About VOiD

    WHAT IS A PROPERTY SURVEY?

    Every year, nearly a million people buy a property to live in or to rent out to tenants. Money spent on a survey could save you thousands by providing ammunition for negotiating a price reduction – or by making you think twice about buying at all.

    Depending on which level of survey you choose, the surveyor may advise on:

    • Checking the condition of your property
    • Current or future minor and major repairs and costs
    • Identifying how much it would cost to re-build the property for insurance purposes
    • Giving an independent view on the property’s value
    • Advising of any further checks the property will require

    DIFFERENT TYPES OF PROPERTY SURVEY

    There are 5 different levels and types of surveys to consider when buying a home. Some are unavoidable, such as mortgage valuations. Others, although not a legal requirement, are worth considering to verify the condition and safety of the property.

    1. Mortgage valuation

    Buyers often consider a mortgage valuation as the equivalent to a survey but it isn’t. The sole aim of the mortgage valuation is to satisfy the lender that your desired property is worth the price you’re paying – or at least the amount it’s lending, before they approve your mortgage. A mortgage valuation is carried out by a member of the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS).

    1. Snagging surveys

    If you are buying a new-build, it should have passed building regulation inspections and have a certificate from an insurance company such as Zurich or the National House Building Council. This doesn’t mean it doesn’t need checking, though. A snagging survey looks for mistakes made by building contractors, such as poorly painted walls, missing screws on door hinges and wonky switches. The benefit of this survey is that by ensuring on exchange that completion is subject to fixing any problems highlighted in a snagging survey, the developer would need to put these things right to get their money.

    The Law Practice have a dedicated New Build  Conveyancing department based in Walsall, West Midlands. If you require any further information on the process of buying a new build property, please visit our new build page. *insert new build page link*

    1. Home condition report

    This survey is for anyone buying a property that appears to be in ‘good condition’ but would still benefit from being checked for potential problems you may not see, such as hidden damp, woodworm or structural movement. The report will help cost likely future repairs.

    1. Homebuyers report

    A survey of this nature is typically for properties that have been built since the Victorian age. The report will mirror the Home Condition Report and include advice and possibly an independent valuation of the property. If the value of the property suggested is less than you have offered, don’t panic; it doesn’t mean you have to pull out of the sale. Talk to the surveyor about how easy and expensive it will be to fix any problems. Use this information to negotiate the price down. Your conveyancer and surveyor will be experienced with these negotiations, so use them to help you.

    1. Building survey

    This survey is vital for older character properties and properties of ‘non-standard’ construction such as timber. It’s also wise to have this survey if you are planning major works such as a loft conversion or extension. A building survey looks in great detail at the condition and any defects the property may have and potential to extend. If agreed, the surveyor would also give detailed costings of rectifying problems.

    THINGS YOU CAN LOOK OUT FOR;

    There are a few things you can look out for and draw to your surveyor’s attention.

    If you are looking to purchase a property, in or around Birmingham, Walsall, Coventry, Stratford Upon Avon, London, Hertfordshire, contact our experienced Conveyancing Departments for a no obligation chat.

    0121 778 2371 – Walsall

    0121 358 7001 – Great Barr Birmingham

    0207 167 4899 – London

    01789 552 872 – Stratford Upon Avon

    Or email info@lplawfirm.com

     

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    What It Means To You


    After 4 years of preparation and debate the GDPR was finally approved by the EU Parliament on 14 April 2016. On 25th May 2018, the new General Data Protection Regulation (GDRP) will come into force. The GDPR replaces the existing Data Protection Act 1998 governing how data is managed. It applies to all businesses in the European Union (EU). The GDPR will form part of UK law following the countries withdrawal from the EU. The GDPR was designed to harmonize data privacy laws across Europe because of developments in internet and cloud technologies. There are now so many ways to collect and store personal data that new measures are required to ensure that personal data is kept safe and is only kept for legitimate purposes.

