Protect your land and property from fraudsters

Property fraud is on the increase as fraudsters are using sophisticated tactics and targeting properties by pretending to be you so that they can try and sell or mortgage your property and pocket the proceeds.

Your property is likely to be the most valuable asset you own and it is important therefore to protect it against the risk of fraud.

The Land Registry advise that you are more at risk in the following circumstances:

  • your identity has been stolen
  • your property is rented out
  • you live overseas
  • your property is empty
  • your property is mortgage free
  • your property is unregistered If your property is not currently registered with the Land Registry, you are able to apply for title to the property to be registered voluntarily.  The Land Registry charge a discounted fee for voluntary registrations and our Conveyancing Team at MBH will be able to assist you with this – please telephone us for a quotation. The Land Registry also offers a Property Alert Service which is completely free of charge. Since September 2009, HM Land Registry has prevented 254 fraudulent applications being registered, representing properties valued in excess of £117m – please click on the following link to sign up to the Land Registry’s Property Alert Service:-With the Alert Service you can:
  • https://www.gov.uk/guidance/property-alert
  • Once your property is registered, it is advisable to keep your contact details up to date and this can include providing an email address or an address abroad.  This is particularly important for properties which you do not live in.
  • Your property should be registered if you bought it or mortgaged it from 1998 however, if you are unsure, the Land Registry will be able to confirm whether or not your property is registered with them.  If your property is registered at the Land Registry and you are a victim of property fraud where you suffer financial loss, you will be compensated through the Land Registry indemnity scheme.
  • monitor a property (provided it is registered with HM Land Registry)
  • monitor the property of a relative; you don’t have to own a property to set up an alert
  • choose up to 10 properties to monitor

You will receive email alerts when there is certain activity on the properties you are monitoring. If you receive an alert about an activity that seems suspicious you should take immediate action and follow the steps recommended by the Land Registry as quickly as possible. Not all alert emails will mean fraudulent activity. If you do not think that the alert email is regarding any suspicious activity, you do not need to do anything.

Another option, should you feel that your property is particularly at risk, is to apply for a restriction to be registered against the title to your property. The restriction will prevent the Land Registry registering a sale or mortgage on your property unless a conveyance / solicitor certifies that the application was made by you.

For further information or advice on protecting your property, please contact our Conveyancing Team at MBH by telephone on 01942 206060 or by email to mbh@wigansolicitors.com

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

Written by Louise Jones, Commercial & Residential Conveyancing Executive

 

Civil Partnerships for opposite sex couples!

On 31st December 2019 , legislation allowed 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 the 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 https://wigan.qlocal.co.uk/wigan/news_list/First_opposite_sex_civil_partnerships_to_take_place_on_New_Year%27s_Eve-55042478.htm 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

Retirement for Mark Boon

McCarthy Bennett Holland Solicitors (MBH) would like to announce the retirement of their Consultant and former senior Partner, Mark Boon as from 1st November 2019.  We are sad to see him go but wish him all the best in his retirement.  Mark was a key member of MBH for over 30 years and has an excellent reputation and standing in the community.

As most of Mark’s clients will be aware, Gemma Eastham joined us in May 2019 and is also assisted in the commercial department by Louise Jones who has worked alongside Mark for a lengthy period of time prior to his retirement. Moving forward, Gemma & Louise will continue to grow the commercial department and are both available to all clients, old and new.

Paul Aynsley, Senior Partner, paid tribute to Mark:

“I am honoured to have worked alongside someone of Mark’s talent. Not only an exemplary lawyer, he combined a warmth, charm and compassion which benefited all staff and clients alike.  He is respected by all who have had the pleasure of working with or knowing him.

“On behalf of the whole firm, I thank him for all that he has given to us and our clients over the years.

About MBH Solicitors

MBH Solicitors has been in business since 1971 and has a widespread and diverse client base. The firm is forward thinking and offers electronic or traditional ways of conducting your case.  A modern approach is taken to ensure that you are provided with an efficient service.

MBH offer the following services:

  • Commercial Advice & Litigation
  • Commercial Property
  • Company Share Sale & Acquisition
  • Landlord & Tenant
  • Commercial Leases
  • Business Acquisition & Sale
  • Shareholder Agreements
  • Wills & Probate (Estate Management)
  • General Litigation & Dispute Resolution
  • Personal Injury & Clinical Negligence
  • Residential Conveyancing
  • Family, Children & Divorce Law
  • Employment Law

MBH’s prices are competitive and fixed fees can be offered where appropriate.

Contact MBH Solicitors on 01942 206060 or by e-mail to mbh@wigansolicitors.com  For further information please visit our website www.wigansolicitors.com

 

What is an option agreement and how can it benefit you?

What is an option agreement?

An option agreement is a contract between the landowner and a potential purchaser / developer of the land or property, which grant the purchaser / developer an option to purchase the land / property at anytime during an agreed ‘option period’ in return for an ‘option fee’.

When is an option agreement used?

Option agreements are used where a purchaser / developer is interested in purchasing a property / land for residential and/or commercial development and it is common for the purchaser / developer to use the option period to apply for and secure any necessary planning permissions required to proceed with their development, in addition to any finance.

Are there any benefits of an option agreement?

Yes. There are many benefits for both the landowner and the purchaser/developer:

Landowner:

  • A landowner can secure the final purchase price. If the value of the property decreases before the option agreement comes to an end, this will not affect the seller – the price agreed will remain (subject to the clauses stated in the agreement)
  • The landowner can continue to use the property during the option period
  • The purchaser/landowner is liable to pay the cost of obtaining any planning permission / surveyors during the option period

Purchaser/developer:

  • A purchaser/developer can secure the final purchase price. It can be negotiated that the buyer pays the agreed purchase price, even if the value of the property increases during the option period
  • A purchaser/developer has time to instruct surveyors / architects, apply for planning permission and / or raise finance during the option period
  • An option agreement prevents the landowner from selling the land / property to anybody else during the option period

What are the risks?

Planning permission may not be granted to the purchaser / developer to develop the land. In this case, the purchaser / developer is unlikely to exercise their option to purchase the land / property within the option period, therefore a sale is not guaranteed at the end of the option period.

This is a risk for the seller as they will be entering into an agreement for a number of years, restricting the landowner from selling the property / land to any other potential purchaser / developer, without the guarantee of a sale at the end of the option period.

Careful consideration must be given when drafting and negotiating Option agreements. It is strongly recommended that any buyer or seller works with a trusted commercial property solicitor.

For further information, please contact Gemma Eastham, Commercial Property Solicitor at MBH Solicitors who will be pleased to assist you:

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

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.

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