BDC

Search

Business : Legal News

Government’s Leasehold Reform Proposals come under the Spotlight at BTTJ Seminar for Property Professionals

Government’s Leasehold Reform Proposals come under the Spotlight at BTTJ Seminar for Property Professionals

The complexities of the government’s leasehold reform proposals affecting millions of homeowners came under the spotlight at a seminar organised by Coventry and Warwickshire’s law firm Brindley Twist Tafft & James and property experts ehB Residential Surveys. Forty invited guests – including estate agents, surveyors, private finance advisors and conveyancing

Read More »
Suspended prison sentence for builder over gas safety failures

Suspended prison sentence for builder over gas safety failures

A builder has avoided an immediate spell behind bars after being convicted of carrying out gas work at a property in Berkshire when he was not qualified to do so. Thomas Murray, who traded as Kerbgold Design and Construction Ltd, was given an eight-month prison sentence which was suspended for

Read More »
Proposed Tenancy reforms a Headache for Landlords says BTTJ

Proposed Tenancy reforms a Headache for Landlords says BTTJ

Millions of UK landlords will be adversely affected by proposed reforms designed to protect tenants against eviction from rental properties, a leading solicitor warns. The Renters Reform Bill will abolish the Section 21 notice which allows a landlord to evict tenants at the end of a fixed term without good

Read More »
CITB helps crack down on rogue traders, Asbestos Boss Ltd

CITB helps crack down on rogue traders, Asbestos Boss Ltd

Following an investigation carried out by Stockport Trading Standards and the HSE, UK Manager for Asbestos Boss Ltd, Daniel Cockcroft, has been brought to justice with the help of the CITB Quality & Standards Team. Stockport Trading Standards and the HSE were first alerted to the rogue traders back in

Read More »
New regulator takes major step forward

New regulator takes major step forward

Those responsible for the safety of high-rise residential buildings in England have six months from April to register with the new Building Safety Regulator. The Building Safety Regulator was established to protect high-rise residents from unsafe building practices in England in response to the Grenfell Tower fire. Under the Building

Read More »

Latest Issue

BDC 319 : Aug 2024

Business : Legal News

Unite secures access agreement for HS2 Old Oak Common after ‘relentless’ campaign

Unite secures access agreement for HS2 Old Oak Common after ‘relentless’ campaign

Agreement with BBVS leaves SCS only joint HS2 venture without union access agreement An agreement to allow trade union access to the HS2 Old Oak Common construction site has been signed yesterday (Tuesday 23 April) between joint venture company Balfour Beatty, Vinca, SYSTRA (BBVS) and Unite. The agreement secures the right of Unite representatives to visit the project’s inductions. It also allows Unite representatives access to rest facilities to talk to all the workers on the site during their breaks, in order to deal with any concerns or worries they may have. It was signed after a ‘relentless’ two-year campaign by Unite, which included regular demonstrations, leafletting workers and resolving their concerns. Unite general secretary Sharon Graham said: “This agreement is the culmination of two years of relentless campaigning by Unite to gain formal access to the Old Oak Common site. Construction workers can now speak directly to Unite about all employment and safety concerns. “Unite is now in a stronger position to help defend and improve jobs, pay and conditions for HS2 workers at Old Oak Common.” Unite now has site access agreements with four out of five of the joint venture companies working on HS2: BBVS, Align, EKFB and Mace/Dragados. The only joint venture company to remain without a site access agreement is Skanska, Costain, Strabag (SCS), which is responsible for the project’s London tunnels. Unite regional officer Declan Murphy said: “Agreeing trade union site access should be a matter of course for all construction contractors. But the successful campaign to achieve the agreement with BBVS shows that Unite will overcome any obstacle put in its way to ensure workers are not denied union access. Unite will now be turning its complete attention to securing a site access agreement for SCS workers.” Building, Design & Construction Magazine | The Choice of Industry Professionals

Read More »
Government’s Leasehold Reform Proposals come under the Spotlight at BTTJ Seminar for Property Professionals

Government’s Leasehold Reform Proposals come under the Spotlight at BTTJ Seminar for Property Professionals

