SDLT Holiday Extension announced in today’s budget. How does this affect Buyers?

Good news for house buyers as Chancellor Rishi Sunak has today confirmed in his budget speech that the stamp duty will be extended.   He has stated that property purchases up to a value of £500,000.00 will pay no stamp duty, provided completion takes place on or before 30th of June 2021.  Following this, there will no stamp duty payable for purchases up to a value of £250,000 until 30th September 2021, with SDLT rates to return to their previous level on 1st October 2021.

This will of course come as good new to anyone who is currently in the process of buying a property or who intends to purchase a property before 1st October 2021.

For more information contact the Conveyancing team on 01942 206060.

Commercial Property – Update to the Use Classes Order

On 1st September 2020 The Town and Country Planning (Use Classes) (Amendment) (England) Regulations 2020 brought in various changes to the planning use classes. 

What are planning use classes?

Use classes categorise the different uses of property in England. Planning permission is required where the propertys proposed use is different to the class it holds.

The new classes which have been created are detailed below:

Class E – an intentionally wide class which covers offices, retail, some food and drink businesses, healthcare, service uses and more;

Class F.1 – covers learning and non-residential institutions (e.g. schools and libraries); and

Class F.2 – covers local community and includes community halls, small local shops and sport facilities.

Other uses have been re-categorised under the separate, use class ‘sui generis’ preventing an easy change of use for such properties. 

Permitted development rights allow for changes of use from one class to another without planning permission as such. For this to happen, the Local Planning Authority would need to sign this off. There will be no changes to these rights until 31st July 2021.

UseUse Class – before 01 September 2020Use Class – after 01 September 2020
Financial and professional servicesA2E
Food and Drink – Café or restaurant (mainly on the premises)A3E
Business, other than those within class A2B1E
Non-residential institutions (i.e nurseries)D1E
Assembly and Leisure (sports facilities and gyms)D2E
Non-residential institutions (education, art gallery, museum, public exhibition hall, public library,  places of worship and law courts)D1F.1
Local community – Shop no larger than 280sqm (selling mostly essential goods and at least 1km from another similar shop), community hall, community swimming pools and ice skating rinksA1F.2
Pub, bar, any drinking establishmentA4Sui generis
Hot Food TakeawayA5Sui generis
Cinema, Concert Hall, Bingo Hall, Dance Hall, Live music venueD2Sui generis

What does this mean for you and your business?

If your property’s use now falls under class E, you will benefit from a wider class and have more flexibility as to what you can use the property for.

Some properties may be restricted by the recent development. For example, pubs and cinemas will not benefit from this amendment and must still obtain planning permission to change the use.

If you require any further information, please call our team on 01942 206060 or e-mail

Why should you choose a local firm of solicitors to deal with your conveyancing transaction?

with my conveyancing transaction?

There are many online conveyancing firms advertising  both online and on social media that claim to offer the same level of service as local solicitors and conveyancers at a lower price, however sometimes these offers can be too good to be true as there are often extras, detailed in the small print, which are added on at the end of the transaction for which you may not have budgeted for.

Since buying a property is likely to be one of the biggest investments that you make during your lifetime, it is wise therefore to consider all the options available to you when choosing a conveyancer. 

Some of the benefits of choosing a local firm are:-

  1. Local Knowledge

    A local firm will have a good knowledge of the local area and also have an idea of any potential issues that may arise due to their experience of dealing with other properties in the vicinity.  Many also already have a good relationship with local estate agents which may come in handy should there be any issues in the chain as local agents may be more willing help conveyancers who they have an established relationship with.

    They will also have good connections with local mortgage brokers who they could recommend if you require assistance on obtaining mortgage finance to assist in your transaction.

  2. A Personalised service

When choosing a conveyancer it is best to choose someone who will take the time to speak to you and who you feel confident will have your best interest at heart during what can be a very stressful time.

When using a local firm, it is highly likely that you will speak with the same people (i.e. your conveyancer and/or their assistant) during every step of the transaction.  This will enable you to establish trust and build a good relationship with the people dealing with your transaction. 

Many larger conveyancing firms that you see advertised online generally consist of a team of people and you may not get to speak to the same person more than once.

  • A local office

This makes thing easier should something need to be dealt with urgently, or should you need to make an appointment to see your conveyancer or drop off any documents which are needed to progress the transaction.

  • Other legal services available

Following completion of your transaction, it may be that you require other legal services such as making a Will, dealing with Probate of relative or friend who has passed away, matrimonial or employment advice,.  Local firms will usually have other departments who are able to deal these issues for you whilst offering the same personal and professional service that you received during your conveyancing transaction.

