05/02/2013

Commercial Property e-Brief – What changes to property law lie ahead in 2013?

THE GREEN DEAL

2013 will see the first real stages of the Green Deal coming into force. The Green Deal is a Government initiative introduced in a pioneering move to try and help both businesses and householders improve their energy efficiency.

Whilst the impacts of the initiative are to span out across the decade, 28 January 2013 marks the introduction of the Green Deal’s ‘finance plan’. From this date, householders will be able to sign up for the installation of energy efficient improvements to their property, the cost of which will be recovered from their energy provider through the householder’s energy bills. The plan is subject to ‘the golden rule’ meaning that the cost of the works are not to exceed energy savings which should allow for householders to save money as well as help in the push towards making property more environmentally friendly.

Those involved in commercial property will also need to be aware of the greater-spanning effects of the Green Deal on property over the next few years. Landlords (and Tenant’s wishing to sub-let) will need to start thinking about ensuring their properties are energy efficient as after 1 April 2018 a certain level of energy compliance will have to be achieved before properties can be let.

CHANCEL REPAIR

12 October 2013 marks the abolition of chancel repair as an overriding interest. What does this mean? It means any new purchaser of land after this date will only be bound by chancel liability if it is registered on the Title at Land Registry.

Historically chancel repair liability has proved an unwelcome burden on new purchasers, resulting in many having to take out indemnity policies to ensure they are not under a costly obligation to pay for the repair of the chancel of the parish church. In order for this historic liability to bind a purchaser after this new date the Parochial Church Council will now need to register repair liability against the land.

Whilst this change in the law is likely to significantly reduce the need for insurance cover, it remains to be seen to what extent the Parochial Church Council will decide to register these interests.

Purchasers are advised to ensure chancel repair liability insurance is still taken out up to this date.

VILLAGE GREENS

Developers can hope for positive changes in 2013 with the expected coming into force of the Growth and Infrastructure Bill. As well as streamlining the planning system it also introduces changes to the law affecting village greens. Clause 13 of the Bill, anticipated to take effect this Summer, will prevent local residents from registering land as a village green if a developer has already applied for or has been granted planning permission or where land has been allocated for development.

Many developers will hail this as a positive end to the ‘abuse’ of the Town and Village Green legislation, as the law currently stands local residents can prevent development of land by registering as a town or village green as long as it has been used for lawful sports and pastimes as of right for at least 20 years.

What remains to be seen is whether there will be a rush to take advantage of the law as it stands by way of a flurry of registration attempts before the legislation comes into force.