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


For those of you buying a 2nd, 3rd or even 14th home you will probably know about the changes to the law that come into effect on Friday 1st April 2016.

From Friday, anyone buying an additional home for any purpose will pay more stamp duty land tax. It is understood that the higher rates will only apply to additional residential properties purchased in England, Wales and Northern Ireland on or after 1 April 2016. The higher rates will be 3 percentage points above the current SDLT residential rates and they will be charged on the portion of the value of the property that falls into each band. See the table below:

Band     Existing residential SDLT rates New additional property SDLT rates
£0* – £125k     0% 3%
£125k – £250k     2% 5%
£250k – £925k     5% 8%
£925k – £1.5m     10% 13%
£1.5m +     12% 15%

This has led to our conveyancing department having an unprecedented amount of purchases due to complete before Friday’s deadline.

Our conveyancing partner, Caroline urges those people who are looking at buying a further home to carefully assess whether they can afford not only to buy it but whether they can afford the new stamp duty rates. Also, if you are in the process of buying a further home check with your solicitors whether completion will take place before Friday.

Unfortunately, the changes also affect jointly owned property and this also affects those people looking to buy another home with their partner even if one of them doesn’t own a property. It may also affect any divorce settlements.  Our family solicitor, Gillian would strongly advise those who have agreed or are thinking of agreeing to keep their name on a property following separation to assess whether these new changes will cause them any issues in the long term.

Contact Caroline Rooks to discuss your property or other legal requirements in confidence at:

Contact Gillian Lavelle, solicitor at MBH Solicitors, to discuss your family & matrimonial requirements in confidence at:
Tel: 01942 206060
Address: 26 Bridgeman Terrace, Wigan WN1 1TD
Twitter: @MBHSolicitors

Enfranchisement – how it works & what’s involved

Q: Another tenant in my apartment block has suggested that we seek to buy the freehold of our property. Is it possible to do so and what is involved in the process?

Since the mid-1990s, tenants have had the ability to purchase the freehold of a building within which they have a lease over a property. The process is called ‘enfranchisement’; tenants either elect a nominated person or persons, or establish a limited company within which each takes a share, and the tenants or company, funded by the shareholding tenants, buys the freehold from the landlord on behalf of all of the participating tenants.

Getting started

Enfranchisement is governed by a set procedure. Before starting out on the process, tenants are well advised to fully-research and cost out the purchase, as well as to take good legal advice as to how the acquisition will affect them.

Tenants will need to ensure that both they and their building qualify and are eligible to exercise enfranchisement. There should be at least two flats in the building and leases of at least two-thirds of the flats’ leases must have been granted for over 21 years. Alternatively, shorter leases must be capable of ongoing renewal or, in the case of shared ownership leases, the tenant’s share must be 100%. Right-to-buy leases also qualify. There are a number of exclusions; charitable housing leaseholders and business and commercial tenants can’t exercise enfranchisement and tenants who own more than two flats in a building are also excluded.

At least half of the qualifying tenants in a building must be willing to proceed; so for example, if your building contains 12 flats, at least 6 tenants must qualify and participate. If there are only two flats, both tenants must participate.

A legal adviser will be able to assess fully whether you qualify.

It’s worth getting together with your fellow tenants at this stage and gathering support from those who wish to join in with the purchase. You may want to enter into an agreement together, formally setting out terms such as how you will vote, who is responsible for negotiation and what each tenant’s financial contribution will be. You should also consider how other aspects to the purchase will be funded, including professional fees and valuation costs.

Serving the Initial Notice

Tenants (under the name of their limited company) will need to serve an Initial Notice on the Landlord, notifying it of their intention to exercise their right to purchase the freehold. If tenants are setting up a limited company, this will need to have been done beforehand; again, a solicitor or accountant will be able to advise and manage this for you.

Tenants will need a valuation, advising of the amount they should offer in their Initial Notice (this is likely to be advice as to the ‘best’ and ‘worst case’ scenarios). The valuer should continue to have input on receipt of the Landlord’s Counter-Notice and deal with negotiation and agreement on the purchase price. Valuers may also be able to advise as to the ongoing management of the building following completion of the purchase.