    What Constitutes Personal Data?


    Any information related to a natural person or ‘Data Subject’, that can be used to directly or indirectly identify the person. It can be anything from a name, a photo, an email address, bank details, posts on social networking websites, medical information, or a computer IP address.

    GDPR Timeline Of Events


    Penalties For Non-Compliance


    GDPR places a strong emphasis on accountability and transparency, holding businesses accountable for safeguarding the collection, usage and storage of client personal data. Companies that use 3rd party software such as payroll or accounts packages will need to ensure these systems are GDPR compliant. Businesses are required to identify a lawful basis for processing client personal data fairly, accurately and be kept in a form which permits the identification of data subjects for no longer than is necessary. It is advised that businesses ensure that they have detailed procedures in place to detect, report and investigate a personal data breach. Failure to prevent a data breach can result in fines up to 4% of the total annual worldwide revenue or €20 Million. There is a tiered approach to fines e.g. a company can be fined 2% for not having their records in order, not notifying the supervising authority and data subject about a breach or not conducting impact assessment. It is important to note that these rules apply to both controllers and processors — meaning ‘clouds’ will not be exempt from GDPR enforcement.


    TLP has outsourced a professional GDPR audit company to make sure our client have peace of mind that their data is secure. Further guidance in relation to complying with the GDPR requirements can be found on the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) website – https://ico.org.uk/

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    Poppi Herald talks about her work and explains what it is like to be an apprentice Legal Assistant with The Law Practice (UK) Ltd.

    What made you choose an apprenticeship and what is your current role?

    For years I have known law is my destined career. I find the subject so fascinating yet so vast – there are so many different types of sectors within law. This is one of the factors which initially sparked my interest, you can never be bored as there will always be something new to investigate. So, knowing that there is an apprenticeship to get your foot in the door was amazing to me! It makes me so happy knowing that TLP have taken a chance on me. At current, I assist in Commercial Dispute Resolution and Civil Litigation which covers a lot of different things! 

    What’s your typical day like?

    My typical day is corresponding with clients, other solicitors etc. I work alongside a senior solicitor who is great at teaching me about the profession. It is a constant learning curve for me!

    What is your proudest achievement since joining The Law Practice (UK) Ltd?

    Probably finding out that The Law Practice (UK) Ltd wanted to take me on – considering how much I wanted my job! As previously said, I just felt so lucky that there was a firm out there that wanted to give me this opportunity. I am still immensely grateful for the opportunity.

    What are the key things you’ve learned since joining?

    Probably organisation… I have never been a non-organised person but being at The Law Practice (UK) Ltd has advanced these skills for me – and timekeeping!

    Where do you see your career in five years?

    Joining The Law Practice (UK) Ltd at an early age ensures I have many years ahead of me to be able to expand my knowledge and become my overall goal, a solicitor. So, in 5 years’ time I hope I will be getting at least a tiny bit closer to becoming one!

    What’s your favourite thing about working for TLP?

    My favourite thing about working where I do is that everybody is so helpful and on-hand with guidance and support. I am never made to feel that I am annoying anybody by asking as many questions as I do.

    In your opinion, what makes law a career that young people should consider?

    It is so interesting! No client or case is the same. There is such variation, it is not like a job you go to everyday and it will be the same – I think having different things to focus on is a real positive! And you can manage yourself, and your own time. I find the subject so fascinating yet so vast – there are so many different types of sectors within law. This is one of the factors which initially sparked my interest, you can never be bored as there will always be something new to investigate.

    What advice would you give to a candidate interested in a legal apprenticeship?

    For anybody considering a career within the industry I strongly advise to go for it! There is nothing to lose but SO much to gain. Lawyers/solicitors are always going to be needed and as previously stated, no case is ever the same.

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    Over half of the adult population do not have a Will in place leaving their final wishes in the hands of the Governments Intestacy Rules.

