Landlords need to be aware – Plans to abolish Section 21 evictions

The government intend to abolish section 21 of the Housing Act 1988 (also known as ‘no fault’ repossessions).

What is a section 21 notice?

A section 21 notice allows a landlord to evict a tenant from the property without providing an explanation.

A tenant may not have caused the landlord any problems, however, a landlord can serve a section 21 notice on the tenant during a periodic tenancy (no fixed end-date) or at the end of a fixed term tenancy (a written agreement with a fixed end-date). A landlord must provide at least two months’ notice.

A landlord may want to remove a tenant from a property for many reasons, such as renovating the property, sale of the property or the landlord may wish to occupy the property.

The National Landlords Association (NLA) say that landlords should be able to use a Section 8 possession notice to evict a tenant who has broken the terms of their tenancy, for example by not paying rent or causing damage to the property.

This usually involves the landlord paying money to take the matter to court, if the tenant refuses to leave the property.

NLA say that landlords have been forced to use section 21 notices’ because they had ‘no confidence’ in courts to deal with a possession claim (breach of tenancy) quickly.

Will the proposed changes effect landlords?

If the changes are implemented, landlords will have to provide a concrete, evidenced-based reason already specified in law, in order to bring a tenancy to an end.

The government insist that landlords will be able to repossess their property for different reasons, specified in law, and in genuine cases, however the changes will protect responsible tenants from unfair evictions and unethical behaviour.

Shelter, a charity which helps people struggling with bad housing or homelessness, said the proposals would “transform lives”.

If you are a landlord and you would like to be notified if and when any of these changes come in to force, please do not hesitate to contact Gemma Eastham, Commercial Property Solicitor, at MBH Solicitors who will be pleased to assist:

www.wigansolicitors.com Tel: 01942 206060 Address: 26 Bridgeman Terrace, Wigan WN1 1TD.

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Family courts ‘running up a down escalator’ due to increase in cases

In recent years, particularly since 2016 onwards, the family Courts in England and Wales have seen a sudden surge in private law childcare matters. Sir Andrew McFarlane (The President of the Family Division of the High Court) compared the process of the overloaded Family courts to “running up a down escalator”.

Recent reports tell us that the result of such an increased demand in applications means that the Courts are becoming strained and overburdened as their time is being stretched to its maximum in order to hear more cases. This is leading to some lengthy delays which can be very frustrating for those involved in proceedings.

After a recent review of the Family Court system, it was found that in most cases it would be more beneficial for families to avoid an application to the Court altogether and settle issues outside of Court. Reports suggest that in the region of 25-33% of family law cases do not involve safeguarding issues, such as domestic abuse, and applications can simply be as a result of a dispute between the parents. Further, the outcome of a case may not necessarily be the most desirable for the parties involved and a better more flexible agreement could have been formed through other dispute resolution methods, such as mediation. This is because only a limited amount of the Court’s time can be afforded to any one case. The advantage of out of Court resolutions such as mediation is that any arrangements can be more flexible and will often offer a better solution while avoiding any resentment that can occur from Court proceedings. The Court will always say that they seek to focus attention on the parents to be able to work together in the interests of their children and that an application to the Court should always be a last resort.

For more information regarding mediation or the Court process in relation to children matters, do not hesitate to contact our experienced family team at McCarthy Bennett Holland who will be pleased to assist.

We offer 30 minutes free initial advice appointments and also offer payment plans. 

Please contact our Head of the Family Department, Gillian Lavelle if you wish to discuss any of the above further.

www.wigansolicitors.com Tel: 01942 206060 Address: 26 Bridgeman Terrace, Wigan WN1 1TD Twitter: @MBHSolicitors

 

I’ve been ordered to attend a Separated Parents Information Programme – What Does This Mean?

A Separated Parents Information Programme (commonly known as a SPIP) is a course which parents can be ordered to attend as part of family Court proceedings regarding their children.

When this is ordered by a Court, it is free to attend and usually lasts in the region of about 4 hours. In some areas courses can even be attended at the weekends so this can be arranged around work commitments. Both parents will be ordered to attend the course. However, you do not have to attend the same session as the other parent, meaning you are free to fully engage with the course material separately.

The purpose of the course is not to tell anyone about how to be a parent but is intended help parents understand how to put their children first, even when they are separating and in dispute with the other parent. The course intends to provide guidance to parents as how to manage any dispute and difficulties when they arise so decisions can be made by parents jointly and in the best interests of the children.

