Blog Archives

Keeping track of positive covenants

Positive covenants can present problems for buyers and developers for a variety of reasons. In essence, as promises to perform particular duties, these covenants can typically be provided in the course of transactions such as sales. They tend to involve …

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What are the tax implications of being the Bank of Mum and Dad?

My husband has recently retired and we are ready to plan the next stage of our lives. Our first decision is to sell our historic but rambling country home and downsize to something more manageable. Once we have bought a …

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Residential Property Development and Construction – Legal update

Alex O’Connor, Partner and Head of Collyer Bristow’s House Building & Development group, discusses some methods for making overage agreements stick. Jonathan Pawlowski, Partner and Head of Construction discusses issues arising from delays and disruption to the construction programme. Aimee …

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Code of Practice for commercial property relationships following covid-19

In response to the covid-19 pandemic, the Government introduced a number of measures to protect commercial tenants. The measures include a moratorium preventing commercial landlords from (i) forfeiting leases for non-payment of rent; (ii) utilising Commercial Rent Arrears Recovery (being …

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Update on changes to Covid-19 temporary insolvency law measures

The temporary insolvency restrictions protections introduced in 2020 after the start of the Covid-19 pandemic are being significantly eased and replaced by new targeted measures to support, in particular, small businesses and commercial tenants. The UK Government have introduced changes …

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Supply Pain: Who is responsible for delays on luxury resi projects?

In high-value luxury developments and refurbishments where materials are often sourced internationally from exotic suppliers, there is often little flexibility available to contractors who are required to procure those materials under the terms of their building contract. Any hold up …

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Purchasers and renters in England can move home if they want to – as long as they follow the new guidance

Last night the Housing Minister, Robert Jenrick, announced that “anyone in England can move home if they follow new guidance”.The latest updates to the Covid Regulations are a welcome relief to the housing market and will allow people to visit estate agents, lettings agents, developer’s sales offices and show homes. It is also now a ‘reasonable excuse’ to leave your home to “undertake any of the following activities in connection with the purchase, sale, letting or rental of a residential property:visiting estate or letting agents, developer sales offices or show homes;viewing residential properties to look for a property to buy or rent;preparing a residential property to move in;moving home;visiting a residential property to undertake any activities required for the rental or sale of that property”.The Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government have also set out proposals to:allow builders to agree more flexible construction site working hours with their local council, such as staggering builders’ arrival times, easing pressure on public transport;enable local councils and developers to publicise planning applications through social media instead of having to rely on posters and leaflets; andsupport smaller developers by allowing them to defer payments to local councils, helping those struggling with their cash flow while ensuring communities.These updates and proposals are a great relief to the housing market and should begin to unlock the market again. However, I would caution that it is unlikely to be completely smooth sailing for some time yet. Transactions will need to be tailored to each set of circumstances and will need to allow continued flexibility to purchasers and their changing circumstances. I also suspect there will continue to be some element of Buyer reluctance so soon after the announcement.But it is definitely a step in the right direction.

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Is it time to go back to work on construction sites?

The good news for this Friday morning is that developers such as Persimmon, Taylor Wimpey and Vistry are all looking to reopen their sites, with the encouragement of housing ministers and that those sites may reopen from as early as Monday.A word of warning however. Despite these contractors going back to work, there are likely to be difficulties. These will lie not only with the need for strict health and safety protocols and continued social distancing but there may also be difficulties with the supply of materials, transporting of workers and delays caused by existing social distancing requirements; build programmes will already have been delayed by at least 3-4 weeks by the cessation of work and are likely to be delayed further in light of these issues. It is therefore time to revisit your contractual obligations relating to your programme of works. If there are long-stop dates or damages payable if target dates are not met, then now is a good time to seek to vary your contractual commitments to give yourself more flexibility on the programming. If you need help or strategic advice on amendments to the build programme or force majeure provisions under development agreements, building contracts or subcontracts, or in the case of funding arrangements with your bank deferring maturity dates under the loan agreements, then please do contact us and we would be delighted to help.

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Ministry of Justice’s latest set of quarterly statistics on the work of the Family Court, for October to December 2019

The Ministry of Justice has published its latest set of quarterly statistics on the work of the Family Court, for October to December 2019. Overall, it shows that the family court system is still crying out for reform. Amongst the headlines are that divorce proceedings are taking longer which is symptomatic of the challenges family law faces at the moment. Interestingly, there is a decrease in the number of cases starting in the family courts generally. That may well be as a result of couples using alternative methods to resolve their issues such as mediation or arbitration. We note that the number of divorce petitions have decreased. This may be due to the fact that people divorcing are waiting for the no fault divorce to become law.One remains hopeful that the current situation forces the courts to address some of these issues in the near future; we have already seen a positive development in the courts in their reaction to the pandemic with their rapid implementation of electronic bundles and remote hearings so that urgent work can continue. It will be very interesting to see if the current situation leads to expediated reform in other areas, which also require improvement.

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Can construction continue on development sites following Boris Johnson’s announcement last night?

Last night, the Prime Minister addressed the nation and imposed restrictions on the nation with people only being allowed to leave their home for specific, limited purposes. He specifically referred to a number of business and retail sectors which must close. However, this has left quite a lot of uncertainty. Are your workers key workers? Are non-key workers able to work if they cannot do so from home? This is obviously of concern for housebuilders and their contractors. Work on-site clearly cannot be done from home but is it specifically restricted under this latest announcement?The Secretary of State for Housing, Robert Jenrick, has this morning tweeted to say that those in construction, building and maintenance industries should:Work from home if they are able to do so;Continue working on site if they are already doing so but make sure that Public Health England guidance on social distancing is followed; andStay home outside of work.Work can therefore continue on sites for now – but bear in mind that any ongoing work is likely to be subject to delays as suppliers, individual contractors, local authorities and utilities are changing their current service arrangements to reflect the latest guidance for their industry. If you do decide to keep your sites open, be aware that the situation is rapidly changing and you will need to keep your decision to continue under constant review. Consideration as to what you would require for a shutdown and how quickly you can put that into place should also be focused on at this time.

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