Council mistake on price of flat leads to legal proceedings against homeowner

Chadwell Street property litigation
A London homeowner has recently been told to pay more than £350,000 to the Council or face losing his home. The Council mistakenly valued the flat he purchased as a one bed rather than a two bed flat. But who is to blame? Mr Zomparelli bought his two bed flat from Islington Borough Council for £340,000 in 2014 under the Right to Buy scheme which al...
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In a spot of Big Bother - squatters and your rights

squatters
Tonight is the final episode of this year's Celebrity Big Brother, and once again we'll hear those infamous words - "who goes? You decide". But is it all that easy to evict when faced with 'real' squatters?
 
The annual finale of Celebrity Big Brother is imminent; this year, we have witnessed various large personalities pass through those infamous eye-adorned doors. And, as always, 80% of the housemates have been evicted as part of a UK-wide public voting system, leaving us with 7 for this series’ climax. The notorious catchphrase rings true - who goes? You decide.

Does this liberty of voting and evicting, however, translate when faced with real-world squatters in non-residential properties?

Squatters and Their Rights

Up until recently, squatting in England and Wales was generally viewed as a civil, rather than criminal matter. In September 2012, a new piece of legislation made it a criminal offence to trespass in residential properties with the intention of living there. However, the legislation only covers residential properties, so what do you do if squatters gain access to a commercial or non-residential property?

Squatting in non-residential buildings is still regarded as a civil matter and resolution usually means resorting to the civil courts. In essence – it is not a criminal offence for someone to enter a non-residential property without the owner’s consent or authority.

The good news for property owners is that it is still not easy for a trespasser to acquire ownership of a property, or “squatter’s rights” as per common parlance. A squatter can only gain title to a property if the squatter has excluded the world at large from the property, including the owner, for a period of 10 years (12 years if dealing with unregistered land).

Squatters and Your Rights

As mentioned above, squatting in a non-residential property still isn’t looked upon as a criminal offence. The police take can action on your behalf if squatters commit other crimes when entering or residing in your property. These can include:

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Capital allowances Seminar - Monday 3 October

capitalallowances2
You are invited to a seminar on Capital Allowances and Tax Planning for Landlords on Monday 3 October, in collaboration with The Bailey Group.
Pinney Talfourd are pleased to announce that Andrew Shepherd of The Bailey Group will be presenting a seminar at our Brentwood office in October. We would be delighted if you could join us.

Capital Allowances and Tax Planning for Landlords

An overview of how to make a successful claim for commercial property owners. How to mitigate the effect of proposed changes to buy-to-let Landlords tax relief. Andrew has worked with some of our clients already and has assisted them by finding huge tax savings.
 
Capital Allowances are a niche tax specialism and many general accountancy firms will not have the in-depth knowledge, expertise, or experience and frequently overlook a wide range of commercial property fixture and fitting detail that can be pooled to make an often sizeable legitimate claim for tax relief.
 
In addition to this niche service The Bailey Group are looking at new ways in which Landlords of residential property may hold their investment property to combat the proposed changes to mortgage interest relief.  Likewise, there are new but proven ways in which Landlords can arrange their affairs that reliably reduce income tax,  mitigate CGT and stamp duty, whilst at the same time significantly reducing inheritance tax, all insofar as the law and HMRC practice allow.
 

Monday 3rd October

Seminar and Q&As 5 - 6pm
Followed by drinks and networking 6 - 6.30pm

Pinney Talfourd, New North House, 78 Ongar Road, Brentwood, CM15 9BB

 

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Legal 500 UK recommends dispute resolution team

Legal 500 UK recommends dispute resolution team
Pinney Talfourd's property litigation, commercial litigation and debt recovery teams are recommended by Legal 500 UK. 

Legal 500 UK announced their 2016 rankings in September and we are delighted to announce that our Dispute Resolution Department has been recommended in the following rankings:

Stephen Eccles heads up the Department and is recommended as a “leading individual” and ‘knowledgeable and efficient’. Legal 500 said the debt recovery team was “responsive and commercial”.

Legal 500 highlighted a number of notable cases including:

  • Court of Appeal case involving a procurement contract and in particular breach of contract and the Unfair Contract Terms Act 1977.
  • Advising a well known retailer in relation to planning, development and break clauses relating to their warehouse facility. Value circa £10million.
  • Advising in relation to the development of premises as a hotel including advice upon rescission, breach of an agreement to lease, damages and specific performance.

The Legal 500 rankings are carefully selected after rigorous assessment and provide a guide to the top legal providers across the UK.

More information

If you would like a member of our team to advise you on any business or personal dispute please contact our Dispute Resolution Department on 01708 229444 (Upminster or Hornchurch), 01277 211755 (Brentwood office) or 01702 418433 (Leigh-on-Sea). 

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Is an E-Signature legally binding?

computer
Many statutory requirements for written documents to be signed can be satisfied through digital signatures states The Law Society.
The Law Society has now issued a practice note, aimed at increasing confidence in the use of e-signatures in day-to-day legal work.

At present many solicitors are unhappy about using digital signatures because of uncertainty as to whether they can be relied upon in the event of a party disputing the document.

A joint working party of The Law Society and The City of London Law Society has been working on the issue.

