Guide to the Conveyancing process for the SALE of a property

Conveyancing guide on the PURCHASE of a Freehold or Leasehold property.

Private landlords: 10 key legal obligations required for all private landlords

The impact of Coronavirus on Landlords and Tenants for residential properties

CORONAVIRUS (COVID-19) IMPACT ON LANDLORDS & TENANTS (Residential property)

Aston Brooke Solicitors is a reputable law firm based in Harrow, Middlesex. We have been serving our valued customers for over a decade by providing high quality, bespoke legal services such as Conveyancing, Litigation, Immigration and Wills & Probate and more. In light of the current COVID-19 outbreak, we are proud to be at the forefront of providing our customers with up to date news and advice on regulations regarding COVID-19. We will update our information regularly as per instructions from the Government.

This article has been prepared in light of the Coronavirus Act 2020 to address the most common queries we have received from Landlords and Tenants for residential properties. The Act has addressed the issues arisen due to the impact of Covid-19 on the landlord and tenant relationship and their obligations under their tenancy agreements.

Can tenants stop paying rent?

No, tenants are required to continue to pay rent as the per the tenancy agreement. If a tenant is unable to make payment they must contact and inform their landlords immediately. A landlord may enter into a temporary agreement to accept lower rent subject to the condition that the tenant will make payment of the difference on a later date.

Can a landlord issue a notice of possession?

Yes, a landlord can issue a notice for possession and claim rent arrears. However, the Coronavirus Act 2020 has extended the notice period to three months. The extended notice period is only applicable until 30 September 2020.

Upon expiry of the three month notice the Landlord can file a claim for possession. But, due to the pandemic the courts have decided to suspend all possession hearing for a period of a 90 days commencing 27 March 2020. This is primarily to prevent unnecessary movement of people.

Does a tenant have to give possession of the property upon expiry of the notice?

Yes, a landlord can issue a notice for possession and claim rent arrears. However, the Coronavirus Act 2020 has extended the notice period to three months. The extended notice period is only applicable until 30 September 2020. Upon expiry of the three month notice the Landlord can file a claim for possession. But, due to the pandemic the courts have decided to suspend all possession hearing for a period of a 90 days commencing 27 March 2020. This is primarily to prevent unnecessary movement of people.

Are landlords required to comply with their obligation of repair and maintenance of the property?

Yes. Landlords are required to comply with their obligation however both the landlord and tenant are to take a common sense approach making arrangements. If the landlord is unable to access the property due to covid-19 restrictions, they are to document all their attempts of resolution.

Remortgaging during the Coronavirus: Is there any benefit in me remortgaging now?

Can I remortgage my property during the Coronavirus lockdown?

Aston Brooke Solicitors is a reputable law firm based in Harrow, Middlesex. We have been serving our valued customers for over a decade by providing high quality, bespoke legal services such as Conveyancing, Litigation, Immigration and Wills & Probate and more. In light of the current COVID-19 outbreak, we are proud to be at the forefront of providing our customers with up to date news and advice on regulations regarding COVID-19. We will update our information regularly as per instructions from the Government.

Yes, you can change your mortgage product to a new deal with your existing lender or a new lender. At the end of this process you will not be moving home and the new mortgage will apply to your existing property. You will have to instruct conveyancing solicitors to act on both your behalf and that of the lender.

Is there any benefit in me remortgaging now?

Recently, there has been an influx of Remortgage applications as homeowners take the opportunity to benefit from the low interest rates currently in place. One of the main reasons that one would have to remortgage their property is to obtain a better deal and ensure that they are in the best financial position by reducing the cost of their home loan – a low interest rate ensures this.

I want to avoid early exit fees on my mortgage. What are my options?

You can secure a rate to use months later when the exit fees on your current mortgage no longer apply. A lot of lenders allow you to secure a rate with them 3 to 6 months in advance. This would however mean that if there is a better deal two months down the line you may miss out on that as you will have committed yourself to a deal (by paying the initial fees, usually non refundable,) that will be starting at the end of your existing mortgage term. The pros and cons will therefore have to be weighed in this regard.

For more information on all of the above and our fees for acting on the same please do not hesitate in contacting our property department on 0203 475 4321.

Instructing Property Solicitors during the Coronavirus Lockdown: What should I do?

My offer has been accepted/ I have accepted an offer on a property, can I instruct a Property Lawyer during the Coronavirus lockdown?