The complexities of the government’s leasehold reform proposals affecting millions of homeowners came under the spotlight at a seminar organised by Coventry and Warwickshire’s law firm Brindley Twist Tafft & James and property experts ehB Residential Surveys. Forty invited guests – including estate agents, surveyors, private finance advisors and conveyancing lawyers were among those who attended the event at the Warwick Arms Hotel. The event follows Michael Gove’s plans to shake up England and Wales’s ‘feudal’ leasehold system were announced in the King’s speech in November. Gove said the proposed Leasehold Reform Act would overhaul the system and prevent developers from selling new houses under leasehold, ensuring a fairer deal for leaseholders. It would also make it easier and cheaper for leaseholders to extend their lease agreement or buy their freehold, giving them more control of the land on which their property is built. Alex Khan, Partner and Property Solicitor at BTTJ said the problems within the current system are compounded by issues such as multiple ground rents – the charge for renting the land from the freeholder – diminishing lease terms, excessive insurance commissions and overcharging of service charges. Under the current legislation the standard lease extension term is currently 90 years. The proposed new legislation will increase this to 990 years – saving leaseholders the headache of a long, complicated and expensive process of extending leases which can cost thousands of pounds. The reforms also aim to ensure service charges and ground rents are transparent and reasonable. The Conservatives have also promised greater transparency of the system, the banning of excessive insurance commissions and an end to the requirement for a new leaseholder to have owned their property for two years before being able to extend the lease or buy the freehold, resulting in a rising premium. They have pledged to remove the ‘marriage value’ cap meaning leaseholders with less than 80 years left on the lease will no longer have to share the hypothetical profit of the property with the freeholder, meaning they could potentially benefit by thousands of pounds. Alex Khan said the government is also proposing to allow leaseholders of mixed use properties with up to 50 per cent of non-residential floor space to buy the freehold and manage the building, a move which Mr Khan said would allow residential tenants who live above a business, but have no experience in commercial property, to manage their entire building. “Often referred to as ‘fleecehold’, leasehold is a diminishing asset.  It was first brought about by barons who would finance their crusades abroad by leasing their land to tenants for a peppercorn rent on the basis they knew the land would always be theirs. The system itself actually does work but in the last 20 years it has been abused, so what used to be an £8 ground rent is now £300, £500, going all the way up to £10,000 for the lifespan of a lease, and it prevents people from selling a property so the system has spiralled into an abyss.” Jonathan Selby explored a number of options which may be implemented by the government, including abolishing the marriage value or introducing a ground rent cap either at 0.1 per cent of the property value, or at £250.  Other option included re-setting the ground rent to the initial ground rent set out in the lease or freeze it at the current value. He said: “Mr Gove says he will have all of this in place before the general election scheduled for later this year, but realistically I think we could still be talking about this in four or five years’ time. The legislation that may go through may be so watered down that it barely affects anyone at all.” Conversely labour says it would scrap the leasehold system altogether within if it wins the general election. Building, Design & Construction Magazine | The Choice of Industry Professionals

Read More »
Stewart Milne Group workers Glasgow meeting - Friday 19th January

Stewart Milne Group workers Glasgow meeting – Friday 19th January

WHERE: John Smith House, 145-165 West Regent Street, G2 4RZ. WHEN: Friday 19 January from 12.00 noon until 3 pm Unite the union will hold a meeting on Friday (19 January) at John Smith House for workers impacted by the Stewart Milne group being placed into administration. This week, Unite held meetings in Aberdeen and Dundee to offer legal and employment support for former Stewart Milne Group workers. Unite has stated that it is actively exploring legal action against the company due to its failure to consult the workforce or Unite in a redundancy situation as ‘no notice’ was given.  Members of the Glasgow press are invited to come along at noon until 12.30 pm to conduct interviews with workers and Unite officers. The meeting thereafter will discuss prospective protective award claims and further support. Building, Design & Construction Magazine | The Choice of Industry Professionals

Read More »
Unite to hold meetings in Aberdeen and Dundee to offer legal support to Stewart Milne group workers

Unite to hold meetings in Aberdeen and Dundee to offer legal support to Stewart Milne group workers