European regulation has established a legal framework on electronic ID and trust services (the eIDAS Regulation) which came into force on 1st July 2016. Although Brexit could see this regulation not being enforced directly, it will be enforced until such time as we exit and we would expect the regulation to be repeated in English law.

The Law Society’s practice note sets out reasoned arguments why electronic signatures should be accepted as satisfying statutory requirements. The practice note recites court of appeal judgments which have commented on the issue.

It is often very frustrating at the conclusion of lengthy commercial negotiations to have a delay of two, three or four days while hard copies of original signed documents are exchanged by the parties, in the past these delays have been reduced by the use of telephone completions, and solicitors undertakings, but we would expect to see a much greater use of digital signatures going forward.

Critically, any client or solicitor practice using digital signatures will need to ensure they have the very best cyber security. A pessimist would say that the use of digital signatures only increases the possibilities of fraudulent transaction occurring.

What Pinney Talfourd says

In our opinion the best form of safe and secure commercial transaction is one where a client is able to meet the solicitor face to face and sign original documents that are used to effect transactions. This provides security for all concerned.

However, at Pinney Talfourd we recognise that there are occasions when the use of digital signatures with appropriate safeguards might well be appropriate, for example when a client is abroad and physically unable to sign.

More information

Please contact Stephen Eccles in our Dispute Resolution Department for more advice on safe use on this subject and online fraud on 01708 229444.


This article was written by Stephen Eccles, Head of our Dispute Resolution Department at Pinney Talfourd Solicitors. The contents of this article are for the purposes of general awareness only. They do not purport to constitute legal or professional advice. Specific legal advice should be taken on each individual matter. This article is based on the law as at July 2016.



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Landlords - at your tenant's service?

propertyspotlight
What should a landlord do if faced with a tenant not paying his or her service charges?

The landlord may well think that if the tenant is not prepared to pay then why should he or she receive the service? However, landlords are advised to think again if considering cutting off services to their tenants.

A recent High Court case, Winchester Park Ltd v Sehayak, decided that a landlord was not entitled to shut down a lift service in a building because the tenant had failed to pay his service charges.

The tenant was a leaseholder in a fairly upmarket block of flats. A dispute had arisen over the service charges and this had rumbled on for some time. The tenant was refusing to pay the service charges. The landlord thought it would be a great wheeze to “convince” the tenant to pay by shutting down the lifts which serviced the tenant’s flat. The landlord clearly believed that the prospect of climbing the stairs would be sufficient to persuade the tenant to pay.

However, the tenant had other ideas. So, eschewing the health benefits of the increased exercise he would receive from using the stairs, the tenant applied to Court for an injunction. The injunction was dealt with prior to the hearing because the landlord restored the service, but the Court still needed to decide whether the landlord was entitled to take that action in settling the issue of who paid the costs. The Court found against the landlord and determined that the landlord was wrong to stop providing the lift service.

The law in this area is complicated and even if your lease makes the provision of services conditional on payment of service charges by the tenant you may still be legally required to provide services even if the tenant doesn’t pay. It is important for landlords to seek legal advice before taking any step to cut off services to your tenant because you could end up with a significant costs order against you.


More information

The Dispute Resolution Team at Pinney Talfourd Solicitors in Essex can assist with all aspects of property litigation work. If you have any queries relating to a property litigation please contact any member of my team on 01708 229 444 and we will be happy to help. Alternatively, click here to find out more about our services.
 

The contents of this article are for the purposes of general awareness only. They do not purport to constitute legal or professional advice. Specific legal advice should be taken on each individual matter.
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Squatters in Romford, Havering

travellers
In the past week, the property litigation team at Pinney Talfourd have been instructed by two clients whose commercial premises have been squatted.
 
Damian Pitts and Stephen Eccles have recently been instructed by two clients to recover land from squatters or unlawful occupiers. In each case, we gave urgent advice and had the technical competence and resources to immediately institute possession proceedings in Romford County Court, to obtain summary Possession Orders.

The law requires that in respect of commercial premises a Court Order be obtained. Within 24 hours we were able to obtain all necessary information, attend the Court and issue the proceedings, obtaining a hearing date. Our trusted agents were then able to personally serve the squatters.

Case One - A Court Order

In the first case, the squatters left voluntarily on service of the Court Order and our client has now physically barred entry to the premises with concrete blocks.

Case Two - Calling in the Sheriffs

In the second case, the squatters (who were occupying premises in Central Romford), did not vacate voluntarily and Sheriffs were instructed to obtain possession.

Swift action is needed if you have squatters 

Often squatters once evicted find new premises to squat. Landlords should physically secure any vacant properties they own, as there is clearly a local problem with squatters at present. Reports of more squatters have already been made.

If you, or anyone you know, have commercial premises which are squatted, we can provide immediate remedy saving you stress and money.

Please contact our Commercial Property Litigation team for more information on 01708 229444.


This article was written by Stephen Eccles, Head of our Dispute Resolution Department at Pinney Talfourd Solicitors. The contents of this article are for the purposes of general awareness only. They do not purport to constitute legal or professional advice. Specific legal advice should be taken on each individual matter. This article is based on the law as at March 2016.

Photo courtesy of Camping Links on Flickr

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