Thursday, 29 July 2010

Best Trade Stand Award at Shows

Whilst at the Heckington Show over the weekend, Chattertons Solicitors was presented with a trophy for the "Best Trade Stand" at the show for 2010.

The firm was chosen for the award because of their friendly approach to people visiting their stand and for the interaction between members of staff and the children.

The trophy was presented to Linda Clark late on Saturday afternoon.

Linda says "I was so surprised when Jacki Wright, a member of the show committee, came over to tell me that we had been chosen for the award. There were over 250 trade stands at the show and for us to have been chosen was an honour.  Thank you to everyone from Chattertons' who helped at show over the 2 days”

Chattertons Solicitors will be at Revesby Show on Sunday 1 August, we will be pleased to welcome you onto our stand.

IMMIGRATION LIMIT FOR TIER 1 & TIER 2 OF THE POINTS BASED SYSTEM

IMMIGRATION LIMIT FOR TIER 1 (GENERAL) & TIER 2 (GENERAL) OF THE POINTS BASED SYSTEM

From April 2011 the Government will introduce an annual limit on Applications for Tier 1 (General) and Tier 2 (General) of the Points Based System.

An interim limit has been introduced from 19th July 2010 until the long term limit is introduced in April 2011.  The Home Office have shown an indication to scale back net migration from outside Europe back to the levels of the 1990’s. 

How the final limit will be delivered will be agreed following a 12 week Government consultation with businesses.  The Migration Advisory Committee has now launched a consultation and that consultation will be open for submissions until 7th September 2010. 

The guidance forms and application forms themselves for these applications have been updated and republished.  It is important that new applications are made on the relevant forms and that the accompanying guidance is read.

The interim measures include:

1. capping the number of Tier 1 migrants at current levels;

2. raising the number of points needed by non EU workers who come to do highly skilled jobs from 95 points to 100 points; and

3. limiting the number of Certificates of Sponsorship which licensed employers can issue to those who wish to come and fill skilled job vacancies.  This will reduce the number of people entering through Tier 2 by 1,300.

With regards to Tier 1 applications, applications will be dealt with on a first come, first served basis.

You may find it necessary therefore to review your Sponsor’s Licence and to review any possible new employees who may be subject to this Scheme and to review your future options.

All Sponsors affected by the introduction of the interim limit should receive a letter from the Home Office detailing what their allocation is and how this has been calculated.

Chattertons are here to help you through these difficult processes.  If you have any further questions or concerns, please do not hesitate to contact our Rebecca Birkett on 01205 310025 or by email at rebecca.birkett@chattertons.com.

Monday, 26 July 2010

Protection for Residential Tenants against Repossession

 Protection for residential tenants against repossession by landlord’s lender comes a step closer

Regulations have been made to give some protection to residential tenants whose tenancies did not bind their landlord's mortgage lender during repossession proceedings.

Section 2 of the Mortgage Repossessions (Protection of Tenants etc) Act 2010 (MRPTA 2010) provides that a possession order for a mortgaged property that consists of, or includes, a dwelling-house may only be executed:

§ If the mortgage lender gives notice at the mortgaged property of the mortgagee making an application to the court for a warrant for possession of the property.

§ After 14 days (beginning with the day on which the notice is given) has elapsed.

§ The notice must be in the form set out in the Schedule to the Regulations.

The Regulations will come into force on 1 October 2010.

FIRST TIME BUYERS

At Chattertons Solicitors we are aware that buying your first home is a very significant turning point in your life.

You will probably have dreamt of owning your own home for years, have possibly been scrimping and saving for years to raise the all important deposit and you have finally reached the point where you are ready to face the future and commit yourself.

Most of us who work at Chattertons have already taken that first step of moving into the housing market and remember taking that tentative first step on to the first rung of the property ladder. It is with this personal experience and our extensive legal expertise that we are here to guide you through the process.

We know that the challenges facing first time buyers today range from mortgage availability to being inundated with legal jargon and Estate Agent banter all set against a backdrop that feels at times as if things are spiralling out of your control.

This is where we come in. We are committed to all our clients but understand that our First Time Buyer clients need a huge amount of support as not only are you entering the housing market for the first time, this will probably also be the first time that you have had to make contact with a Solicitor, a Mortgage Adviser and a Surveyor.

We are able to provide you with a complete in house service as we provide the full range of conveyancing services and also have an independent mortgage adviser who can talk you through the mortgages that are on offer, arrange your buildings and contents insurance and your life insurance. Once you have completed your purchase we can refer you to our Private Client Department who will guide you through the next important stage which is to make a Will.

