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Expert Witness : Building and Property

Changes in housing law on the way in wake of Grenfell tragedy

A legal review of the current housing law, carried out following the Grenfell Tower tragedy which killed 71 people last June, has called for sweeping changes to improve safety standards and protect tenants.

The report urges a cultural change so that those responsible for the health and safety of occupiers become proactive in fulfilling those responsibilities, says Liz Brady (pictured), a property specialist at Kent law firm Furley Page.

Liz says Closing The Gaps: Health and Safety at Home, a report commissioned by housing charity Shelter, could help to shape future legislation alongside other high-profile investigations, such as the ongoing official Public Enquiry headed by Sir Martin Moore-Bick. Dame Judith Hackitt has also recently published her preliminary findings on building regulations and fire safety.

Last Updated on Monday, 08 January 2018 15:46


Conveyancers in firing line over ground rents

In recent weeks there has been a deal of press and public indignation over ground rents that can double or more overnight. It is an issue that may be harbouring an avalanche of negligence claims against solicitors, according to Joshua Munro, a barrister at Hailsham Chambers.

He writes: “Purchasers of long-leasehold interests in property may regard themselves as the ‘owners’ of the property. However, many thousands have discovered that they are subject to covenants in favour of freeholders.

“When the true position is found out as to increasing ground rent liabilities, it is very likely that the long-leasehold owners will want to make claims. The problems are often remediable, via leasehold enfranchaisement and acquisition of a share of freehold, or an extension of the long lease’s term with reduction of ground rent to a peppercorn.

Last Updated on Friday, 15 September 2017 08:16


Rights of way and restrictive convenants two of the top issues for developers

Developers have been warned of the importance of ascertaining the details of rights of way and covenants before purchasing land for redevelopment.

Speaking at the “Real Estate Development – Buyer Beware” conference in Bristol last week, Ann Ebberson, partner at solicitors Rosling King, said that it was crucial that developers compare the land against the title and title plan, as some vital details are easy to miss.

Ebberson said: “I have seen a number of sites where the title plan boundary actually falls short of what is on the ground. In one of our most recent cases, the land owner very deliberately retained a strip of land at the front of the title, thus creating a rather nice ransom strip”

Rights of way

The most important things to consider, in terms of rights of way, are:

Last Updated on Monday, 03 July 2017 09:49


CIC provides updated guidance on adjudication

The Construction Industry Council (CIC) has published a new Users’ Guide to Adjudication, which replaces the previous guide from the Construction Umbrella Bodies Adjudication Task Group, produced in 2003.

Since its introduction in the late 1990s, adjudication has come to dominate alternative dispute resolution in the construction industry. Adjudication was envisaged as a process that construction companies could use with or without external professional assistance.

Over the years many novice users turned to the original Users’ Guide to Adjudication, to understand how adjudication works and to decide if it was a process that would help them.

The hope is that the new guide will assist both those who wish to take a dispute to adjudication and those who have received a notice of adjudication. 

Last Updated on Wednesday, 26 April 2017 12:54


Homebuyers take risks by foregoing surveys, says insurer

Research carried out by insurance company Churchill has revealed that 13 million homeowners have needed unexpected building work completed on their property since moving in. Over half of those who had major building work said knowing that in advance would have influenced their decision to buy the property.

Moreover, seven million did not have a survey completed on their current property. This includes 3.5 million people who did not have any type of independent checks completed and 3.6 million who assumed a mortgage valuation was sufficient. According to surveyors the most common three problems that can be detected by a building survey are damp, roof issues and subsidence.

The number of people who have at least a base level survey has increased over time: from 63% cent 20 years ago to 91% in the past 12 months. However, having a comprehensive building survey done has reduced significantly, from 28% 20 years ago to just 6% in the past 12 months.

Last Updated on Thursday, 24 November 2016 10:36