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Greene & Greene is a long established firm of solicitors based in Bury St Edmunds, Suffolk. Our lawyers advise individuals and businesses based all over the UK.

We regularly attract new clients who have been using firms in London, but now receive a more cost efficient and more personal service from us here in Bury St Edmunds.

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Entries in Property Disputes (18)

Wednesday
Mar012017

Free Residential Property Law Update

                  

Join our expert lawyers, Jonathan Mathers (Agriculture & Residential Property), Ansa Khan (Residential Property) and Natalie Stoter (Private Client & Taxation) on Thursday 16th March at Denny Bros Conference Suite, Bury St. Edmunds for this informative seminar updating you on the latest property law issues.

Areas to be covered include:

  • A review of the last 12 months;
  • Property Fraud;
  • Incoming energy efficiency rules;
  • Issues for buy-to-let investors;
  • Stamp duty exemptions & reliefs; and
  • Looking forward to 2017/18.

You will also have the opportunity to ask questions of the speakers on any property law issues that may be of specific interest to you.

Denny Bros Conference Suite, Kempson Way, Bury St. Edmunds, Suffolk, IP32 7AR

8.30am                Registration & Continental Breakfast

9.00am                Seminar followed by Q & A session

10.30am              Refreshments & Close

To book your free place(s) at the seminar please email joolswindermere@greene-greene.com.

Please contact us if you are unable to attend this seminar but would be interested in joining us on an alternative date or running an in-house property update for your leadership team.

For more information on the services offered by Greene & Greene Solicitors please visit www.greene-greene.com and follow on Twitter @GreeneGreeneLaw.

Monday
Jan162017

Top Tips on Separation

The breakdown of a relationship is never easy, especially from a legal point of view. If you are thinking about separating from your partner, our “top tips” can help make the process a little less stressful…

Sort out your finances

Money can cause all sorts of problems during a relationship, let alone after separation. Get your finances in order early on to avoid unnecessary angst.  

If you have joint bank accounts or credit cards consider whether these should be closed or cancelled. If you intend to keep using them you will need to agree how much money can be spent and who will be responsible for paying any debt. You should also consider restricting any overdraft facilities.

If you have a more complicated financial situation it may be sensible to seek advice from an accountant. They can provide advice on tax consequences following the transfer of property or company assets.

Consider the needs of the children

Arrangements for child care including when and where the children will spend time with each parent should be discussed and agreed particularly if you are about to separate..

You will need to consider how joint decisions about children will be made in the future. A parenting plan could be drawn up (see www.splittingup-putkidsfirst.org.uk).   This can be as detailed as required and can also include issues such as how and when the children would be introduced to any new partners. 

Ideally the amount and frequency of Child Support payments should be agreed as in default an application to the CMS for a Child Maintenance Service assessment may be necessary.  If there are no children or if Child Support payments are insufficient to cover one party’s financial needs then thought should be given to any additional support that may be needed by way of Interim Spousal Maintenance. 

Think about getting help

A lot of people are reluctant to consider getting help, but counselling can often be very helpful in coping with the stress of relationship breakdown.

If you think it could help to try and get the relationship back on track thought should be given seeing a marriage counsellor. If the relationship is at an end then a family therapist, family consultant or counsellor could help work through issues surrounding the separation and communication.

Work out sensible living arrangements

Will both parties still be living in the house together?  Sometimes this will be a necessity.  Consider any practical steps that can be taken to make this easier.  Alternatively, if one person intends to leave then who will that be and where will they go?  Importantly, consider how two households would be funded.

Update your Wills

Consider whether the terms of your will are still applicable post-separation. You may want to remove certain beneficiaries. You should also consider whether any death in service benefits under any pension provision need to be amended.

Seek legal advice early on

We deal with things like this every day and have considerable experience in these matters. We are committed to providing constructive dispute resolution options and sensible advice. Seeking legal advice early on can help avoid problems down the line.

If you require any advice about separation contact Melanie Pilmer (melaniepilmer@greene-greene.com, telephone 01284 717418) or another member of the Family Team at Greene & Greene for an initial discussion.   For more information on the services offered by Greene & Greene please visit www.greene-greene.com and follow Twitter @GreeneGreeneLaw.

Friday
Nov042016

Divorce and the Farming Family

 

 The damaging effects of divorce are often felt more acutely in cases involving farming families: especially so where the farm has been held within one family for generations.