    There are many cheap Will writing options available today in the form of Will writing kits and online versions but are these suffice in dealing with your wishes?

    Some of the mistakes people make too often when writing their own final wishes are:

    • Forgetting to appoint executors to deal with the administration of their estate and make sure final wishes are carried out.
    • Not dealing with all of their assets. They make mention of the house/cars/jewellery etc and fail to mention other assets or financial policies.
    • Referring to specific assets which might change by the time they have died
    • Not getting the Will signed and witnessed properly. To be valid in the United Kingdom, the Will must be signed in the presence of two independent witnesses, who must both be present when the testator signs. The witnesses then sign in the testator’s presence.
    • Making amendments to the Will after it has been signed and witnessed.
    • Losing the Will.
    • Failing to write a Letter of Wishes.

    Critically using a Solicitor means you will get the right advice based on questions the Solicitor will ask you.

    This includes advice on Inheritance Tax, severing a tenancy, making sure family are looked after, making sure home or medical care is accounted for if necessary, funeral arrangements and much more.

    Many people have complicated family arrangements now, second (or third) marriages, stepchildren and/or adopted children. Wills for these circumstances can take time to get right, and require skilled legal knowledge.

    Spending more and having a qualified legal professional write your wishes can ultimately save much more financially down the line if the Will is contested.

    If your car was broken you would take it to a mechanic to fix, if you had a leak, you would call out a plumber – professionals who know their trade.

    For a Will – use a qualified Solicitor!

    For a no-obligation chat about your circumstances, contact our Wills and Probate team today.

    For further information about the importance of writing a will, visit our dedicated Wills and Probate page.

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    The Law Practice UK Ltd is delighted to announce the official opening of its 4th office in Stratford Upon Avon.

    Stratford upon Avon is set in the beautiful rural countryside of Warwickshire and is most famous for its association with William Shakespeare. Shakespeare was born in 1564 in a half-timbered house on Henley Street. He attended the local grammar school and after a successful life in London returned to Stratford to the house known as New Place, where he died in 1616. Shakespeare lays to rest in the parish church of Holy Trinity.

    Stratford upon Avon is one of the most popular tourist destinations in Britain offering visitors a superb riverside setting, historic houses, a famous theatre, thriving street market, excellent shops, and restaurants. The town is easily accessible by road and by water along the River Avon. Stratford is situated on the edge of the Cotswolds which allows residents and visitors to explore some of the most beautiful villages in England.

    The Stratford Upon Avon office is located in the center of town in the new Elizabeth House development next to the council offices. Victoria Whistler heads up the conveyancing department and lives locally so has extensive knowledge of the local property market and the legal knowledge required to deal with all manner of conveyances.

    The Stratford Upon Avon office is a natural addition to the Law Practice UK Ltd other offices in the Midlands including the head office in Walsall and a branch in Great Barr.

    Areas of Law we cover:

    • Conveyancing
    • New Build Conveyancing
    • Civil Litigation
    • Family Law
    • Debt Recovery
    • Personal Injury
    • Employment Law
    • Wills And Probate (including Jewish Halachic and Islamic wills)
    • Landlords & Tenants
    • Regulatory Advice

    Please feel free to pop in and see the team to discuss any legal requirements you may have, alternatively call us on 0121 778 2371 or email Victoria.whistler@lplawfirm.com

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    Landlords should now be familiar with the prescribed legal requirements introduced by the Deregulation Act 2015 that must be provided before they are able to serve a Section 21 Notice. These are namely

    – The requirement to provide the ‘How to Rent Guide’

    -The requirement to provide an energy performance certificate (EPC) to a tenant free of charge;

    -The requirement to provide a tenant with a gas safety record.

    Landlords should be aware that the three-year transition period is due to end in October 2018 and therefore may affect tenancies granted before 1 October 2015.