Aston Brooke Solicitors is a reputable law firm based in Harrow, Middlesex. We have been serving our valued customers for over a decade by providing high quality, bespoke legal services such as Conveyancing, Litigation, Immigration and Wills & Probate and more. In light of the current COVID-19 outbreak, we are proud to be at the forefront of providing our customers with up to date news and advice on regulations regarding COVID-19. We will update our information regularly as per instructions from the Government.

Yes, we are still contactable by phone and email and are equipped to give the same service as we would if we were working out of our offices. We are able to provide quotes and instruction forms over the phone and email.

Once we have dealt with the initial instruction, is it worth starting the transaction?

Taking everything into consideration, yes it would be worth it. On average, a Purchase transaction takes between 8 to 12 weeks from the receipt of draft papers to complete, therefore there is quite a bit of work that has to go in before you can begin to think of the physical move. Please refer to our “Moving Home during Coronavirus” and “Advice for Decontamination” write ups for some points to consider if you are considering moving home during this time.

Would I be able to put a hold on the transaction before I am legally bound by the contract if I am waiting on further guidance from the government on the Coronavirus lockdown?

With the agreement of the other party and their Solicitor, yes. We can progress the transaction all the way to the point of exchange, and pause at that point; this way once both parties are ready to proceed we can almost immediately exchange. If you have any queries on the above, please contact the property team on 0203 475 4321.

The impact of Coronavirus on commercial leases: Landlords and Tenants need to know

The impact of Coronavirus on Commercial Leases: What Landlords and Tenants need to know on rental payments

Aston Brooke Solicitors is a reputable law firm based in Harrow, Middlesex. We have been serving our valued customers for over a decade by providing high quality, bespoke legal services such as Conveyancing, Litigation, Immigration and Wills & Probate and more. In light of the current coronavirus outbreak, we are proud to be at the forefront of providing our customers with up to date news and advice on regulations regarding coronavirus. We will update our information regularly as per instructions from the Government.

The Government’s decision to impose a lockdown meant tenants occupying certain commercial premises would have had to close the doors to their business. This also meant Landlords would not be able to rely on rental incomes from their properties and as such, would have to put measures in place to ensure its continuance. On 23rd March 2020 the UK Government announced protections for commercial tenants. https://www.gov.uk/govern-ment/news/extra-protection-for-businesses-with-ban-on-evictions-for-commercial-tenants-who-miss-rent-payments

The new legislation (Coronavirus Act 2020) has the following effect on Commercial Leases:

The Landlord’s ability to take possession (forfeiture) of the property for Tenants who are unable to pay their rents has been suspended. As of 26 March 2020 no commercial Tenant can be forced from their business premises if they do not pay their rent. Existing possession orders have been suspended until after 30th June 2020 at the earliest, which is when the provision will be reviewed.

The suspension of rent cannot be considered a payment holiday and the Tenant will be liable for the entire rent at some stage regardless of their circumstances. It would therefore be wise for a Tenant to approach the Landlord for a payment plan to spread the rental arrears over the future period/Lease term.

Taking the above into account, the Landlord and Tenant can take some of the following practical steps to try and ensure that they are in the best position moving forward:

It is unlikely that the current Coronavirus crisis and the recent change in the Government’s emphasis to Stay Alert, Control the Virus and Save Lives, will release the Landlord or the Tenant from their obligations. Hence it is vital that expert advice be sought and any legal actions are considered carefully.

Should you wish to discuss any of the above please do not hesitate to contact our property team on 0203 475 4321.

Protect deposit received from tenants in relation to an Assured Shorthold Tenancy (‘AST’)

The Tenancy Protection Scheme came into affect on 06 April 2007. This scheme introduced the requirement for landlords to protect deposit received from tenants in relation to an Assured Shorthold Tenancy (‘AST’). Initially it only applied to ASTs created on or after 15 October 2015. But from 1 October 2018, the Deregulation Act 2015 made it mandatory for all ASTs deposits, including those entered into before 15 October 2015, to be protected.

The importance of protecting AST deposits is at times overlooked by landlords. As such we often find landlords approaching us for advice in relation to the consequences of failure to comply and their tenant’s right to bring a claim.

This article provides a digested summary of the law in response to the above.

What constitutes to a deposit?

Section 212(2) Housing Act 2004 defines deposits as security held as protection to discharge any liability that may arise in connection to the tenancy and to ensure that the tenant performs their obligations under the agreement.

What are the requirements?

An AST deposit must be protected by one of the following within 30 days of receipt:

Once the deposit has been protected, the landlord must provide the tenant a copy of:

Both of these are provided by the deposit protection providers.

What are the consequences of failing to comply?

