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Buying a mixed-use property 21 December 2013

Mixed-use properties are becoming increasingly common, principally as a result of current planning policies.  Until recently, however, there has been no set of standard enquiries for solicitors to raise when buying a mixed-use property.  And it is surprising just how much information a new landlord needs to know before buying property that contains residential tenants.

This has now been remedied, with the launch of CPSE.6, a new member of the fantastic Common Property Standard Enquiries suite of documents (I have an interest to declare here – as a member of the London Property Support Lawyers Association, I had a large part to play in getting the CPSEs written and launched back in 2003).  CPSE.6 is entitled “Supplemental pre-contract enquiries for property subject to residential tenancies” and does what you would expect.  If you are buying a property subject to commercial tenancies, continue to raise CPSE.1 and CPSE.2.  If you are buying a property subject to residential tenancies, raise CPSE.1 and new CPSE.6.  And if you are buying a mixed-use property, you will need to raise CPSE.1, CPSE.2 and CPSE.6.

For further information about CPSE.6, click here.

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Land Registry fraud survey 16 December 2013

The Land Registry is conducting a short “fraud survey” through its website.  It is interested in the public’s views in relation to the collection of personal data for fraud prevention purposes.     Could the Land Registry be considering incorporating additional security into the land registration process, such as the need to input your mother’s maiden name or the name of your first dog when applying for registration ?  Currently too much emphasis is placed on the parties’ solicitors’ ID checks on new clients.  Several recent cases demonstrate that this is simply not sufficient, as it is still too easy for a fraudster to impersonate the registered proprietor.  Further (sensible) security measures will be welcomed by practitioners.

To respond to the Land Registry’s survey, click here.

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Serving notice to end an assured shorthold tenancy 15 December 2013

In Spencer v Taylor [2013] EWCA Civ 1600, the Court of Appeal has unexpectedly simplified the process of serving a notice to end an assured shorthold tenancy (AST).  The Housing Act 1988 provides that the landlord has to give at least two months’ notice to end a fixed-term AST.  However, in the case of a periodic AST, the notice must specify an end date that coincides with the last day of a tenancy period.

Which of these rules applies in the case of an AST that continues after its fixed term, becoming a periodic tenancy in the process?  It had been thought that the rule relating to periodic ASTs applies.  However Lewison LJ (with whom the other two judges agreed) has ruled that the only requirement is for the landlord to give at least two months’ notice.  The notice need not expire on the last day of a tenancy period.

Not all commentators are happy with the correctness of this decision (see this commentary for example), but it certainly simplifies life for landlords, and their agents and solicitors.

The transcript is available here.

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New alerting service from the Land Registry 8 December 2013

Property Alert is a free property-monitoring service from the Land Registry, aimed at anyone who feels their registered property could be at risk from fraud.  Essentially, that could be anyone fortunate enough not to have a mortgage on their property, particularly where the property is either vacant or tenanted.

Once you have signed up to the service, you will receive e-mail alerts when official searches and applications are received against your monitored properties, allowing you to take action if necessary.  You can monitor up to three properties at any one time, and they can be anyone’s properties.  I have signed up not just my property but those belonging to my mother and to my parents-in-law.

If a search or application is received against the protected property, the alert that is sent will contain the following information:

– the details of the property to which the alert relates
– name of the applicant for the application/search
– time and date when the Land Registry received the application/search
– unique reference number of the alert
– type of application/search

You can sign up to Property Alert here.

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Understanding Land Registry title numbers 8 December 2013

If you have ever wondered about how Land Registry title numbers are allocated, this recent Land Registry blog entry will interest you.

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