Here at McCarthy Bennett Holland, we have a great team of people (many of whom live locally) who have many years of experience between them of dealing with all types of conveyancing transactions. To obtain a quote or to speak to one of team, please contact us by telephone on 01942 206060 or by email at

You can also obtain a quote by using our no obligation online quote tool at

Help to Buy – Is the current scheme ending?

Help to Buy – Is the current scheme ending?


The current Help to Buy scheme is set to end on the 31st March 2021.

Under the scheme, the property previously had to be built by the builder by the 31st December 2020 for buyers to qualify to use this scheme. However, due to COVID-19 the government have extended this deadline to the 28th February 2021. This means that you can still use the current Help to Buy scheme if the builder is able to complete the house ready for you to move in to by the 28th February 2021.

Some buyers may be allowed more time to buy and move into the home and for the builder to finish building if you reserved the property before the 30th June 2020. If you reserved before the 30th June 2020, you may be able to complete the purchase and move into the property up to the 31st May 2021. However, this is only if severe delays have been caused due to COVID-19. This may not apply to all buyers and you should discuss this with your builder if you are concerned

If you have reserved after this date, the property must be built and ready for you to move in to by the 28th February 2021. If the property does not complete before this time you will not be able to get the equity loan funds. We would recommend discussing the anticipated completion date with your builder.

If you are unable to complete your purchase on time due to being unable to get the equity loan funds, the builder must unconditionally release you from the contract, the only exception is if you reserved prior to the 30th June, as you may be entitled to complete up to the 31st May 2021.

If the purchase does not go ahead, the builder must return the reservation fee but may be entitled to deduct reasonable charges, but they must inform you of this. You will have to pay any legal fees and/or any financial advisor fees, if applicable.

We would advise you to contact your builder to discuss the anticipated build date of the property you have reserved and whether any extension is needed.

A new Help to Buy Scheme will start on the 1st April 2021 and this will end on the 31st March 2023.

Please contact our residential property department on 01942 206060 if you have any concerns.

Coronavirus and commercial leases – what landlords and tenants need to know

Can tenants withhold rent or end a lease prematurely?

A common question is whether tenants can refuse to pay rent, pay less rent or terminate the lease before the expiry date.

Firstly, it is important to review the terms of the lease. The relevant provisions to consider include:

  1. Any break clause that may enable the tenant to terminate the lease early;
  2. Any force majeure clause (although these are rarely found in commercial leases and there is no common law right to terminate for force majeure); and
  3. Any turnover rent provisions that are dependent upon the income generated from the premises.

Most commercial leases will provide for rent to be payable without deduction or set off. In those circumstances a tenant is unlikely to be able to withhold payment of rent for Coronavirus-related reasons unless any specific provision in the lease enables it do so, or unless it reaches an agreement with the landlord.

Rent suspension clauses generally only apply where premises have been damaged or destroyed. Tenants may therefore struggle to argue for a rent suspension in reliance on such provisions.

Tenants may look to the common law doctrine of frustration where the lease provides no express option for early termination. To terminate a lease by frustration, a party has to prove that there is some form of illegality or failure of common purpose that renders performance of the lease/contract impossible or so radically different from the parties’ expectations that termination is justified. The bar for a successful frustration claim is high.


Can a Landlord forfeit the lease and evict the tenant for non-payment of rent?

The UK government announced on 23 March 2020 that commercial landlords are to be precluded from forfeiting commercial leases and evicting the tenant for non-payment of rent. This measure has been extended from 30 June 2020 and will remain in place until 30 September 2020.


Who will be liable to provide/pay for additional services?

The starting point is that landlords remain liable to provide, and tenants remain liable to pay for, services in accordance with the express service charge provisions in the lease.

The ability of a landlord to recover the costs of the enhanced cleaning regimes from tenants will depend on the terms of the lease. Most service charge provisions include the recovery of cleaning costs and we would anticipate that such costs would be likely to be seen by the courts as reasonably incurred subject to any cap that may apply. Alternatively, a landlord might be able to rely on any ‘catch all’ provision regarding costs associated with good estate management.


Whether you are a landlord or tenant, it is important to understand your legal obligations and commitments; to act responsibly and not to assume that you are or will be automatically released from your legal obligations under a lease.


For further information, please contact our Commercial team at MBH Solicitors: Tel: 01942 206060 Address: 26 Bridgeman Terrace, Wigan WN1 1TD.