Should the tenant bring a claim, the court may order the landlord to repay the deposit in addition to a penalty of one to three times the deposit sum. This is a discretionary penalty and will depend on the facts of the case.

Furthermore, affective from 1 October 2018, in absence of proof of compliance, the Deregulation Act 2015 restricts landlord’s rights of obtaining possession by means of section 21 Housing Act 1988 notice.

Can a tenant bring a claim if the deposit is protected after the 30 day period?

Late protection of the deposit will not restrict the tenant’s right to bring a claim. The same applies to failure to provide the prescribed information.

Why comply after 30 days?

A landlord will not be able to apply for possession under Section 21 Housing Act 1988 unless the deposit has been protected and the prescribed information has been provided to the tenant. As a landlord, it is a necessity to comply with this requirement at all stages and ensure evidence of compliance is obtained from the tenant.

Other benefits:

The DPS provides a cost-effective dispute resolution service for both parties. It provides the landlord an opportunity to make payment without the need for court proceedings within 10 working days of the tenant’s request.

Although this will not prevent the tenant from bringing a claim, should the tenant fail to comply, non-compliance with the dispute resolution service may be taken into consideration by the court when exercising their description to award compensation.

Contributor details:

Please do not hesitate to contact the property litigation team on 02034754321 for any queries that you have in relation to any Landlord and Tenant matters.

This article does not present a detailed statement of the Law and does not constitute as legal advice. This is a summary only and legal advice should always be sought on an individual case basis.

What is an LPA and why is it important to have one?

“What is an LPA and why is it important to have one?

A lasting power of attorney (known as an LPA) is a legal document that lets you (the ‘donor’) appoint one or more people (known as ‘attorneys’) to help you make decisions or to make decisions on your behalf. This enables you to have more control over what may happen to you and your affairs should you suffer an accident or illness and can no longer make your own decisions due to a lack of mental capacity.

There are two types of LPA;

It can only be used when you are unable to make your own decisions.

It can be used as soon as it’s registered, with your permission.

You can choose one or both types to suit your personal circumstances. In order to make an LPA, you must be over the age of 18 and have mental capacity at the time. You do not need to live in the UK or be a British citizen to make an LPA.

Here at Aston Brooke, we understand that ‘we’ as a society don’t always like to think of the inevitable, but there are so many reasons why it is important to protect your loved ones and most importantly yourself when you are no longer able to do so.

Unfortunately, as we grow older, or become incapable of making decisions we can become more vulnerable. Recent research by the Financial Conduct Authority has found that a third of people aged 75 or over have been targeted by fraudulent scammers. A further study showed that 22% of people aged 55 or over had also been affected by the same issue.

For this reason alone, it is so important for you to have protection in place for your health, welfare, property, and financial affairs to prevent such things from happening.

You can of course choose to make your own LPA by completing the relevant forms however, this can be a complicated and confusing process. By getting in touch, our highly skilled Solicitors strive to provide you with outstanding service and will assist you along the way to ensure that the process is smooth sailing for you, your family, and your future.”

Why do I need Independent Legal Advice in relation to a conveyancing matter

You may have come across a situation where you have been asked to obtain ‘Independent Legal Advice’ in relation to your conveyancing matter. In fact, in most cases, a lender will advise you to seek Independent Legal Advice regarding your transaction when it becomes necessary to do so. This typically occurs where for example:

If you are buying a property with a mortgage or re-mortgaging in situations as above, it is likely your lender will deem the independent legal advice as mandatory before you can complete.

Independent Legal Advice is usually required from a solicitor who is not directly involved or instructed on your behalf in the transaction at hand. It is important to understand the significance of receiving Independent Legal Advice as this may impact your decision on whether or not to proceed. You should be aware that it is not the role of the solicitor giving the Independent Legal Advice to make a decision for you, but rather to inform you of the potential hazards and risks which may be involved – the ultimate decision rests with the buyer.

The advice should explain to you the general basis of the documentation and the consequences which may arise in the result of a default on your loan/ mortgage. Please note the Solicitor is unable to determine the probability of these consequences arising but should provide you with a brief overview of the factors to consider.

It is important to understand that once you have signed the documentation confirming you have received and understood the advice, this means you are unable to later argue that you did not understand your obligations under the mortgage. Therefore, it is crucial that if anything is unclear, you seek clarification from your Solicitor before signing.

For more information or to seek a fee quote in relation to your Independent Legal Advice matter, you can contact Aston Brooke Solicitors on 0203 475 4321 or email info@astonbrooke.co.uk