Devonshires’ 2017 It’s The Law Briefings

Over the last 12 months we have published 7 editions of It’s The Law, which can be viewed below.

For more information on any of our editions of It’s The Law, contact Neil Toner, Partner and Head of Real Estate.

IT’S THE LAW: Does my asset look big in this?

‘Assets of Community Value’ were, with much fanfare, introduced by the Localism Act 2011.

The Government’s soft sell at the time said that they were designed to give communities more power to be involved in the way local services are delivered by stimulating social, environmental and economic growth and regeneration through community asset ownership.

Essentially, with some exceptions, where the owner of land which is listed as an ACV wants to dispose of it, they must first give notice to the Local Authority and then wait for a moratorium period, to give (at least in theory) local community groups a chance to put in an offer to buy it. Importantly, the owner is not obliged to sell to a local community group or even give them a right of first refusal. If the owner wants, it can simply sit out the moratorium period. At the end of the period it’s free to do whatever it wants.

Download the full Devonshires Briefing.

IT’S THE LAW: Stock Rationalisation Taking Stock

Stock rationalisation involves the transfer, from one landlord to another, of tenanted properties along with their associated assets and the business of managing those properties.

Registered Providers are charged by the HCA with optimising the return generated by their assets. By undertaking an asset management review an RP will be able to identify those properties it holds which are:

  • underperforming financially (with running costs disproportionate to the income being generated);
  • a type of stock that doesn’t sit well with the RP’s core strategy (an RP may wish, for example, to divest itself of care homes requiring specialist resources if its strategy is to maximise general needs supply);
  • worth a lot of money and which, if sold, could provide cash to be used in other areas (the sale of a town house in a posh part of Westminster might fund the construction of 3 new houses in Brent); and/or
  • located outside the RP’s principal geographical area (an RP with 90% of its stock within Newcastle may not wish to be responsible for an estate in Plymouth acquired as a result of a merger).

A stock rationalisation programme can raise funds to be invested in new stock or reinvested in improvements to current stock. There may also be a positive effect on service delivery to the residents affected. The RPs involved can concentrate on resourcing and infrastructure to deliver outstanding customer service within a smaller more logical geographical area. They can also concentrate on, and so be better at, the management of a narrower range of housing types.

Click here to download the full Devonshires briefing.

IT’S THE LAW: Tenancy types and what they mean

Anyone working in housing will be aware that tenants occupy residential property under a bewildering variety of agreements, with differing statutory and contractual rights depending on the type of landlord, the tenant’s needs, the date the tenancy commenced and the purpose of the accommodation.

This edition of IT’S THE LAW looks at some of the more common types of short term and periodic tenancies.

Click here to download the full Devonshires briefing.

IT’S THE LAW: Town & Village Greens – They aren’t all green

Land which is registered as a Town or Village Green is subject to a number of legal restrictions. These will significantly interfere with any plans you might have to develop it, in fact, they will almost certainly stop those plans in their tracks.

The restrictions include:

  • It is a criminal offence to cause any damage to a green.
  • It is a criminal offence to undertake any act which interrupts the use or enjoyment of a green as a place for exercise and recreation.
  • It is a public nuisance (and so an offence) to build on a green (unless it’s done with a view to its better enjoyment).

So, whilst you might be allowed to put up a cricket pavilion, you are not going to be able to build any houses.

It is possible to carry out a search to check whether land is registered as a green. It won’t surprise you that as part of almost all conveyancing transactions we carry out that search. But, a clear result before you acquire a site doesn’t mean that you are out of the woods. If the land in question meets the requirements set out in s15 of the Commons Act 2006 it may be possible for someone to secure registration after your purchase.

Click here to download the full Devonshires briefing.

IT’S THE LAW: D Day – the abolition of the s172 Consent Regime

As the sun rises on 6th April 2017, the s172 land disposal Consent Regime will be a thing of history.

In its place will be a requirement for Private Registered Providers to notify the Homes and Communities Agency when they make what are to be known as Relevant Disposals. Earlier today the HCA published its Directions and Guidance which set out the new Notification Regime. Please contact us if you have any questions.

Click here to download the full Devonshires briefing.

IT’S THE LAW: Infill sites – Mind the gap

As Registered Providers and other landowners continue to reassess their existing portfolios to help overcome the UK’s housing shortage, infill development is on the rise.

Whilst by no means a new feature of development, in light of the recent Housing Whitepaper, Councils and Registered Providers are being encouraged like never before to unlock the potential of their existing housing developments and estates. The Government’s message is clear – this housing crisis cannot be solved by the Government alone! Everyone needs to do their bit. Building an additional two units on a redundant garage site or seven houses on the edge of an existing estate all adds up.

Click here to download the full Devonshires briefing.

IT’S THE LAW: Look before you buy

A lot can be discovered about a potential development site from the comfort of a computer screen.

We can investigate registered title at the Land Registry. The local authority search tells us if there’s a Tree Preservation Order. We can look at London Underground maps to identify if the District Line is a problem. We can even call up satellite images via Google.

But, there are a number of reasons that it remains imperative that you visit the site before you exchange contracts to buy it. Even if that means pulling on the wellies. In this edition of IT’S THE LAW we look at some of the key things to be looking out for.

Click here to download the full Devonshires briefing.


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