essex-born and well known in the Chelmsford area for his work specialising in commercial real estate. ...

Regulations could affect landlords and tenants of commercial property

Last year the Government consulted on its proposals to enforce a minimum energy requirement for commercial and residential lettings and in April 2015 issued a response to that consultation as well as draft regulations on the topic.  Although these...

Property guarantees - taking more than a pound of flesh?

Many directors and owners of companies will have been asked, at some point, to provide a guarantee for their company to a potential landlord.  This is particularly the case for new or small companies, but has become increasingly prevalent with some...

Will you have an issue letting your commercial property after 1 April 2018?

The government last year consulted on its proposals to enforce a minimum energy requirement for commercial and residential lettings and this month issued a response to that consultation as well as draft regulations on the topic. Although these regulations...

Promoted solicitor's praise for legal firm

Historic, forward-thinking and community minded  – that’s the verdict of solicitor Amanda Timcke of Essex law firm Birkett Long, which has just promoted her to Associate. The 35-year-old, from Suffolk, who works from the Chelmsford office...

Essex businesses well placed for future growth with confidence rising, says report

Essex businesses have put in another solid performance over the last 12 months, driven by a particularly buoyant Property & Construction sector, with a significant rise in employment underlining increased confidence levels across the county, according to...

Landlords - beware of compensation claims

One little known element of the Agricultural Tenancies Act 1995 is that tenants of Farm Business Tenancies are, in certain circumstances, entitled to claim compensation in respect of improvements they have made to the leased property. Perhaps even more...

Dilapidations - tips for tenants when moving premises

The natural tendency when a business moves is to focus on the new premises.  However, when a lease comes to an end a tenant will usually face a claim from their landlord for the cost of repairs and redecoration necessary to put the property into the...

Think early - think property

You may be moving your business, or just moving your business premises into a pension scheme and granting a lease back to the operating company, but the earlier you think about what you need for the business to operate properly from those premises, the...

Colchester - a great place to buy commercial property

Colchester industrial property is proving a great long-term investment without the risk of the boom and bust of the residential property market, says a legal expert in the town. Melanie Bache is head of commercial real estate at law firm Birkett Long, and...

The rights of grandparents

As far as family law is concerned, under the Children Act 1989, grandparents are grouped into the category of “any other person”.  As a result, where arrangements about the care of a grandchild cannot be agreed, grandparents must apply to...

School's out for summer

You’re browsing through a holiday brochure, deciding where to go for that hard-earned break.  The kids will have finished their exams for the year, and it would be good to spend some time together.  Where could you take them for that...

Mel Bache becomes a Partner

Essex law firm Birkett Long has promoted one of its solicitors to partner, bringing the total amount of partners in the firm to 21. Melanie Bache, 33, who works in the Colchester office, joined the firm in June 2008 after qualifying as a solicitor and...

The headache of a hold over lease

It is in the best interests of both landlord and tenant to ensure that a new lease is in place to take effect from the date of termination of the old lease.  This will avoid problems which can arise where the tenant remains in occupation after that date...

Our commitment to agriculture

Our firm has acted for families over several generations, but we also welcome new clients looking for specialist advice.  The following gives a flavour of the legal advice our team provides on farming and landowning matters: The implications of the...

Here we go again campers! CAP reform

Back in 2010 the European Commission published proposals for reform of the Common Agricultural Policy.  In December 2013 the Council of EU Agriculture Ministers formally adopted regulations for the reformed CAP as well as transitional rules for 2014. ...

Property matters!

Every business operates out of a property – whether a spare bedroom or enormous sites scattered across the globe.  However, for perfectly understandable reasons, those running many businesses concentrate on the business and overlook the premises...

Commercial Rent Arrears Recovery - An End to Distress?

The remedy of distress has long been a powerful and effective weapon in a landlord’s arsenal for recovering rent arrears from commercial tenants.  It allows a landlord to enter a tenant’s premises, seize goods and then, having given notice,...

Key property provisions of an academy conversion

The property aspects of an academy conversion can be more complicated than you may expect.  There are a number of reasons for this.  No matter whether the property occupied by the school is freehold /leasehold or registered/unregistered there needs...

Sustainable shouldn't make businesses feel green!

