Landlord and tenant issues: How long are you willing to wait to recover possession of your property?

By Nerys Thomas.

Generation rent (generation of young people living in rented accommodation with little immediate chance of becoming home owners due to the high cost of property) is an ever-increasing reality within the UK.  Whilst this is good news for landlords, whether they have one rental property to their name or those with large property portfolios, being a landlord can at times be compared to a costly roller coaster experience, especially when attempting to recover possession of your property.

Fundamentally, no landlord can recover possession of their property without the tenant providing vacant possession or the court ordering for the tenant to vacate.  If the tenant does not leave the property following a court order being obtained, landlords must then apply for a court approved bailiff to undertake an eviction.  All of which can become an expensive and time-consuming situation, where the landlord is usually already aggrieved e.g. unpaid rent.        

The Ministry of Justice published statistics in November 2017 surrounding landlord possession proceedings.  It is pleasing to note from this publication that the actual number of possession claims directed to court are slowly reducing, but those claims which are directed to court have seen the time frames for the matters being addressed marginally increasing.  On average, the Ministry of Justice inform us that it could take 11.4 weeks from the filing of a claim at court to getting a possession order.  This means that if your tenant has fallen into rent arrears and you have served the appropriate notice it will take, on average, just shy of three months from filing your claim at court to the matter being considered by a Judge.  That would potentially be three further months where rent is not being paid.

It is detailed in the Ministry of Justice report that it will take on average 41.2 weeks from the date of issuing a claim at court for possession to actually recovering possession, should a tenant fail to adhere to the court order requiring that he/she vacates, and a court approved bailiff is employed to undertake an eviction.  Once again, if the reason for pursuing possession is rent arrears, this time frame is likely to result in an eye-watering debt owed to the landlord.     

Please note that the Ministry of Justice statistics have been collated across England and Wales, therefore the true situation in your local court may vary depending on the court’s workload.  Nevertheless, the figures are a clear warning for landlords to try and protect themselves where possible.

At CJCH Solicitors, we have the experience and knowledge of providing an all-encompassing service in relation to landlord and tenant matters, whether this is to safeguard the landlord prior to entering into a rental agreement; when disputes have arisen or to recover possession and/or rent arrears through the court process.  Should you wish to discuss your situation further or seek assistance with a dispute, contact Nerys Thomas at disputeresolution@cjch.co.uk or by telephone on 0333 231 6405.

Fire Safety in Commercial Premises

Article by Sam Pearson

With the tragedy at Grenfell Tower still fresh in our memories, fire safety understandably has become something of a pressing issue. Our commercial property specialist Sam Pearson looks at the importance of getting it right when it comes to fire safety in commercial premises.

The Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 (“The Order”) covers fire safety in England and Wales with the aim of protecting buildings and people from the dangers of fire by setting out steps which should be taken to reduce the risk. Responsibility for complying with The Order rests with the “responsible person[s]” which includes the employer in the workplace, owners and/or persons in control of premises.

Although The Order is aimed at commercial premises (including external areas and vacant premises) it is important to mention that it also applies to communal parts of residential properties.

The responsible person[s] must determine what general fire precautions are necessary and carry out a risk assessment which must be documented, recorded and kept under review. Other responsibilities include (but are not limited to) taking measures for the provision of firefighting and fire detection equipment; ensuring fire safety equipment and exit routes are properly maintained; the appointment of a competent person to implement the fire safety measures including evacuation procedures and safety drills; and providing training and information for employees and other persons who may be affected.

A breach of your obligations under The Order creates criminal offences and a person found guilty of an offence is liable to a fine and in the most serious cases imprisonment. The responsible person[s] could also face civil liability for breach of a statutory duty.

There have been numerous cases where businesses and Landlords have been convicted for failing to comply with their obligations under The Order:

  • Most recently in June 2017, a company responsible for the running of a care home in Doncaster was fined £3,500 and ordered to pay £13,325 prosecution costs for failing to have a suitable fire risk assessment in place;
  • Locally, a Welsh construction company was fined £100,000 after admitting to fire safety breaches at a construction site and a Cardiff landlord was fined nearly £2,000 for failing to install smoke alarms;
  • A number of major retailers have also been caught out including New Look who following a fire that gutted their Oxford Street store were fined £400,000 after pleading guilty to failing to provide sufficient staff training and admitting to storage blocking escape routes.

Clearly then the costs of getting it wrong can be high!

Whether you have any doubts about the adequacy of fire safety measures in existing premises, you are in process of acquiring new premises or in the unfortunate event you suffer a fire or face enforcement action,  our experts here at CJCH Solicitors will be able to provide you with the expert legal advice and practical commercial considerations to assist you and your business.

CJCH Solicitors acquires Blackwood based, Patchell Davis

Cardiff based CJCH Solicitors has attained considerable media and industry coverage recently due to our rapid expansion strategy, dedication to client services, thought leadership in global anti-piracy, and commitment to supporting the Welsh community. We continue that trend for service excellence and geographical reach with the recent acquisition of Blackwood based solicitor firm, Patchell Davies.

Patchell Davies Solicitors opened its doors in Blackwood over 30 years ago and has been dedicated to supporting the legal services needs of the local and neighbouring communities ever since.

As of May 2017, Patchell Davies Solicitors was officially incorporated into CJCH Solicitors expanding the practice, already servicing clients around the globe, to six offices across the United Kingdom.

“CJCH is constantly looking to see how it can make the Welsh legal industry a more integrated and customer-centric one. We have achieved levels of working efficiencies and client service excellence that allow us to complete in local markets where pricing is under pressure. Growth has always been our strategy and we are delighted to acquire Patchell Davies who complement our teams of advisors” Nick Wootton, CJCH Chief Financial Officer and Merger & Acquisition Specialist.