Often farming businesses will involve Partnership or Corporate Structures, land may be co-owned with extended family, land ownership may be within or outside of business structures and various land or property assets may also be held in Trust.  These can all complicate matters.

Typical questions that arise are:

  • How can the assets be divided fairly where a farm has been passed dynastically to one spouse through the generations?
  • What weight will the court apply to the financial and non-financial contributions of the non-owning spouse?
  • Will the court force a sale or transfer of land and property?  

The court’s approach can be unlike other cases and present unique challenges.

The court is tasked with arriving at a fair outcome and must meet the parties’ (and any dependent children’s) reasonable needs. In doing so the court will consider whether the farming family intended that the farm should be passed down through the generations. The court will have to consider whether the farming family can and should retain the farm (in so as far as that is possible) even if that means an overall unequal division of assets. Numerous other factors including the standard of living enjoyed by the parties during the marriage can also be taken into account. 

Funding a settlement may require finance to be raised against the retained farm. Land may need to be sold in order to retain the majority of the farm to pass on to future generations.  Many farming businesses experience cash flow and liquidity issues which can make it difficult (or impossible) for income generated from the farm to satisfactorily meet the needs of two separate households following separation.  

The Family team at Greene & Greene has a wealth of experience and a proven track record of success in farming cases. The team is also able to call upon specialists in the Agricultural Property and Estate Planning teams to deliver creative and bespoke solutions.

Divorces involving family farms are often complex and it is important that if you find yourself in this position you seek the assistance of a lawyer experienced in this area. 

If you require any further advice regarding a divorce involving farm assets then please contact Stuart Hughes (stuarthughes@greene-greene.com or 01284-717493) or Melanie Pilmer (melaniepilmer@greene-greene.com or 01284-717418) who will be pleased to assist you.  For more information on Greene & Greene please visit www.greene-greene.com or follow @greenegreenelaw on Twitter.

 

(Editorial first published in East Anglian Daily Times Rural Review, September 2016)

 

Friday
Jan292016

Flooding: An Act of God?

The dreadful effects of flooding have been graphically illustrated once again by the events in Cumbria, Lancashire, Yorkshire and areas of Scotland over the course of the past few weeks. In legal terms flooding is often described as an act of God: in other words it is something for which no person can be held responsible. This is not always true for, on occasions, those affected by flooding can have a legal remedy.

If the way in which a landowner or occupier uses or manages his land generates flooding that would otherwise not have occurred or makes flooding worse, he may be liable for those consequences on a number of grounds, including negligence and nuisance.

We have successfully pursued flooding claims for a number of clients. Two examples include: -

  1. Recovering compensation for a client whose house was repeatedly flooded following a change of use of the adjoining farmland by its owners, which resulted in water run off whenever it rained heavily.
  2. Establishing liability against a landowner who mismanaged the repair and maintenance of, and the drainage associated with, a large pond on her land with the result that it overflowed during periods of heavy rain and flooded our client’s property. Our client’s compensation ran into hundreds of thousands of pounds.

If you have been affected by flooding or are worried about your responsibilities as a landowner or occupier please contact Michael Batty (michaelbatty@greene-greene.com / Telephone 01284 717414) or Andrea Nicholls (andreanicholls@greene-greene.com / Telephone 01284 717531) in our Dispute Resolution Team.  For more information please visit http://www.greene-greene.com/energy.html and follow @greenegreenelaw.

Monday
Jan112016

Farmers Weekly: What to do if escaped stock cause damage by Andrea Nicholls

(This article was first published in Farmers Weekly, 4 December 2015)

Question:               My stock have escaped and damaged my neighbour’s property what should I do and am I liable to pay for damage to their lawn for example?

Answer:                  Yes.  Your liability for damage caused to property by straying livestock (and the legal definition of livestock includes all the usual farm stock species) is a strict liability.  This means that there is no need for the person whose property has been damaged to prove that you were at fault in any way in allowing the animals to stray.

If your stock stray you are liable to pay both for the damage which they cause to property and any costs which the property owner incurs in controlling or looking after the animals. 

You are liable to pay for the damage caused to the lawn and any costs that the lawn owner incurs in looking after the animals. It is best to collect the animals as soon as possible and pay for the damage.

Question:               Who is liable to pay for damage caused to property?

Answer:                  The person in possession of the livestock is liable to pay for any damage to property caused by straying livestock. The person “in possession” includes both the owner of the livestock and the owner of the grazing land from which the stock escaped. Either person can be sued and any savvy property owner would probably sue both. If you are grazing someone else’s stock on your land, you must agree as part of the Grazing Licence how liability for damage for strays is going to be shared.