The Landlord’s response

Once the Landlord has received the Initial Notice, tenants can expect requests for information, including evidence of their leasehold interests. This information must be supplied within 21 days so tenants must ensure that, before starting the enfranchisement procedure, they are fully prepared with all documentation to hand. If information that is requested is not provided, tenants are unable to apply again for another 12 months.

The Landlord will then serve a Counter-Notice, acknowledging the tenants’ right to purchase and either agreeing terms or proposing alternatives. Landlords who do not agree to enfranchisement generally apply to Court for an Order to state why the right cannot be granted or to have its reasons verified. Parties may also apply to Court if the purchase price cannot be agreed.

If a Landlord intends to demolish and/or redevelop a building, or a substantial part of it, the Landlord is not obliged to sell the freehold to the tenants. However, this can only apply if at least two-thirds of the leases in the building will end within 5 years of the date of the Initial Notice.

Progressing the purchase

Once a price is agreed, the parties can proceed to an exchange of contracts. If the case has gone to Court, a Landlord must send to the tenants a draft contract within 21 days of the date of judgment. Both parties should exchange contracts within two months of the judgment, agreeing a date for completion; if they fail to achieve this deadline, tenants should make a further application to Court for an Order stating that the property is transferred to them.

Enfranchisement is a complex process and is governed by strict time limits. It is important to obtain good legal advice from an early stage. MBH’s Mark Boon and Caroline Rooks are experts in Landlord and Tenant and Commercial Property; call 01942 206060 to make an appointment.

About MBH

McCarthy Bennett Holland, established in Wigan since 1971, offers a personal service across a wide range of legal practice areas, including residential and commercial property, family and matrimonial, wills and probate, employment, personal injury and company commercial.

Contact Caroline Rooks to discuss your property or other legal requirements in confidence at:
Tel: 01942 206060
Address: 26 Bridgeman Terrace, Wigan WN1 1TD
Twitter: @MBHSolicitors

Leaseholder consents: understanding your lease terms

When completing the purchase of your new home, particularly where a property is held on a long lease instead of freehold, it is often easy to let the finer details pass by unnoticed as you focus your attentions on getting the keys and moving in. However, before you even exchange contracts it is important to read carefully through the lease and, if possible, meet with your solicitor to discuss the aspects which may impact on how you deal with the property.

Points you should look out for include:

  • Who is your landlord and is a management company party to the lease as well?

You need to check to whom you are liable to pay rent and who you will be dealing with. If there is a management company made up of other tenants of the development, as a new tenant you may also take a share of the company with your purchase. Make sure you know who is responsible for looking after public parts of the building or development, including estate roads, car parks and lifts (if relevant).

  • What rights does the property have the benefit of?

These may include rights of access and rights of way over common areas such as driveways, paths, stairways and lifts. You may also be grated parking rights in a designated area. Whilst you won’t own these areas, you will be able to cross and use them in order to access your own property. Rights may be restricted; for example, you may only be able to use a parking space to park a private car so this cannot be used for commercial vehicles or caravans.

  • What are your lease obligations?

You will undoubtedly need to agree to pay your rent on the days it falls due. ‘Ground’ rent is a nominal sum payable each year to a landlord under a long lease (typically, a ‘long’ lease could be for any period from 99 – 999 years). Ground rent sums may increase every so often; your solicitor should advise you as to what you are required to pay and when.

Most leases of flats and apartments contain service charge provisions; some leases of houses will also where a management company has been set up to deal with maintenance of public open spaces, adopted roads and other common areas of an estate. Tenants are required to pay the sums demanded and, in return, the landlord is obliged to provide the services as set out in the lease. Your seller or the developer should advise you from the outset as to what you can expect to pay in service charge.

Landlords and management companies also often reserve a right to require payments to be made towards their administration charges and expenses.

  • What alterations are you permitted to carry out and are any consents are required?

If you have a lease of a flat, you should expect an obligation not to carry out any structural alterations to the property as these may affect the structural integrity of the building as a whole.

Alterations clauses should be more flexible in leases of detached properties but it is common for long leases to require the tenant to obtain the consent of the landlord to any alterations they wish to carry out which extend the property in some way. You will also need management company consent if one is party to the lease.

Alterations may include extensions, the addition of conservatories or any other building works which increase the footprint. Depending on the lease, alterations such as loft conversions may also require consent. Your solicitor should talk you through what works you are able to do but make sure that you go back to check your lease at a later date before you start any works if you’re not sure.