While it is now clear that the UK must do more to create its own energy, there is no consensus as to how and where this energy should be produced.  Despite news that MS Power Projects Ltd is to build south-Essex’s first major solar farm in...

Are you aware of your roots?

It has generally been thought that landowners will not be liable for damage caused to neighbouring properties by the roots of their trees unless they are aware of the possibility that such damage is being caused and fail to act.  However, in the recent...

Chancel repair liability - are you liable?

Since the case of Aston Cantlow PCC v Wallbank, there has been significant concern about protecting purchasers from Chancel Repair Liability (‘CRL’) mainly due to the level of liability which arose in that case – approximately...

Insure? Or in God we trust?

For some commercial property owners and occupiers this might be the stark choice they have to face when the agreement between the Government and the Association of British Insurers (ABI), setting out a Statement of Principles on flood risk insurance, runs...

Gas Safe

You may have experience as a plumber or fitter but the question is, are you allowed to connect water and gas pipes to a boiler? Common sense might suggest that a plumber or pipe fitter has the necessary skills to fit pipes whether they carry gas or...

Planning changes come into force

The Town and Country Planning (General Permitted Development) (Amendment) (England) Order 2013 (SI 2013/1101) (GPD(A)O 2013) came into force on 30 May 2013.  It increases permitted development thresholds for householder extensions, non-domestic...

Break clauses in healthcare leases - avoid the traps

Many present day healthcare leases contain a “break clause” which gives the tenant the right to terminate the lease before the end of its term. Landlords will often include conditions attaching to the break clause such as: The rent has been...

Get off my land!

The value of agricultural land continues to soar.  Therefore, protecting land boundaries has never been more important.  This trend seems set to continue with expectations that the global population will double by 2050, causing further demands for...

Holiday lets - victory for the Revenue...for now

In the last newsletter, I wrote about the case of Pawson deceased v HMRC.  You may recall that the First-Tier Tribunal found for the taxpayer, and therefore against the Revenue, when deciding as to whether Business Property Relief (BPR) would be...

Land registration - dont wait!

Registration of property at the Land Registry was introduced by the Land Registration Act 1925 and, gradually since then, titles to properties throughout England and Wales have become registered.  It has been a slow process with registration becoming...

How green is your valley?

“With potential areas of interest ranging from contaminated land to renewable energy – via waste and landfill - the construction sector is at the heart of the drive to clean-up contamination and pollution, reduce greenhouse gas emissions and...

Just hot air?

If your premises have air conditioning or climate control, be aware of a change in the law from 1 January 2015.  From that date, the use of reclaimed or recycled refrigerant gas, R22, to top up existing air conditioning systems, will become...

Make sure holiday lets are a business

In these difficult economic times, our farming clients are often looking for ways to diversify their businesses. Many farms have cottages that used to house farm workers and now stand empty.  The cottages may be in idyllic surroundings and are often a...

VAT and listed buildings

In the last budget it was announced that the zero rating of VAT on building works to certain listed buildings was being removed, effective 1 October 2012.  There were, however, some transitional arrangements which have now been slightly altered so that...

Environmental Tax - The Treasury Splits Hairs

As the Environment Agency publishes details of the first companies to be fined under the Carbon Reduction Commitment (CRC) Energy Efficiency Scheme Rules, the Treasury has been explaining the criteria by which it decides whether a tax will be classified as...

To keep or not to keep? That is the question!

Most commercial leases contain a clause requiring the tenant to return the property to the landlord in good condition, whether on a full repairing basis or subject to a schedule of condition.  Although tenants should comply with ongoing requirements...

Water, water, everywhere

The availability – or possible lack of it – of flood risk insurance is something that will have been causing home owners and those who run businesses some concern, says David Rayner, a partner in the Commercial Real Estate Team at Birkett Long,...

What threats do climate change pose to land owners and occupiers?

The increase in flooding, both globally and on a local scale, highlights the impact of climate change. We will all have seen recent devastating flooding across vast swathes of Australia, covering an area the size of France and Germany, and 2007 saw similar...

Your Business Property Doesn't Have to Cost the Earth

Now that we are half way through the year, we can identify the “big themes” for commercial premises in 2012, suggests David Rayner, partner in Birkett Long’s Commercial Real Estate Team. From the perspective of both landlords/investors and...