Construction company placed in administration after workers given ‘no notice’ Unite the union recently confirmed on Friday 12th of December that it is to hold meetings in Aberdeen and Dundee today following the announcement that the Stewart Milne Group has been placed into administration. Unite stated this week that it is actively exploring legal action against the Stewart Milne Group due to its failure to consult the workforce or Unite in a redundancy situation as ‘no notice’ was given.  The two meetings to be held on TODAY will take place at: ·         10.30am to 12.30pm  – Dundee – Apex Hotel, 1 West Victoria Dock Road, Dundee, DD1 3JP. ·         2.30pm to 5pm – Aberdeen – the Beach Ballroom, Beach Promenade, AB24 5NR. Members of the press are invited to attend sections of these meetings but some will be reserved exclusively for workers to discuss protective award claims and further legal support. Interviews with workers can be facilitated by Unite officers at the venues upon request. Unite represents over 60 tradespersons at the construction company in various locations including in Aberdeen, Dundee, Edinburgh and Glasgow.  Unite general secretary, Sharon Graham, said: “Unite will do everything possible to support the Stewart Milne Group workers. The company has treated its loyal workforce disgracefully.” The administrator’s Teneo stated that 217 trade roles will be lost but it is feared that hundreds more in the supply chain will lose their jobs. Unite has demanded the Scottish Government and local authorities urgently work with the union to explore how the workers can be found suitable alternative employment on public procurement contracts. It has since emerged that the Partnership Action for Continuing Employment (PACE) will be hosting two webinars – one was last Friday at 2pm, and an upcoming one on the 16 January at 10am for employees affected by redundancy. Unite has criticised the Scottish Government and PACE for this approach stating the hosting of webinars ‘fails to understand the nature of the construction industry’. Unite is highlighting evidence which indicates construction workers face greater reading and writing difficulties, and IT proficiency challenges compared to other workers. The union is therefore demanding public meetings, organised by PACE and the Scottish Government, in the various locations to fully support the workers.      John Clark, Unite industrial officer, added: “Unite will be stepping up our efforts to provide legal support for the Stewart Milne Group workers by hosting these meetings in Aberdeen and Dundee. We are crystal clear that the company has acted in a potentially unlawful way, and these events will help our members make protective award claims.” “It’s also extremely disappointing to discover that PACE will be hosting two webinars instead of physical events. We hope this is immediately reviewed because it fails to understand the nature of the construction industry and the proficiency challenges which many workers face.” Building, Design & Construction Magazine | The Choice of Industry Professionals

Read More »
Nearly half of contractors are not part of an ADR scheme set to become compulsory next year

Nearly half of contractors are not part of an ADR scheme set to become compulsory next year

Two-fifths (42%) of UK contractors are not part of an alternative dispute resolution (ADR) scheme despite the fact that it could become mandatory in 2024, reveals new research.  Commissioned by Dispute Assist, the UK’s leading dispute resolution provider, the survey of 200 home improvement contractors found that many are not utilising dispute resolution services even though more than a third (36%) have previously had an unhappy customer make a court claim against them.  This is partly due to the fact that almost three in ten (28%) of contractors do not know what ADR is. A concerning finding considering that since 2015, it’s been a legal requirement for traders to signpost consumers to an approved ADR provider when they are unable to resolve a complaint.  ADR is an effective route to resolving disputes in the home improvement sector. It includes methods such as mediation, conciliation and expert determination which help to avoid lengthy and expensive legal proceedings, enabling both parties to move on in a mutually beneficial manner.  Encouragingly, 38% of those not currently part of a scheme said that they would be interested in signing up, suggesting that with a greater level of education on ADR, there is an appetite amongst contractors to get on board.   Of the tradespeople who were aware of ADR, 80% are part of a scheme, indicating a high level of awareness within this group of the benefits it can bring. Nearly half (46%) of contractors who are part of a scheme are in one via a trade body or association meaning that these organisations can play a key role in raising awareness of dispute resolution amongst members and providing access to these services.  For those who are not currently part of a scheme, the most widely cited reasons for this were that they are too expensive (40%) and that contractors are unsure of how to choose a scheme (33%). Despite 43% spending between two and five hours a month dealing with complaints, a third felt that there isn’t enough of a need to be part of a scheme.  Commenting on the findings, Ciarán Harkin, managing director of Dispute Assist, said: “With consumer disputes becoming more frequent as the number of home improvement projects increases, contractors who are not part of an ADR scheme are leaving themselves vulnerable to legal action and reputational damage, even if they’re not at fault.  “It’s clear that there is a need for greater education and awareness around the ADR process to provide contractors with the means to make an informed decision about whether to join a scheme. With mandatory ADR on the horizon, home improvement contractors must be clued up on what ADR is, how it works and the benefits that it brings.  “When it comes to the reasons why contractors are not part of a scheme, it’s interesting to note that a third feel there isn’t a need when a high proportion of home improvement tradespeople are facing customer disputes each year.   “Where cost is a barrier, contractors should investigate different providers and look for a scheme which suits their individual budget. Beyond this, for those struggling to choose a scheme, other factors such as the range of services offered, the speed of resolution and the independence and reputation of the scheme should be considered.”  Building, Design & Construction Magazine | The Choice of Industry Professionals 