Temporary SDLT Relief for residential properties

On 8th July 2020 the Chancellor of the Exchequer announced a temporary holiday for SDLT on the first £500,000.00 of all property sales that take place in England and Northern Ireland between 8th July 2020 and 31st March 2021.

The SDLT holiday was introduced to encourage buyers to continue with their house purchases in a bid to keep the property market moving during these turbulent times. The hope is that, following the decrease in property transactions during lockdown, this will boost the property market which in-turn will assist with the recovery of the UK economy.

But what does this mean for you and how much could you potentially save?

For first time buyers, this now means that you can purchase a property up to £500,000.00 and pay no stamp duty. The previous threshold for first time buyers to claim the FTB Relief was £300,000.00 with any consideration between £300,000-£500,000 attracting stamp duty at 5% i.e. first time buyers purchasing a property at £500,000.00 can now save £10,000.00 under the temporary relief rules. First time Buyers purchasing above £500,000.00 were not entitled to FTB SDLT relief under previous rules.

For anybody thinking of moving home and replacing their main residence, there will be no SDLT to pay on property purchases up to £500,000.00. If you are purchasing a property above £500,00.00 SDLT will be paid on a sliding scale for anything above £500,001.00 (i.e. 5% for any consideration between £500,000.00 and £925,000.00, 10% on any consideration between £925,001.00 and £1.5m and 12% on any consideration paid above £1.5m. The new SDLT relief could therefore save you up to £15,000.00.

What if you wish to purchase an additional property i.e. buy to let property or second home? Under the new SDLT Relief rules, you will now only pay 3% on anything up to the value of £500,000.00. Previously you would have paid 3% up to £125,000.00, then 5% on any consideration paid between £125,001.00 and £250,000.00 and 8% on anything between £250,001.00 and £925,00.00 and so on. i.e. under the previous rates you would have paid £30,000.00 SDLT on an additional property purchase at £500,000.00 but under the new rules you will now only have to pay £15,000.00.

The new relief does not only benefit individuals but also companies purchasing residential properties can also benefit from the same savings when purchasing a buy to let or additional property.

For anyone considering purchasing a new residential property prior to 31st March 2021, you can use the Government calculator (copy the link below into your search engine) to check exactly how much SDLT is payable dependant upon your circumstances.

Government SDLT calculator:

For any further information or property advice, or if you are thinking of taking advantage of the temporary SDLT Relief by purchasing a new property, please contact us for a competitive quote either by telephone (on 01942 206060) or email at

Land Registry Update – Electronic Signatures

When buying a house, one of the most significant moments for the parties involved is the signing of the contract documentation. Until recently, the Land Registry would only accept the original “wet” signature to the documentation to reduce the risks of fraudulent transactions.

However, due to the recent lockdown restrictions, wet signatures have become increasingly more difficult to obtain due to postal delays, a solicitor’s inability to see their clients in person and difficulties with printing and scanning. This led to an increase in demand for the Land Registry to accept electronic signatures.

As a result, the Land Registry are now accepting electronic signatures however the signature must be witnessed by another party who is a present at the time of signing who will also have to sign the document electronically.

Not only will this help in the current climate, it is also a strong step towards modernising legal processes and keeping up with technological advances. It will also ensure that solicitors can work with clients over long distances as they will be able to correspond via email and finalise the transaction without relying on the postal service or having to travel long distances.

The hope is that, in the near future, electronic signatures will become more commonplace which will significantly modernise the conveyancing process and help to keep legal transactions up to speed with technological advances.

The dangers of DIY leases

Gemma. March blog photo

The dangers of DIY leases

It may be tempting for both landlords and tenants of commercial properties to try and save money on legal costs by dealing with the matter between themselves. There are a number of downfalls that a landlord / tenant may fall foul of. Commercial property Solicitor, Gemma Eastham, looks at the pitfalls.

SDLT liability – tenants

Whether SDLT will be payable will generally by determined by whether a premium is being paid for the grant or assignment of the lease, the value of the annual rent per annum and the length of the lease.

Where no SDLT is payable, a tenant may still be required to notify HMRC (submit a return to HMRC).

Failure to submit a return and pay the duty (if any) within 14 days of the effective date of the transaction will lead to a fixed penalty of £100 and interest being charged on any SDLT and if the date of submission is more than 3 months after the filing date, the fixed penalty will increase to £200.

When do you need to register a lease at H.M Land Registry?

Leases granted for a period of more than seven years and certain other types of leases need to be registered at HM Land Registry.

It is worth pointing out that any easements contained in a lease, such as rights to access the demised premises through common areas or the use shared facilities, i.e car parks, will not take effect at law unless they are registered, even where the lease itself does not require registration.  For a tenant, it is therefore important to ensure that any registration requirements are adhered to.

