August 2012 Archive

Considerations for unmarried couples purchasing property

The number of couples who buy property together without marrying or planning to marry is increasing each year. Consequently, the number of cases that involve a dispute over how a property is owned is also on the rise. A jointly owned property that is owned by a cohabiting couple, even if they have cohabited for a long time, is not treated in the same way as a matrimonial home would be in a divorce.

Damage caused by tree roots

In the recent case of Robbins v Bexley London Borough Council [2012] EWHC 2257 (ICC) the landowner was ordered to pay £150,000 in compensation for damage caused by tree roots to a property that lay at least 33 metres from the tree. If you have trees on your property then you may be aware that you need to prune them regularly to avoid them causing damage to neighbouring structures but you also need to consider the effect that the roots may be having.

Forfeiture of residential long leases

When seeking to recover arrears of service charge, the simplest method is to issue county court proceedings; in around 80% of cases, nothing further is needed. Once a county court judgment (CCJ) is obtained, the arrears are paid either by the defaulting tenant or, more usually, by their mortgage company. However, in cases where the tenant and/or their mortgagee fails to pay, the ultimate sanction is forfeiture.

Leaseholder's right of refusal

Those living in a block of residential flats may or may not be aware that they generally have a right to purchase the freehold should it come up for sale. Part 1 of the Landlord and Tenant Act 1987 contains statutory provisions setting out when leaseholders may purchase the freehold; this is something that any freeholder wishing to sell must bear in mind.

Terminating a commercial oral tenancy

A number of difficulties can arise where the tenancy of commercial premises has not been recorded properly in writing. Usually these types of tenancies will form into periodic period tenancies and the length of the period will be determined by the frequency of the rent payments. If the agreement is for rent of ‘X’ amount a year payable monthly then a yearly periodic tenancy would have been created. However, if the rent is agreed at ‘X’ amount per month then a monthly periodic tenancy will have been created.

Criminal offence to squat in a residential building

The statutory instrument which enacts Section 144 of the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act 2012 has now been made. This means that from 1 September 2012 it will be a criminal offence to squat in a residential building. Anyone squatting in a residential building at that date, even if they entered before the 1 September 2012, will be committing a criminal offence if they originally entered without permission.

General damages in civil cases to increase by 10%

The Court of Appeal recently confirmed in the case of Simmons v Castle that general damages in certain types of civil cases will increase by 10% where judgment is given after 2013. The court hopes that this fixed increase and a message to judges that guidelines should be adhered to as closely as possible will give further certainty to parties and it is hoped that it will also assist settlement negotiations.
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