Read More »
Suspended prison sentence for builder over gas safety failures

Suspended prison sentence for builder over gas safety failures

A builder has avoided an immediate spell behind bars after being convicted of carrying out gas work at a property in Berkshire when he was not qualified to do so. Thomas Murray, who traded as Kerbgold Design and Construction Ltd, was given an eight-month prison sentence which was suspended for 18 months. Reading Crown Court heard how Murray had been contracted to manage a large-scale renovation and extension of a property in Maidenhead in July 2018. The project involved significant gas work, including the installation of a gas boiler, relocation of a gas meter and the installation of associated pipework for both. Further information and guidance on domestic gas health and safety is available. However, the project over ran and the householders had to return to the property in January 2019, where they soon reported the smell of gas. Murray carried out a test which detected no gas leak.  As their concerns persisted, the homeowners contacted a Gas Safe Registered engineer to inspect the installation. The engineer found a gas leak and other faults within the installation. In addition, Cadent Gas, the gas supplier to the property, had never been notified about the relocation of the meter and pipework. The pipework leading to the meter was found to have been laid to incorrect depth and fittings suitable only for water pipework had been found to have been used throughout the installation. An investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) found that although Murray arranged for a Gas Safe engineer to install the boiler, they had only connected the water plumbing and left the property due to concerns being raised. In a bid to allow the homeowners to access hot water and heating, Murray decided to undertake some of the gas work himself as a temporary fix. Murray, of Heath End Road, Flackwell Heath, Buckinghamshire, pleaded guilty to breaching section 3(2) of the Health Safety at Work Act 1974 and was sentenced to eight months in prison, suspended for 18 months. He was also ordered to complete 250 hours unpaid work. Speaking after the hearing, HSE inspector Karen Morris said: “In this case, Mr Murray was responsible for overseeing the gas work, which was not finished and had left householders and their neighbours at risk from the dangers and effects of leaking gas. “To make matters worse, he decided to try and finish the job himself, despite not being competent to do so. “His failures could have led to catastrophic and tragic consequences. “We will not hesitate to prosecute builders who fail to ensure that gas work under their control is conducted safely using Gas Safe Registered engineers.” Gas engineers and consumers can contact the Gas Safe Register in any of these ways: Building, Design & Construction Magazine | The Choice of Industry Professionals 

Read More »
Proposed Tenancy reforms a Headache for Landlords says BTTJ

Proposed Tenancy reforms a Headache for Landlords says BTTJ

Millions of UK landlords will be adversely affected by proposed reforms designed to protect tenants against eviction from rental properties, a leading solicitor warns. The Renters Reform Bill will abolish the Section 21 notice which allows a landlord to evict tenants at the end of a fixed term without good reason. The changes to the law – designed to protect the UK’s 11 million tenants and provide them with safer, fairer and higher quality homes – will bring in greater restrictions on landlords whose reasons for wanting to evict their tenants do not meet a certain criteria. The Bill is currently going through Parliament and is expected to become law next year. Kristy Ainge is Solicitor-Advocate in the Litigation Team at Coventry and Warwickshire based Brindley Twist Tafft & James (BTTJ). She said the new laws were designed to crack down on no-fault evictions. “The main change is that a landlord cannot ask a tenant to leave if, for example, they want to move a friend into their property, or if for any reason they just don’t like them,” Kristy said. “The only way they can evict their tenants who are “not at fault”, is if they want to live there themselves, or move an immediate family member in, or if they want to sell the property. Even then, it will not be a quick process, because, if a landlord wishes to move into the property themselves, they cannot serve notice within the first 6 months of the tenancy. The changes will also allow tenancies to roll month by month meaning landlords who previously were entitled to six or 12 months’ tenancies will now be periodic and determined by the frequency that rent is paid. This gives tenants much more flexibility and removes the security for landlords knowing they have a tenant in situ for 6/12 months. The reforms will give more rights to tenants who want to keep pets too. Under current legislation a blanket ban on all pets is allowed. Most landlords take advantage of the ban for fear of potential damage caused by the animals to the property. Under new proposals, still to be discussed, a tenant has the right to request to keep a pet and the landlord will have no right to refuse the request without good reason. However, they may ask their tenant to cover pet insurance and home insurance to cover any damage. Tenants who fall behind with the rent or who are causing anti-social behaviour are not protected by the laws and may still be evicted by their landlord in the usual way under the section 8 notice regime. Kristy said: “The new reforms will give tenants more protection but restricts what landlords can do with their own properties. “There are expected to be some exceptions such as private student lets, though this is yet to be confirmed.” For further advice contact BTTJ at https://www.bttj.com/contact-us/