Unwritten tenancies

Unwritten tenancies are dangerous for both parties to a commercial tenancy because there is no clear record of the terms that have been agreed.

A landlord, for example, will have no right to forfeit the tenancy in the event of a breach of the terms of the agreement because an express forfeiture clause is required for this.

With a business tenancy it is important to ascertain whether the agreement is within the security of tenure provisions contained in the Landlord and Tenant Act 1954 (the right for the tenant to renew the tenancy at the end of the term).  If there is no express clause excluding these provisions in the agreement and the Landlord and Tenant Act 1954 has not been ‘contracted out’, the tenancy will be deemed to be within the Act.

This means that the tenant will generally be entitled to request a new lease from the landlord at the end of the contractual term of the existing lease. The landlord would only be able to bring the tenancy to an end by serving notice on the tenant in the prescribed form, which requires the landlord to give the tenant not less than 6 months’ notice.

This may affect any provisions which have been agreed between the landlord and tenant.

For example, a landlord and tenant may have verbally agreed that either party can bring a lease to an end by giving one month’s notice to the other party. Legally, the landlord would not be able to rely on this provision and would need to follow the above statutory procedure (6 months’ notice).

The full extent of this topic could be covered in something far longer than a blog, but these are some key areas that both landlords and tenants should consider before proceeding. Seeking appropriate legal advice at the outset could potentially save a landlord and/or tenant money in the long run. Legal advice is always recommended.

For further information, please contact our Commercial team at MBH Solicitors: Tel: 01942 206060 Address: 26 Bridgeman Terrace, Wigan WN1 1TD.



Can I refuse a new business lease because I want to move in to the property?

Unless a lease is contracted out, a business tenant has a right to a new lease upon expiry of their contractual term, subject to limited grounds.

Section 30(1)(g) of the Landlord and Tenant Act 1954 contains an ‘own occupation’ ground.
This allows a landlord to refuse the tenant a new lease if they can prove they want to occupy the property themselves.

If a landlord intends to refuse to grant a new lease based on the ‘own occupation’ ground, the landlord must have owned the property for at least 5 years.

What does the landlord have to prove?

You need to demonstrate that you have a settled intention to occupy all or the majority of the property when the tenant leaves.

If you wish to use for residential purposes, you must prove an intention to occupy the whole of the property.

What evidence does the landlord need?

If you plan to occupy and you would need planning permission (e.g change of use from commercial use to residential use) then you should obtain that or provide evidence that planning permission is likely to be granted.

How does the landlord start the process?

You must serve a notice pursuant to section 25 of the 1954 Act, quoting ground G (and /or any other grounds to refuse you can rely upon).

If the tenant has already served a notice (known as a section 26 notice) requesting a new lease, you must serve a counter notice within 2 months.

For further information, please contact our Commercial team at MBH Solicitors: Tel: 01942 206060 Address: 26 Bridgeman Terrace, Wigan WN1 1TD.

Written by our Gemma Eastham, Commercial Property Solicitor

I want to sell my leasehold property but I do not have long left on my lease

A property with a limited number of years left on the lease may be hard to sell because prospective buyers are likely find it difficult to obtain a mortgage.

Mortgage lenders are reluctant to lend money to a prospective buyer unless the lease has a requisite number of years left on the lease.

If you are struggling to sell your property, you may wish to purchase the freehold title or extend the lease.

Can I extend my lease?

Various factors are taken in to account, the main factor being that you must have owned your property for a minimum of two years and you must have been granted a lease of 21 years or more.

You cannot extend your lease if your lease has already expired, if the lease has been extended previously or of your landlord is a charitable trust.

How much will it cost me?

If you are looking to extend the lease of your house, generally you do not have to pay a premium, however, your landlord may ask for their representatives legal costs to be paid on their behalf. Your ground rent may also increase to a modern rent, from the date which your additional 50 years term begins.

What do I need to know?

You are entitled to extend your lease for a period of 50 years, in addition to the unexpired term of your original lease.

If the terms between you and your landlord cannot be agreed, or if your landlord refuses to extend your lease, then you can make an application to the First Tier Tribunal where the terms and price can be decided.

If you and your landlord have agreed to extend your lease for a further 50 years or for a longer period, we are happy to help guide you through the process, from the beginning to the end.

For further information, please contact our Commercial team at MBH Solicitors: Tel: 01942 206060 Address: 26 Bridgeman Terrace, Wigan WN1 1TD.

Written by our Gemma Eastham, Commercial Property Solicitor