    Since the introduction of these requirements, there has been question’s about whether a failure to provide a gas safety certificate at the beginning of a tenancy can be rescued by a later certificate. Recent case law has held that it cannot (however there is debate whether this approach is a true reflection of the legal position, see here.

    Therefore, it may be that if there is a failure to provide the gas safety record to any new tenant before that tenant occupies the property then this could be an absolute bar on serving a Section 21 Notice. In these circumstances, the landlord would need to rely on one of the grounds for serving a section 8 notice such as rent arrears.

    The message to Landlords is clear, fail to comply with the prescribed requirements at your peril as it may leave you with no route to regain possession of your property unless the tenant has broken the terms of their agreement.

    For further information, guidance or advice contact Ashley Byrne of The Law Practice Landlord and Tenant team on 0121 778 2371 or email ashley.byrne@lplawfirm.com

    The purpose of this blog is to provide information and discussion. Nothing on this blog should be relied upon as a substitute for legal advice from a qualified solicitor regarding any actual legal issue or dispute. Nothing on this website should be construed as legal advice or perceived as creating a solicitor-client relationship. Please note that we cannot give advice on individual’s situations or problems on this blog.

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    What is a declaration of trust?

    A declaration of trust is a document that confirms the proportions in which two or more individuals own a property.

    If two or more people are purchasing a property together they may want to purchase as tenants in common. This declaration of trust for tenants in common records each person’s contribution and therefore the proportions of the property they own.

    Unlike joint tenancy, tenants in common can specify their distinct share in the property. This document sets out the respective beneficial interest of each tenant in common based on their contributions to the deposit, mortgage and ongoing maintenance.

    Creating this declaration of trust when purchasing is important when the property is sold as it ensures that each homeowner gets a fair portion of what they put into the property.

    Why do I need a declaration of trust?

    You need a declaration of trust when you are buying property as tenants in common with one or more people and you want to carve out distinct shares. Upon the sale of the property, you will receive back the same percentage of the proceeds as you put in of the distinct share. It is also possible to leave your distinct share to someone in your will, which is not possible to do if you are joint tenants.

    When to use

    Use this declaration of trust

    • If you are buying a property as tenants in common with one or more people and all parties wish to confirm how their contributions to the following are to be made:
    • purchase price;
    • mortgage payments; and
    • maintenance of the property

    What it covers

    This declaration of trust enables homeowners

    • To have a legal document which confirms the actual proportions in which owners own their homes
    • To confirm the actual amounts originally spent by each party in terms of a percentage amount
    • To confirm the proportions to be repaid to each homeowner when the property is sold
    • To specify the parties’ contributions for the payment of the mortgage and maintenance obligations
    • To prevent arguments as to who gave what at the beginning and who should get what when a property comes to be sold

    The declaration of trust is a purely personal agreement and the obligations you have to your lender mortgage company will always remain joint and several, whatever you state in this deed. It will always remain a fact that if one of you fails to pay the mortgage, the other is/others are wholly responsible.

    How many parties can enter into declaration of trust?

    Any number of parties can enter into a declaration of trust.

    What steps do you need to take before entering into this agreement?

    Work out very carefully the proportions in which you and the other trustees will own the property and remember to include the costs of the purchase in your calculations, because they will reflect the proportions that will be used to distribute the sale proceeds when the property is sold.

    How can you terminate this declaration of trust?

    You can terminate this agreement by giving four months written notice to each of the other owners.

    Further advice

    Ask a lawyer

    • If you are joint tenants (which means when you die, your co-owner(s) automatically inherit your property and you cannot leave it by your will). It is possible to sever the tenancy and then complete a declaration of trust. If you are doing this and your shares are not equal, you will need advice from a lawyer
    • For further advice, if you are buying a house unequally and you have children between you.

    If you would like to discuss the above further, please contact The Law Practice UK Ltd today.

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    Help to Buy ISA – Who qualifies and how do I apply?

    You need to be a first-time buyer and the property you are purchasing needs to cost less than the house price cap of £250,000 or less (or £450,000 or less in London).