Read More »
Irwin Mitchell Boosts Real Estate Disputes Team with new Partner Appointment in London

Irwin Mitchell Boosts Real Estate Disputes Team with new Partner Appointment in London

National law firm’s property division now has 29 partners and over 150 qualified lawyers National law firm Irwin Mitchell is expanding its Real Estate Disputes Team with the recruitment of a new partner, William Scott, who will be based in the firm’s London office. The appointment takes the specialist disputes team to 25, including four partners and four senior associates, based in offices across the UK.  The team is jointly led by partners Danny Revitt and Tim Rayner and sits within Irwin Mitchell’s Property Division which will now number 29 partners and over 150 qualified lawyers. Will will be working with London Head of Real Estate Disputes, partner Paul Henson in a team of seven specialist real estate disputes lawyers in London. He joins Irwin Mitchell from Bates Wells where he was Head of Real Estate Disputes since April 2019, having joined the firm as a solicitor in 2008. Will has extensive experience of working for both landlords and tenants advising on all aspects of disputes relating to commercial landlord and tenant relationships. He has particular expertise in acting for corporate occupiers, charities, retailers, unions, educational establishments and individuals. Day to day work includes advising on service charge disputes, dilapidations claims, all aspects of exits from property, lease renewals, forfeitures and possession claims. He has also built up a reputation amongst clients and led on ESG property related matters, business rates, telecoms issues and the Real Estate aspects of the impact economy. He is a member of the Property Litigation Association. Danny Revitt, Joint Head of Real Estate Disputes at Irwin Mitchell said, “Will’s arrival will be a real boost to our national Real Estate Disputes practice, particularly in London, where we are already highly regarded but are keen to develop and grow the team further. His expertise in ESG, business rates and telecoms will further strengthen our offer as these are key issues our clients are concerned about and wish us to help address.” Tim Rayner, Joint Head of Real Estate Disputes at Irwin Mitchell added, “Our national Real Estates Disputes Team has more than doubled in size in the last five years, reflecting the challenges investors, developers and occupiers face in the modern real estate industry. We have a strong and sizeable practice already but look forward to working with Will to further strengthen our offer to clients. We wish him a warm welcome.” Irwin Mitchell has continued to invest heavily in its team focused on the corporate, property and institutions audience. Earlier this year it announced the arrival of construction partner Robert Tunningley, banking partner Jeremy Ladyman,  two corporate/property tax partners, Kate Featherstone and Jennie Newton and most recently corporate partner Geraint Lloyd. The firm is committed to the ESG agenda and has developed its own service for clients. Building, Design & Construction Magazine | The Choice of Industry Professionals 

