From shifting regulations to new and surprising motions in court, property law is an ever-changing and often complicated landscape to conquer, writes Denise Bull, partner and head of commercial property, Dutton Gregory.
Property lawyers need to be quick on their feet and prepared to innovate with an acute awareness of all commercial practicalities and implications of any changes. Here at Dutton Gregory, we continually look at changing trends and updates, making sure that we’re ahead of the curve in delivering sensible practical advice to achieve successful outcomes for our clients.
Growth and expertise
Our property teams have seen considerable growth over the past 12 months. Our most recent development is the relocation of our commercial property team back into the hub of Winchester.
Following the move of our Winchester office to newly refurbed premises on Jewry Street earlier this year, we continue to strengthen our position as local property experts. The commercial property team will be back in Winchester to support the already-established residential property team, offering a full and local service in Winchester as well as across Hampshire and Dorset.
From our commercial property services through to property disputes and landlord and tenant issues; our teams work together in a balance between the wealth of experience provided by our partners and the vibrant forward-thinking enthusiasm from the younger members of the team. Delivering this knowledgeable yet fresh approach, we can provide our clients with the highest quality, efficient and dedicated service and support.
This was highlighted in the most recent The Legal 500 listings, which stated: “The team at Dutton Gregory stands out for its ability to assist clients with ‘understanding any technical issues which arise and helping to resolve the legal problems all the way to a conclusion’.”
It’s important to have a team like this around you as we see many changes and developments within the property industry which are vital to keep up with.
Some of the most significant recent developments have been around the Stamp Duty Land Tax (SDLT) regime. As well as ongoing
consultations which could see the introduction of an extra level of tax for non-UK residents and companies buying homes in Britain, we’ve also seen changes to the deadline for paying SDLT.
It’s now necessary to file the tax return and pay any SDLT due within 14 days of the effective date of the transaction, reduced from 30 days. Our clients will be required to pay SDLT, and any other monies due at completion, in advance of the actual completion date. By not doing so, clients may find the truncated period to settle any claims leading to additional fines and penalties.
However, this is not the only change we’ve have seen of late. Following the Dreamvar case, the Law Society has issued new guidance on the code for completion by post which is adopted by residential conveyancers and commercial property lawyers alike. Changes have been introduced to vary the undertakings given at completion, making it clear that the acting solicitor is only authorised for a genuine transaction. Don’t be surprised therefore if your lawyer asks more searching questions about your financial background. There’s nothing personal, it’s just our way of dealing with the new regulations.
HMRC has also recently been investigating estate agents for failing to obtain client’s identity and information on source of funds. Solicitors have long been the target of anti-money laundering regulations and, in particular, residential transactions are used to obtain information as to the veracity of client finances. The new regulations, and focus on estate agencies, will not be a comfortable situation following the perceived slump in the residential housing market.
Another thing to keep an eye on is the developing news around buy-to-let properties and their landlords. Recent studies suggest a reduction in the number of these properties purchased, and an ARLA survey suggests a quarter of landlords are considering selling at least one property in the next 12 months. With the tenant fee ban and current Section 21 consultation intended to limit landlords’ ability to secure possession orders against tenants, the property landscape is likely to change for both landlords and tenants.
While the property market on the South Coast continues to appear relatively buoyant, participants in these markets will be viewing current affairs with interest and hoping that the buoyancy continues.
Our commercial property team will be regularly available in Winchester between now and their permanent relocation later in the summer, so get in touch if you have any questions or would like an informal chat.
You can contact a member of our team by telephone or email:
023 8022 1344