Under the lease, you will likely also need to ensure that all the appropriate planning permissions and building regulations consents are obtained to the works you are carrying out. Make sure that you keep hold of all relevant documentation as you will need it when you come to sell.

If consents to works, or planning permissions and building regulations consents, are not obtained, this can lead to problems later. Indemnity insurance policies may need to be purchased to cover any risk arising as a result of missing documentation and this can not only cause a delay on a sale but may put off potential buyers or lenders.

  • Are you able to sell the lease and, if so, is consent required?

It should be expected that any long lease will contain the ability for a tenant to sell it. However, again it is likely that the consent of the landlord and, if relevant, the management company will be required. They may reserve the right to refuse consent if any rents or service charges are unpaid; in this instance, expect settlement of any arrears to be a condition of consent being granted on the date of completion.

McCarthy Bennett Holland has an experienced residential conveyancing team which can advise on lease terms and will manage your sale or purchase efficiently. For more information, call Caroline Rooks or John Petrie on 01942 206060.

About MBH

McCarthy Bennett Holland, established in Wigan since 1971, offers a personal service across a wide range of legal practice areas, including residential and commercial property, family and matrimonial, wills and probate, employment, personal injury and company commercial.

Contact Caroline Rooks, partner at MBH Solicitors, to discuss your conveyancing or other legal requirements in confidence at:
Tel: 01942 206060
Address: 26 Bridgeman Terrace, Wigan WN1 1TD
Twitter: @MBHSolicitors

Returning tenancy deposits – how to lodge a claim if your landlord won’t repay

Q: I have come to the end of my tenancy of my property but the landlord now refuses to return my deposit. What can I do?

Most, if not all, landlords will require you to pay a deposit when you sign up to a lease of a property, whether the property is residential or commercial. This provides security for the landlord in the event that you fail to make a rental payment or if the property is damaged at the end of the lease.

If the property is residential and you sign what is known as an ‘Assured Shorthold Tenancy’, the landlord by law must pay the deposit into a government-backed tenancy deposit protection scheme (the “TDP”) within 30 days of receiving it from you. The scheme is designed to ensure that your money is protected and that you will get your deposit back if you comply with the terms of your tenancy, pay your rent and other bills and don’t damage the property.

When your tenancy ends, you and your landlord must agree how much of the deposit should be returned to you; once the sum is agreed, the money must be paid back within 10 days.

However, there is occasionally a dispute between landlord and tenant over the sum to be returned. You may disagree about the condition of the property or your landlord may claim that you have breached a term of the tenancy. In this situation, deposits remain protected under the TDP until the dispute is settled.

The TDP scheme offers a free dispute resolution service for landlords and tenants; whilst you don’t have to use the service, it can help to resolve a dispute efficiently. The dispute will be resolved by an independent, professional adjudicator and you will be required to submit evidence to them to support your argument. Any decisions made about your deposit will be final and cannot be appealed by either party so you can have some certainty that the matter will be closed.

Many properties are managed separately by agents so you may never have contact with your landlord. If you are unable to contact your landlord, you should raise a dispute with your TDP scheme. If you have not received a response within 10 days, the case will be referred to the dispute resolution service and the TDP will return the deposit if agreed by the adjudicator.

You can expect your case to be dealt with promptly; once an application for a dispute has been submitted to your TDP scheme, they will refer to your landlord for a response. The case will then be reviewed and referred to the adjudicator who will prepare a report, usually within 28 days, giving their decision and their reasons for it. The TDP will then pay the money according to the adjudicator’s decision.

What information should I provide?

 Presenting a thorough case is important to give you the best chance of success. Some points to consider may be:

  • What the dispute relates to and how much money is claimed (you should at least try to agree what sum is disputed with your landlord);
  • Why you believe you are entitled to the sum claimed;
  • Whether you and the landlord have complied with the terms of the tenancy;
  • Provide all relevant documentary evidence; this should include a copy of the tenancy agreement, the inventory, check-in and check-out reports, rent and bank statements, good-quality photographs with date and time noted, plus any invoices or quotes for work carried out;
  • Only send relevant correspondence; an adjudicator is unlikely to need much of the correspondence you have exchanged and will focus only on the other evidence supplied.

