Landlords May Escape Criminal Prosecution

Residential freeholders of leasehold properties are to escape certain criminal prosecutions if the Leasehold and Freehold Reform Bill that was introduced yesterday comes into force. All criminal sanctions will be removed in respect of service charge accounts format and supporting document inspection rights.

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Residential Conveyancing is Up

The triple increase in property prices, number of transactions and the amount of properties on the market has been welcomed by residential conveyancing solicitors in London.

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Construction Contracts Drop

The fall in the number of construction contracts has been evidenced by a 25% insolvency increase in building firms since the pandemic.

Escalating inflation, delays in significant infrastructure projects, a drop in the construction of new homes and the cost increments of materials are the chief culprits here.

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Insolvencies Rising

Creditors’ voluntary liquidations are up on pre-pandemic levels as are compulsory liquidations as customer numbers drop off and costs increase.

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Commercial Leases

A large commercial property company in the West End of London has reported its tenants are generating sales in all sectors at a pace far in excess of pre-pandemic conditions. It has noticed a significant increase in lettings.

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Divorce includes Pension

Recent family court cases have confirmed that it pays to make a claim for at least a 50% share of the breadwinner’s pension in divorce proceedings. This is irrespective of whether it is the husband or the wife who is making the claim. Up to half of the pension could be awarded where there are circumstances effecting the future earning potential of the spouse e.g. illness.

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Property Boost in London – Residential & Commercial

Flat sales in London are up nearly a quarter compared to pre-pandemic conditions and house sales are showing a smaller yet still significant increase. In prime central London renters are being forced to pay more as there are fewer deals on offer, with particular demand in up to two bed properties. Suburban rents have increased even more so.

New leases and renewals are being reported by some of the commercial property mega corporations with rents holding firm even though foot fall remains slightly subdued due to hybrid working. Recent builds especially are of interest.

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Unfair Dismissal and Redundancy

Unfair dismissal and redundancy pay will increase from the 6 April 2023:-

The maximum amount of “a week’s pay” for the purpose of calculating a redundancy payment or for various awards including the basic or additional award of compensation for unfair dismissal will increase from £571 to £643.

The limit on the amount of the compensatory award for unfair dismissal will increase from £93,878 to £105,707.

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Landlord and Tenant

The First Tier Tribunal (Property Chamber) (FTT) has the jurisdiction to resolve service charge reasonableness disputes such as apportionment and that any agreements on this and other service charge questions that might have been agreed to in the lease are void for FTT challenge purposes, was held by the Supreme Court recently.

To arrive at this decision the Court had to examine section 27A(6) of the Landlord and Tenant Act 1985:-

27A Liability to pay service charges: jurisdiction

(1) An application may be made to the appropriate tribunal for a determination whether a service charge is payable and, if it is, as to—

(a) the person by whom it is payable,

(b) the person to whom it is payable,

(c) the amount which is payable,

(d) the date at or by which it is payable, and

(e) the manner in which it is payable.

(2) Subsection (1) applies whether or not any payment has been made.

(3) An application may also be made to the appropriate tribunal for a determination whether, if costs were incurred for services, repairs, maintenance, improvements, insurance or management of any specified description, a service charge would be payable for the costs and, if it would, as to—

(a) the person by whom it would be payable,

(b) the person to whom it would be payable,

(c) the amount which would be payable,

(d) the date at or by which it would be payable, and

(e) the manner in which it would be payable.

(4) No application under subsection (1) or (3) may be made in respect of a matter which—

(a) has been agreed or admitted by the tenant,

(b) has been, or is to be, referred to arbitration pursuant to a post-dispute arbitration agreement to which the tenant is a party,

(c) has been the subject of determination by a court, or

(d) has been the subject of determination by an arbitral tribunal pursuant to a post-dispute arbitration agreement.

(5) But the tenant is not to be taken to have agreed or admitted any matter by reason only of having made any payment.

(6) An agreement by the tenant of a dwelling (other than a post-dispute arbitration agreement) is void in so far as it purports to provide for a determination—

(a) in a particular manner, or

(b) on particular evidence,

of any question which may be the subject of an application under subsection (1) or (3).

(7) The jurisdiction conferred on the appropriate tribunal in respect of any matter by virtue of this section is in addition to any jurisdiction of a court in respect of the matter.

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