To ensure that our First Time Buyer clients receive the best possible service, each of our offices has a dedicated First Time Buyer Adviser who will liaise with you, the Estate Agent and your mortgage adviser from the beginning of the transaction to the day that you collect your keys. You will have a named adviser who will be available to you during working hours via email, phone or can see you in person at the office of your choice.

To find out more details of the service we can offer you please contact us at any of our offices and ask to speak to the First Time Buyer Adviser.

Wednesday, 7 July 2010

Housing Benefit Caps

The Emergency Budget

Many of our private clients are affected by the recent emergency budget. Apart from the increase from next year of VAT to 20% from 17.5%, major changes were announced in relation to housing benefit caps and limits and there were changes to child tax credits which are cut for those on more than £40,000 per annum. Many benefits including child benefit were frozen.

Katherine Bunting a partner in the firm says:

“If you own a second home you could be affected by the rise in the capital gains tax rate when you sell the house, where you sell it at a profit. From 1988 to 2008 the rate was the individual’s upper rate of tax where the gain would push them into that band – for many that meant CGT at 40%. It went down to 18% in 2008/09 and has now risen”.

For many years, the rate was 40% but it came down to only 18% in 2008/09. With effect from the budget day for higher rate tax payers, and those whose gains push them into that tax band, is now 28%. However, anyone selling shares in a business only pays 10% on the first £5m of their lifetime gains up from £2m.

The increases were not as bad as feared and those who were waiting to sell a property and were concerned about the increase may now choose to proceed with their property sales. It is important to be aware that the CGT rate is calculated by adding the gain made to the individual’s annual taxable income. So someone on £5k a year income making a £20,000 capital gain will simply pay the lower rate of tax on the gain. Someone on £20k a year who makes a £50k gain is going to pay CGT on some of that gain at 28%. Just because they are a lower rate tax payer does not mean the entirety of the gain is taxed at that level.

If you want any help or advice from us on selling your property or on the budget changes, please call Katherine on 01205 351114

Data Protection

 

Do you protect the personal data which your business holds properly? The Data Protection Act 1998 can be complicated. In June, the Information Commissioner’s Office has said it is very concerned about breaches of data protection rights by the NHS.

Peter Lawson a partner in Chattertons Solicitors said “Last month two NHS Foundation Trusts were the latest NHS bodies found to have breached the Data Protection Act 1998. Both NHS organisations’ chief executives have had to sign formal undertakings that they will comply with the law from now on. One quarter (250) of all data breaches reported to the ICO is from the NHS but many private businesses are also at fault.

We can advise you what procedures you need in place when handling employee HR records and customer details, what you have to do to engage in lawful email marketing and what privacy policies you need on your website and in your business. Most businesses need to register and pay an annual fee to the Information Commissioner’s office under the data protection laws and fines can be heavy after they were increased earlier this year.

For further help and advice please call Peter on 01205 310025.

Tuesday, 6 July 2010

Beneficial shares in a property

In Kernott v Jones [2010] EWCA Civ 578, the Court of Appeal applied the principles laid down by the House of Lords in Stack v Dowden and allowed an appeal from the High Court's decision.

In this case, an unmarried couple purchased a property as joint tenants. The relationship ended. The man moved out and purchased a house in his name, for which he was solely responsible. The woman remained in occupation of the property and was solely responsible for it. After 12 years' separation, the man severed the joint tenancy and claimed his share in the property.

The Court of Appeal held that there was no evidence to displace the presumption of equality of beneficial shares. It was not possible to infer a joint intention from the parties' conduct since their separation that their equal shares should be varied. It declared that the parties held the property as tenants in common in equal shares.

This decision provides further confirmation that the burden on the party seeking to rebut the presumption of joint beneficial interests is a heavy one. It also illustrates the importance for cohabitants of entering into an express agreement as to their beneficial shares in a property.

Furnished holiday letting tax regime will not be repealed

The existing, favourable, tax regime for furnished holiday lettings (FHL) will not now be repealed. Instead it will be reviewed and amended from the start of the 2011/12 tax year.

The intended repeal was announced in the March 2010 Budget but was omitted from the Finance Act 2010 following considerable lobbying by representatives from the tourism industry. They were concerned that the loss of the tax advantages would lead to a reduction in available holiday properties, with consequent loss of income and jobs.

The government will consult later this year over what changes should be made to the current FHL rules to ensure that:

· They are fiscally responsible.

· They meet EU requirements.

The likely changes will be to the eligibility thresholds and the circumstances in which relief for losses can be claimed.