 

 

 “We pride ourselves in offering dedicated, personalised and results-orientated legal services to the Welsh community, and now we are proud to have become part of a practice which aligns to our core values and strives for excellence and innovation on a global scale.” Howard Patchell, Director of Patchell Davies Solicitors.  

CJCH has a global Intellectual Property and Technology with a Global Anti-Piracy and Cyber Protection development program, these skills are being rolled out across the firm in pursuit of our goals of establishing Wales and a central hub for Cyber Security thought leadership. The acquisition of Patchell Davies Solicitors will further promote our rollout plan, as we will be identifying and up-skills selected team members within the new Blackwood office to ensure the capability is present in all CJCH offices, and for all CJCH clients.

“The acquisition of Patchell Davies sees us broaden our services into a new geographical area. Our journey to a true customer focused legal practice, with local Welsh values and International capabilities is a continuous and evolutionary one. We see the incorporation of Patchell Davis into the CJCH Group as a step in the right direction towards achieving this goal, and bringing world-class legal support to Wales.” Tim Hartland, Managing Partner – CJCH Solicitors.

CJCH Solicitors contact information: admin@cjch.co.uk; 0333 231 6405

For further information on CJCH Solicitors please visit our website at www.cjchsolicitors.co.uk.

 

Security of Tenure for Commercial Leases – What does it mean?

Security of Tenure for Commercial Leases

The Landlord and Tenant Act 1954 Part II (‘the Act’) confers security of tenure on business tenants and regulates the manner in which business tenancies can be terminated.

What does this mean? Sam Pearson, our commercial law trainee explains that firstly, a business tenancy will not come to an end at the expiration of a fixed term. Secondly the tenancy cannot be terminated unless the Landlord gives sufficient notice to quit.

The statutory right of renewal can be triggered if either the Landlord gives notice of termination or the Tenant requests a new tenancy. Notices must be prepared and served in the required format and within strict time periods. There are many pitfalls with the notice, drafting and procedure and we strongly recommend seeking professional advice.

A Landlord can only oppose a business tenancy protected by the Act on certain statutory grounds:

  • tenant’s failure to repair.
  • persistent delay in paying rent.
  • substantial breaches of other obligations.
  • offering suitable alternative accommodation.
  • demolition or reconstruction.
  • landlord’s intention to occupy the holding.

Compensation may be payable to the Tenant if the Landlord’s application is successful. If the Landlord’s opposition to a new tenancy fails and new terms are not agreed, then an application to Court will be required. A Judge will set the terms and rent after receiving expert evidence.

On taking a new commercial lease the parties may have agreed that the tenancy will not have any statutory right of renewal. In order to do so the Landlord must serve a notice on the Tenant in the prescribed form. The Tenant must make a formal declaration confirming receipt of the notice and accepting the absence of any statutory right of renewal.

Whether you’re looking to renew a commercial lease, seeking advice on a contested lease renewal or looking to contract out of the Act our experts at CJCH Solicitors are ideally placed to provide you with the right advice to suit your business needs.

Our commercial team are available to assist at commercial@cjch.co.uk, or on 0333 231 6405.

Welsh Landlords face fines of up to £250 and loss of rental income if non-compliant

CJCH Solicitors on RENT SMART WALES – 23 November 2016

rentsmartwales-logoAn estimated 50% of private landlords in Wales have yet to apply to Rent Smart Wales leaving them exposed to potential fines and legal action for non-compliance. If you own a property which is rented out on your behalf, or you manage your own rental property then as of this morning, 23 November 2016, the Housing (Wales) Act 2014 is already in place for you. Here’s everything you need to know:
Rent Smart Wales registration came into effect as of midnight which requires all private landlords to be registered. If you manage the property yourself, there is a further requirement for you to be licenced to do so.
The aim is to improve the standards of management in the private rental sector. Failure to comply is officially an offence and from today the enforcement powers are now active. A potential penalty of either £150 or £250 fine is applicable, with further action including being prevented from managing your properties altogether.
If you have your properties managed by an agent then you are only required to register and do not require a Licence. It is the agent’s responsibility to apply for a Licence (But you are responsible for ensuring that your chosen agent is licensed).

  1. Registration only:
    The registration costs £33.50 if you apply for it on-line and if you want to make a paper application this route will cost £88.50.
  2. Registration and Licence required:
    For private landlords who manage their own properties, in addition to registering there is a course which needs to be taken to enable you to obtain a licence to manage a property. Courses are offered separately and you must obtain a minimum mark of 70% to qualify. Once completed, you then apply for a Licence for which Rent Smart Wales will charge £144.00 (online) or £186.00 (paper application).

If you have not already applied for registration or a Licence you should arrange this as quickly as possible.
As a Landlord the Licence lasts for 5 years, but you have to provide accurate information about yourself and your properties and by law must keep your information up to date. This includes adding any additional properties you may acquire, or indeed sell, or any changes in your personal details.
The Licence may be granted with conditions attached and if you break the conditions or are considered no longer `fit and proper` then the Licence can be revoked which means you will no longer be able to undertake any letting or management activities.
Do not ignore your obligations to register as it may cause you problems in the future when you try to rent your properties
In addition to the penalties mentioned above, Rent Smart Wales can apply for a Rent Stopping Order or a Rent Repayment order. This would mean that if you try to rent a property without being registered or by using an unlicensed agent your tenant would not be liable for rent (would not be legally required to pay you rent) and you would not be able to serve a section 21 Notice to obtain possession of a property as an unregistered /unlicensed landlord.
It is not too late to get compliant. We can assist if you need advice or support.

 

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(Disclaimer: Information in this article is referenced from the Rent Smart and Welsh government Websites, with the Rent Smart Logo provided for identification)