Click to read more ...

Thursday
Oct012015

New Rules for terminating Assured Shorthold Tenancies

Today (1st October 2015) a number of new rules come into force that govern how and when a Landlord may seek to end an Assured Shorthold Tenancy (AST,) by serving a notice on the Tenant under Section 21 of the Housing Act 1988.

The new rules apply to all “new” ASTs granted on or after 1st October 2015.  After 1st October 2018 the rules will apply to all AST’s.

The Landlord cannot now draft its own version of a Section 21 Notice.  There is now a specific form that must be used (Form 6A, an example of which is set out in the relevant regulations).

In a Section 21 Notice terminating a periodic AST (a rolling tenancy, e.g. one that renews itself from month to month) there is no longer a need for the Landlord to specify the last day of a period of the tenancy as the date on which the tenancy comes to an end.  The Landlord can choose any date it wishes, provided the minimum (usually 2 months’) notice is given.  The maximum notice that can be given is 6 months (in most cases - see below).

A Section 21 Notice is only valid for 6 months from the date it was given.  That is unless the AST is a contractual periodic tenancy, with a period of more than 2 months, in which case it is valid for 4 months’ from the date for ending the AST given in the Section 21 Notice.

A Section 21 Notice cannot be served within 4 months of the start of the AST (unless it the AST is a direct replacement for a previous AST, and the Tenant has been in occupation for more than 4 months).

Before a Landlord can serve a Section 21 Notice on the Tenant, the Landlord must:-

  1. Protect the Tenant’s deposit by registering it with an authorised Tenancy Deposit Scheme (TDS) provider, and send certain information (called the “prescribed information”) about the deposit and the TDS to the Tenant, within 30 days of receiving the deposit (this has been a requirement since 2007); and
  2. Provide the Tenant with copies of the following documents:
    1. An energy performance certificate for the premises,
    2. A gas safety certificate for the premises, and
    3. A copy of the Department for Communities and Local Government’s booklet entitled “How to Rent: the checklist for renting in England”.

The Landlord (or its agent) must ensure it retains proof that the above have been sent or provided to the Tenant at the start of the AST.  Best practice would be to retain copies which have been signed by the Tenant.

 The new rules also prevent so called “retaliatory evictions” by Landlords.  A Section 21 Notice is now invalid if:

  1. Before the Section 21 Notice is served the Tenant has made a written complaint to the Landlord regarding the condition of the premises or common parts; and
  2. The Landlord has not responded to the Tenant’s complaint, or its response is inadequate, or a Section 21 Notice was served following the complaint; and
  3. In addition the Tenant then complained to the Local Housing Authority about the same, or substantially the same, disrepair as the complaint to the Landlord; and
  4. The Local Housing Authority had then served a “relevant notice” on the Landlord in relation to the Tenant’s complaint.

If the Local Housing Authority serves a “relevant notice”, then the Landlord is also prevented from serving a Section 21 Notice on the Tenant for 6 months from the date that the “relevant notice” is served upon it.  A “relevant notice” is an improvement notice or notice requiring remedial action, sent to the Landlord under the Housing Act 2004.

Importantly, the “retaliatory eviction” restrictions do not apply if:

  1. The Tenant is in breach of its duty to use the premises in a tenant-like manner, or any express provision in the AST to the same effect;
  2. The premises are genuinely on the market for sale;
  3. The Landlord is a private registered provider of social housing; or
  4. Where a mortgagee requires vacant possession to exercise its power of sale under a charge that predates the AST.

It remains to be seen whether some Tenants will try to use these new provisions to delay being evicted from the premises, by making unsubstantiated and unjustified complaints about the premises or common parts.  The result may be that Landlords will serve a Section 21 Notice without giving any prior warning to the Tenant whatsoever. 

Assuming the Landlord has successfully managed to navigate all of the above, if the Tenant leaves of its own accord on or by the date given in the Section 21 Notice, the AST will come to an end on that date.  If Court proceedings are necessary, the AST will end when the Tenant has been evicted.  The Landlord must now reimburse the Tenant for any rent paid in advance that relates to any period falling after the end of the AST.

If you would like to discuss this further, please contact Sam Cook at Greene & Greene who specialises in tenancy disputes and all legal aspects of renting property.  Sam can be contacted at samcook@greene-greene.com or 01284 717434.  For more information about Greene & Greene please see www.greene-greene.com and follow @greenegreenelaw.