Recent guidance and research tells us that when parents are not able to manage conflict this can lead to parental alienation for a child. This can make a child feel unloved by one parent, mean that they have limited contact or make them feel like they have to choose between their parents. This can lead to issues for the child as they grow older with personal relationships, mental health and their education.

The purpose of the SPIP is to provide helpful guidance to parents to prevent the children from being at any risk of any such harm following the breakdown of their parents’ relationship and to allow parents to minimise conflict, co-parent and to ensure that their children retain their own voice to express their wishes and feelings in the two separate households.

For more information regarding the SPIP please visit https://www.cafcass.gov.uk/grown-ups/parents-and-carers/divorce-and-separation/separated-parents-information-programme/ or contact our experienced family team at McCarthy Bennett Holland who will be pleased to assist.

We offer 30 minutes free initial advice appointments and also offer payment plans. 

Please do not hesitate to contact our family solicitors Gillian Lavelle or Kim Busby if you wish to discuss any of the above further.

www.wigansolicitors.com Tel: 01942 206060 Address: 26 Bridgeman Terrace, Wigan WN1 1TD Twitter: @MBHSolicitors

 

LEASEHOLD AXED FOR ALL NEW HOUSES

The Government following a lengthy review have concluded that all new build houses will now be sold as Freehold to tackle the unfair leasehold practices that have been prevalent in the housing market within the last few years.

Ground rents on all new leases will be reduced to zero preventing Leaseholders being stuck with unfair rent reviews and will therefore prevent future home owners from being trapped with houses which cannot be sold as mortgage lenders will not accept the rent reviews or having to incur considerable expense to have the Lease changed.

All new houses will be sold on a Freehold basis unless there are exceptional circumstances and there will be immediate action to ban Help to Buys being used to support Leasehold houses.

The Government have also indicated that there will be a time limit of 15 working days and a maximum fee of £200.00 to obtain information from a Freeholder and/or Managing Agents in providing Leaseholders with information needed to sell their homes. This will hopefully speed up the selling/buying process on all leasehold property.

Buyers which have been incorrectly sold a Leasehold property will also be able to obtain their freehold outright at no extra cost. However, there has been no further guidelines in relation to how this will be.

Most older Leasehold properties are on a long lease, many being 999 year. However, newer properties can be on shorter leases of 250 or 99 years and have unfair rent reviews that can mean that the rent can be doubled every few years.  Hopefully the Government’s announcement will bring an end to this unfair practice.

If this has affected you, contact Sammy-Jo Woodward, solicitor or Caroline Rooks / John Petrie, Partners at MBH Solicitors, to discuss your conveyancing needs at:

www.wigansolicitors.com Tel: 01942 206060 Address: 26 Bridgeman Terrace, Wigan WN1 1TD

Twitter: @MBHSolicitors

What Happens to my Digital Information When I Die?

In an age of increasing digital progression, it is more important than ever to ensure that you have a Will. Whereas once upon a time, your loved ones would have accessed to photo albums and video tapes, many of our treasured memories are now stored electronically.

The recent case of Rachel Thompson highlights this important area. Her husband sadly died without making a Will. He was aged just 39 and left behind Rachel and their young daughter. Her husband, like most of us now, was keen on taking photographs and videos of the family using his mobile phone. When he died, Rachel did not have access to his passwords meaning that she was unable to access treasured memories of over 4500 photos and 900 videos of the family. After 3 years of pursuing legal action, Rachel has now won her case with Apple for this information to be released to her.

So what can we do to protect our loved ones from a similar fate?

Firstly, it is important to make a Will. This will mean you are able to appoint a trusted person to deal with your estate upon death. When making your Will, ensure you make your legal representative aware of any information you store digitally e.g. on your mobile phone, computer or cloud. You should ensure that you collect and collate as much information regarding your online accounts as possible, including user names and passwords. These will not form part of your Will which will become a public document upon your death but will be stored separately. You must ensure that these are regularly kept up to date. You should ensure that your passwords are stored securely and discreetly and ensure that it is not in breach of any terms of service with the chosen provider. 

You may also wish to consider preparing a letter of wishes to go with your Will explaining how you would like your digital assets to be dealt with on your death and who you wish to have access.

We are sure that the law will develop in time as the importance of digital assets become more and more recognised. However, until a more unified process is put into effect, you need to ensure that you have a well worded Will which reflects you wishes and feelings not only in relation to your physical assets, but also your digital ones.