If you have come to the end of your tenancy and you are in dispute with your landlord over the deposit, your first step will be to contact your TDP scheme. MBH will be happy to review your documents and assist in putting together your claim, ensuring that it is presented with all necessary information and supporting you through the process.

Paul Aynsley, partner at MBH, deals with Landlord & Tenant matters and will be happy to discuss any issues affecting your tenancy. Contact Paul to make an appointment on 01942 206060.

About MBH

McCarthy Bennett Holland, established in Wigan since 1971, offers a personal service across a wide range of legal practice areas, including residential and commercial property, family and matrimonial, wills and probate, employment, personal injury and company commercial.

Contact Paul Aynsley to discuss your litigation or other legal requirements in confidence at:
Tel: 01942 206060
Address: 26 Bridgeman Terrace, Wigan WN1 1TD
Twitter: @MBHSolicitors

Q: I am not married to my partner; do I have ‘common law’ rights?

Unfortunately, there is no such thing as ‘common law’ wives and husbands; unmarried couples, whether heterosexual or same-sex, cannot establish legal rights regardless of whether they are together for a long time or if they have children. Because this area of family law can be misunderstood, many people only find out that they have no rights once their relationship has broken down.

Married couples, or those in a civil partnership, enjoy far greater rights and legal status than those couples who purely live together (known as ‘cohabiting’ couples). If a cohabiting couple goes to Court after their separation, the Court will not consider how long they were together or whether either party believed they had any rights; a Court will simply look at each partner’s financial contribution and how property and assets are legally owned.

Rights to property

Where property and assets are jointly owned and legally registered as such, it is much simpler to show that you should be entitled to something on the breakdown of your relationship. However, where, for example, the former family home is registered in one person’s sole name, the law is complex and certain requirements must be met before you can claim that you are entitled to an interest in it. In most cases, financial contribution by the non-owner partner to the property must be shown. This may be by payment of the deposit for the property, mortgage and home improvements.

Cohabitation Agreements

Cohabitation Agreements can be drafted when a couple moves in together. This will ensure that property is protected against financial claims on separation and can also regulate what is to happen to:

  • property;
  • assets (such as joint bank accounts or investments);
  • cars; and
  • contact with children.

Cohabitation Agreements can be prepared quickly and will help to avoid lengthy and expensive Court disputes following separation. It is important to remember to put in place any legal documentation necessary regarding the transfer of ownership of property as well as the Cohabitation Agreement itself.

If you live with your partner but do not wish for them to acquire an interest in your home, this should be made clear from the start of your cohabitation. Financial contributions from your partner towards the property should not be accepted nor should they be responsible for payment of the mortgage, utility bills or home improvements. Cohabitation Agreements can give you secure knowledge that in the event of a breakdown of your relationship claims cannot be brought regardless of whether or not you accepted a financial contribution from your partner.

Is a Cohabitation Agreement legally binding?

An Agreement will be a contract between you and your partner and, to be legally binding, it must state within the document that it is to have legal force. It must be properly signed and executed by you both and must not be unfair to either party. A Cohabitation Agreement will never override any other legal rights enjoyed by the parties, particularly those relating to children.

When a couple is entering into a Cohabitation Agreement, for it to be effective each party must obtain their own independent legal advice and each must disclose fully any relevant information to the other, such as financial details and disclosure of all assets owned.

When separating, make sure you check your position in respect of your home and assets, whether jointly or solely owned by you or your ex-partner. You may be able to bring a claim which will help you to move on.

Gillian Lavelle is a specialist in dealing with cohabitation cases, having practised both in civil litigation and family departments during her time in the legal profession.

Our new family and matrimonial specialist Gillian is pleased to offer a free initial 30-minute appointment for all new cases. To arrange your meeting, call 01942 206060 today.

About MBH

McCarthy Bennett Holland, established in Wigan since 1971, offers a personal service across a wide range of legal practice areas, including residential and commercial property, family and matrimonial, wills and probate, employment, personal injury and company commercial.

Contact Gillian Lavelle, solicitor at MBH Solicitors, to discuss your family & matrimonial requirements in confidence at:
Tel: 01942 206060
Address: 26 Bridgeman Terrace, Wigan WN1 1TD
Twitter: @MBHSolicitors
Find Gillian on Facebook: “McCarthy Bennett Holland – family solicitor”