    You can open an account with any bank, building society or credit union that offers a Help to Buy: ISA account.

    How long will Help to Buy: ISAs be available for?

    You’ll be able to open a Help to Buy: ISA until 30 November 2019. After that date, they won’t be available to new savers anymore – but if you opened your Help to Buy: ISA before then you can keep saving into your account until 30 November 2029 when accounts will close to additional contributions.

    You must claim your bonus by 1 December 2030.

    ISAs must be opened by individuals aged 16 years and over and cannot be opened on behalf of someone else. ISAs are only available to individuals. If you plan to buy a home with someone else who is also a first-time buyer, they can open and save money into their own account. If the property you wish to purchase is within the price caps you can separately claim the government bonuses due on your savings and put both bonuses towards the home you are buying.

    I have property in a trust, do I still qualify as a first-time buyer?

    If you have or had an ongoing beneficial interest in a residential property via a trust, (including a trust created by a will or divorce), then you are not a first-time buyer.

    However, you are still a first-time buyer if:
    (a) you are named as a beneficiary of residential property in the will of a person who is still living; or,
    (b) if the trust to which you are or were a beneficiary was only created for the purpose of selling the property and other assets following a death or divorce, and the title of the residential property was never transferred to your name or to a trust which you are an ongoing beneficiary; or
    (c) if you are only acting in a trustee role and will not be entitled as a beneficiary in the future, (and do not have any other interests in residential property).

    Is there a limit on how much I can save in a Help to Buy: ISA?

    Yes. The maximum amount you can save every month is £200. In the first month, you can save an additional £1,000.

    Do I have to save £200 every month?

    No. You don’t have to save money every month and the amount you save into the account every month is up to you – as long as you don’t go over £200. However, you can’t roll over your allowance.

    For example, if you don’t save any money during January and February, this doesn’t mean you’re allowed to save £600 during March.

    Can I withdraw money from my Help to Buy: ISA?

    Yes. You can withdraw money from your Help to Buy: ISA account at any time. But you can’t put all the money you’ve withdrawn straight back into the account – you’re still only able to save up to £200 in every month. For example, if you deposit £200 and then withdraw £50 in the same month, you will have to wait until the next calendar month to make another deposit.

    If you plan to withdraw all your money in your Help to Buy: ISA for your home purchase, you will need to let your ISA manager know. Your ISA manager will then close your account and provide you with a closing statement. Don’t just withdraw all of your money as you will not receive the closing statement and you won’t be able to claim your bonus.

    There are exceptions if you withdraw your money in order to purchase a home and the sale falls through.

    Does the Help to Buy: ISA bonus contribute towards the deposit I need to buy my first home?

    Yes. The government bonus contributes towards your overall deposit (sometimes referred to as the ‘mortgage deposit’) and therefore increases your savings for your first home. When calculating the size of your mortgage, banks, building societies and credit unions will seek evidence of the funds that you have available to put towards your first home. This will include the amount that has been saved into your Help to Buy: ISA account and banks, building societies or credit unions will factor in the amount of the government bonus into their calculation of how much you need to borrow.

    What is the difference between an exchange deposit and a mortgage deposit?

    A ‘mortgage deposit’ is the amount you are contributing towards your first home upfront. For instance, you may pay 5% of the value of the property upfront and borrow the remaining 95% from a bank or building society.

    An ‘exchange deposit’ is the money your conveyancer pays to the seller’s conveyancer at the point of exchanging signed copies of the contract.

    Can I use the money I have saved in my Help to Buy: ISA for the deposit at the exchange of contracts for my home purchase?

    Yes. If you plan to use the money you have in your Help to Buy: ISA to pay for the deposit at exchange of contacts you will need to let your ISA manager know. Your ISA manager will then close your account and provide you with a closing statement. You can then withdraw your savings from your account and use those savings towards the deposit at the exchange. It is important that you don’t just withdraw your savings without getting a closing statement. The government bonus will be paid out just prior to completion and contribute to the overall deposit.