To arrange an appointment with our private client team, please contact Paul Aynsley or Kim Busby on 01942 206060.

www.wigansolicitors.com Tel: 01942 206060 Address: 26 Bridgeman Terrace, Wigan WN1 1TD

Twitter: @MBHSolicitors

We are Dementia Friends and Age Friendly

Here at McCarthy Bennett Holland we want to ensure all our clients are looked after and feel comfortable and welcomed at all stages through their matter.

Our staff have recently undertaken training with Dementia Friends for the second time to ensure all our staff have a greater understanding of what it is like to live with dementia and are aware as to how to help those who are living with dementia. We want to ensure that we are able to assist people to continue to live independently and to raise awareness to others as to how they can help.

Wigan Borough has previously been named the most dementia friendly town in the UK and we want to ensure that this reputation continues in our local area; supporting local people with local businesses.

We have also been named as the first Age Friendly Solicitors in Wigan town centre. This means that we are able to provide a downstairs seat and meeting room to those who need it. We can make special adaptations to the documents we prepare, including large print. In our private client team specialising in Wills, Lasting Powers of Attorney and Probate matters, we are also able to arrange home visits to ensure our clients with additional needs have all the access they need to specialist legal advice.

If you need legal advice and you are living with dementia, or know someone who is, or if you or any family member requires any special adaptation to make the legal process smoother, we are here to support you and make it as simple and straightforward as possible. Please do not hesitate to contact our friendly and approachable team on to discuss your needs.

To arrange an appointment with our private client team, please contact Paul Aynsley or Kim Busby on 01942 206060.

www.wigansolicitors.com Tel: 01942 206060 Address: 26 Bridgeman Terrace, Wigan WN1 1TD

Twitter: @MBHSolicitors

Civil Partnership: a way to reduce the risks of just ‘living together’ ?

This month, legislation came into force which allows heterosexual (‘straight’) couples to enter into a civil partnership rather than marriage if they so wish. Until now, civil partnership has only been open to same sex couples.  As a result of a landmark case, this injustice was deemed by the Supreme Court last year to be discriminatory and it was always hoped that this ruling from the highest Court in England and Wales would persuade the Government to amend the Civil Partnerships Act (2004) to open it up to heterosexual couples. This has now happened.

What is the difference between living together (cohabiting), civil partnership and marriage? In the simplest of terms, the last two provide a legal formality around a relationship; a civil partnership is a legal contract entered into by both parties which carries all of the same benefits and obligations as marriage without the religious ceremony element.  Consequently, it is being viewed by some as a more ‘modern’, ‘business-like’ recognition of a relationship whilst marriage is deemed more traditional, steeped in culture and religion. From a legal perspective, there is no obvious difference between the two but there are significant benefits and obligations to having your relationship status legally recognised.

 

On the other hand, cohabitation has been the only alternative for heterosexual couples who have not necessarily wanted a religious endorsement of their relationship through marriage. The downside of course is that cohabiting couples do not necessarily benefit from the advantages of a legally recognised relationship whether this is during the happy times of living together, if they separate or indeed when one partner dies.  Some couples therefore enter into cohabitation agreements which is a contract drafted by solicitors that can regulate what should happen if they separate.  However, this does not protect them if one partner dies unexpectedly.

What are the issues that may drive couples to think about moving from cohabitation to civil partnership? A recent article in Wigan Today http://www.wigantoday.net/news/people/couple-could-have-first-heterosexual-civil-partnership-in-wigan-1-9761336) reported that a heterosexual couple from Wigan might be the first in the Borough to take advantage of the new civil partnership legislation. Having been together for many years, they have amassed significant joint assets and want to make sure that each is taken care of if their relationship is brought to an end one way or another.  For many, what happens to money, possessions and pensions following the death of one cohabiting partner is a real concern as the surviving cohabitee won’t necessarily ‘be the beneficiary of the estate’ unlike if they were married. Other issues which can be affected by the status of your relationship include: entitlement to occupy rented housing, caring for children, tax allowances and welfare benefits.

If you are thinking about entering into a civil partnership and need advice on any aspect including procedure, benefits and obligations, please contact us.

We offer 30 minutes free initial advice appointments and also offer payment plans. 

Please do not hesitate to contact our family solicitors Gillian Lavelle or Kim Busby if you wish to discuss any of the above further.

www.wigansolicitors.com Tel: 01942 206060 Address: 26 Bridgeman Terrace, Wigan WN1 1TD Twitter: @MBHSolicitors