Read More »
CITB helps crack down on rogue traders, Asbestos Boss Ltd

CITB helps crack down on rogue traders, Asbestos Boss Ltd

Following an investigation carried out by Stockport Trading Standards and the HSE, UK Manager for Asbestos Boss Ltd, Daniel Cockcroft, has been brought to justice with the help of the CITB Quality & Standards Team. Stockport Trading Standards and the HSE were first alerted to the rogue traders back in September 2021, when the company removed the asbestos insulating board from a domestic garage, with little to no control measures in place. The investigation later revealed several similar cases, with one case deemed such poor quality that the site owners received quotes up to £64,000 to put it right. As part of the investigation, Stockport Trading Standards contacted CITB in December 2021 to run checks against documentation Mr Cockcroft produced, claiming to hold a CITB Site Safety Plus qualification. Ian Sidney, CITB’s Fraud Manager, investigated and confirmed that Mr Cockcroft did not hold any form of CSCS card or Site Safety Plus qualification. Asbestos Boss Ltd were not only producing counterfeit documents but also using an unauthorised CITB logo on their website to reel customers into thinking they had achieved accreditation. In Manchester Magistrates Court, Judge Begley remarked that the nature and gravity of Mr Cockcroft’s offending was plain to see and that he was central to the offences. He then stated that he considered Mr Cockcroft’s actions to be “rogue trading at its worst.” He made it clear that he considered the implications for serious health issues in the future from exposures caused by Mr Cockcroft to be an aggravating feature in the case. CITB provided a witness statement to the case, producing evidence of the findings and details of the trademarks held by CITB. Following this, Stockport Trading Standards brought a charge of fraud by false representation contrary to section 1(2)(a) of the Fraud Act 2006 against the company and directors in relation to the falsifying of documents with the intent to deceive, as well as unauthorised use of trade and accreditation logos, designed to give an impression of competence.   Judge Begley said that the quality and weight of evidence against Asbestos Boss Ltd was overwhelming, and he found them guilty of all charges. Mr Cockcroft was sentenced to six months imprisonment for the HSE charges and a further four months for the Trading Standards offence relating to fraud and deception. Chris Simpson, CITB Head of Quality and Standards, said: “Falsifying health and safety qualifications means that the holder has not demonstrated the professional competence and awareness of health and safety legislation that is required for them to work safely in the construction industry. We are committed to identifying and stamping out any kind of cheating or deception to ensure that members of the public are kept safe, with an industry that they can rely on. “CITB welcomes the sentencing which sends a clear message to individuals and companies flouting health and safety regulations that we will not in any way tolerate this, and that we will work with local authorities, Trading Standards and the HSE to counter rogue traders.” Anyone who has information can report their concerns confidentially to Trading Standards, HSE or CITB via report.it@citb.co.uk. Building, Design & Construction Magazine | The Choice of Industry Professionals 

Read More »
New regulator takes major step forward

New regulator takes major step forward

Those responsible for the safety of high-rise residential buildings in England have six months from April to register with the new Building Safety Regulator. The Building Safety Regulator was established to protect high-rise residents from unsafe building practices in England in response to the Grenfell Tower fire. Under the Building Safety Act, high-rise residential buildings which are 18 metres tall or higher, or at least seven storeys, with two or more residential units are defined as ‘higher-risk’. Across England there are approximately 12,500 of these buildings and the new regulator will require all of them to be registered from April 2023, with a named person responsible for maintaining their safety. “This registration process is an important step towards building a safer future for residents of high-rise buildings. We want it to be clear where responsibility for safety in these buildings lies. As the Building Safety Regulator, we will draw from our experience to provide guidance and oversight for the industry and lay the foundation for a world-leading building safety regime, which is a part of our mission to protect people and places,” said HSE Chief Executive Sarah Albon. A new campaign aimed at owners and managers of high-rise residential buildings will highlight their new legal duties. It will call on those responsible for the safety management of higher-risk buildings to prepare for a new wave of regulatory change to ensure that they are ready to step up and comply. The registration process is a crucial stage in setting up the new building safety regime. Registering buildings in scope will be a legal requirement and owners and managers who fail to comply by October 2023 will be investigated and may face prosecution. “Our message is clear – industry must raise its standards and residents of high-rise buildings in England must be kept safe. This is a landmark moment for building safety, the information provided through registration will be an invaluable part of our crackdown on unsafe building practices. Those who are responsible for high-rise residential buildings must register; failure to do so will be against the law,” added Chief Inspector of Buildings Peter Baker. Building registration is a major step in a package of measures to ensure high-rise residential buildings are safe for residents and users. It follows the introduction of Planning Gateway One in August 2021 and will be followed by more robust building control of high-rise developments, and the certification of occupied high-rise buildings by the new Regulator. Building, Design & Construction Magazine | The Choice of Industry Professionals

Read More »