    Will my interest on my savings count towards my government bonus?

    Yes. Your government bonus will be calculated based on the amount of money you have in your account when you close it. This includes both the money you have saved and any interest you have earned on that money. The maximum government bonus is £3,000.

    Will I get interest on my government bonus?

    No. Your government bonus won’t be paid into your account. Just prior to completing on your first home purchase, your solicitor or conveyancer will apply for your bonus. Once they receive the bonus, they will transfer it to the seller with the other money you are putting towards your new home.

    How do I apply for my bonus?

    When you find your home, your prospective mortgage lender will ask you to hire a solicitor or conveyancer. They will handle all of the legal aspects of buying your home and can advise you on whether the property you are buying is eligible for a government bonus. In order to claim a bonus your conveyancer will need a closing statement from your Help to Buy: ISA account. So when you need to withdraw all of your funds make sure you close your account and get a closing statement from your ISA manager. Don’t just withdraw all of your money as you will not receive the closing statement and you won’t be able to claim your bonus. If you lose your closing statement, your ISA provider will be able to give you a new one. You will need to take this closing statement to your solicitor or conveyancer so that they can apply for your bonus.

    Your conveyancer will apply for your government bonus on your behalf. The bonus will be sent to your conveyancer or solicitor to be included with the other funds which have been consolidated for the completion of the property transaction.

    If completion is imminent, there is an expedited bonus application process that your solicitor or conveyancer can follow that does not require a closing statement. You should speak to your solicitor or conveyancer to find out more.

    How do I apply for a Help to Buy: ISA government bonus if I am exchanging and completing on the same day?

    Your conveyancer will still use the standard bonus application process, but it will be important that you speak to your ISA manager and solicitor or conveyancer as early as possible to inform them that you wish to claim a government bonus.

    There is an expedited bonus application process that your solicitor or conveyancer can follow that does not require a closing statement and where an up-to-date Help to Buy: ISA account statement can be used instead.

    When is the Help to Buy: ISA government bonus paid?

    The government bonus is paid once it is certain the transaction will go ahead. This means that your solicitor or conveyancer will claim the bonus between exchange and completion. The government bonus contributes towards your completion funds (sometimes referred to as the ‘mortgage deposit’)

    If you are in the situation where you need the government bonus to make up the deposit on exchange of contracts then your solicitor or conveyancer will be able to advise you on your options. In this instance your solicitor or conveyancer should be able to agree a smaller deposit at exchange with the seller; with the promise of the government, bonus to follow as part of the overall deposit.

    What about if I want to buy a home before I’ve saved enough to claim the £3000 bonus?

    You need to save at least £1,600 to receive the minimum government bonus of £400. If you close your account without saving that amount you will not receive a bonus. If your Help to Buy: ISA has a balance of £1,600 or more, you can apply for your bonus at any time.

    What happens if my house purchase does not go ahead?

    If your property purchase doesn’t go through after you have closed your Help to Buy: ISA in anticipation of claiming a bonus, you can re-open your Help to Buy: ISA. To do this your solicitor or conveyancer will give you a document (called a purchase failure notification) confirming your property purchase did not complete. If you take this to your bank, building society or credit union, they will re-open your account for you. At this point, you will be able to deposit your money as a lump sum. So, if you closed your account with £12,000 in it, you will be able to re-deposit £12,000. If you decide not to re-open a Help to Buy: ISA, you can use your purchase failure notification to deposit your lump sum in a cash or stocks and shares ISA. This will not count towards your annual ISA subscription limit.

    If the government bonus has already been transferred, your solicitor or conveyancer will first need to return your bonus to the Help to Buy: ISA Scheme Administrator before you can receive a purchase failure notice.

     

    Call The Law Practice today for further advice on your first home purchase. Contact us today.

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