Eligibility as FHL

Furnished holiday lettings must satisfy all of the following criteria to benefit from the existing tax regime:

· Be available for holiday letting to the public on a commercial basis for 140 days or more each year.

· Actually let for 70 days or more.

· Generally let for periods of 31 days or less (longer lettings will not count as holiday lets).

· Include sufficient furniture to enable normal occupation.

In 2009, the FHL regime was extended, in practice, to furnished holiday lettings in the European Economic Area .

Tax advantages of FHL

Where a property qualifies as an FHL, it will be treated (for some tax purposes) as a trade, rather than a property business. This offers the owner several tax advantages, for example:

· They may offset any losses against other income.

· Their FHL earnings count as relevant earnings for the purposes of relief on pension contributions.

· They may claim rollover relief or entrepreneurship relief on any capital gains made on disposal of the FHL.

· They may claim capital allowances on plant and machinery installed in the FHL property.

Capital gains tax New higher rate

A new higher CGT rate of 28% will be introduced with effect from 23 June 2010. For individuals, the rate will remain at 18% where total taxable gains and income are under the upper limit of the income tax basic rate band (£37,400 for 2010-11). The new 28% rate will apply to gains, or any parts of gains, above that limit. For trustees and personal representatives, the rate will be increased to 28% from 18%. There will be no change in the annual exempt amount, which will remain at £10,100 for 2010-11.

The new higher rate will particularly affect owners of second homes, holiday homes and buy-to-let landlords. As the increase will take immediate effect, any opportunity to sell such properties in advance, to avoid the higher rate, has already passed.

VAT Change of standard rate

Legislation will be introduced to increase the standard rate of VAT from 17.5% to 20%. The new rate will have effect for any supply made on or after 4 January 2011. Zero rated and exempt supplies are unaffected by the change.

Anti-forestalling legislation will be introduced to counter arrangements that purport to apply the 17.5% VAT rate to goods or services to be delivered or performed on or after 4 January 2011. In certain circumstances there will be a supplementary charge to VAT of 2.5% where 17.5% VAT has been declared.

Forestalling will occur when arrangements are put in place for a VAT invoice to be issued by a supplier, or payment to be received by a supplier, before 4 January 2011, where the supply is not due to be made until or after 4 January 2011.

The anti-forestalling legislation will apply in certain specified circumstances where the supplier and customer are connected parties. There will be similar measures to prevent the use of the grant of standard-rated rights or options as an avoidance mechanism.

The supplemental charge will not apply to prepaid or invoiced rentals of land, buildings or other assets if the period concerned is a year or less, and the prepayment, or the issuing, of an advance invoice is normal commercial practice.

First-time buyer "relief"

In the March 2010 Budget, the former Labour government announced the introduction of SDLT relief for first-time buyers of residential property where the consideration does not exceed £250,000.

In the June 2010 Budget, the new government said that it will review first-time buyer relief taking into account its impact on affordability and value for money.

The former Labour government stated that the relief would be available where the effective date falls on or after 25 March 2010 and before 25 March 2012. Where the relief is available, the nil rate threshold is effectively doubled.

The existing nil rate of SDLT on residential purchases not exceeding £125,000 continues to apply as before (which means that it is not limited to first-time buyers).

New SDLT rate

The June 2010 Budget has confirmed that a new SDLT rate of 5% for purchases of residential property where the consideration exceeds £1 million, will take effect on 6 April 2011.

The new rate was announced in the March 2010 Budget. The previous highest rate was 4% for purchases where the consideration exceeds £500,000. All other SDLT rates and thresholds remain unchanged.

Small Business Rate Relief

The government has confirmed that it will implement a temporary increase in the level of small business rate relief in England, as announced by the former Labour government in the March 2010 Budget. This increase will apply for one year from October 2010 and will give full relief for eligible businesses occupying premises with a rateable value of up to £6,000, and tapering relief for businesses occupying premises with a rateable value of up to £12,000.

Complying with break clauses in leases

Break notices are often the cause of litigation, particularly in the current economic climate where landlords are keen to retain tenants of good covenant strength.

A break clause can be included in a lease allowing either the landlord or the tenant to terminate the lease early. The right to break may arise on one or more specified dates or it may be exercisable at any time during the term on a rolling basis.

Any conditions attached to the right to break must be strictly performed. In particular, time will be of the essence in respect of any time limits in the break clause.

In order to comply with a break clause it is always necessary both to comply with the break clause and the prescribed mechanics of giving notice. This means that the entire lease must be read to ensure that the impact of different clauses on the method of serving the break notice must be considered.

Although there is no new law in the case of The Hotgroup Ltd v The Royal Bank of Scotland PLC [2010] EWHC 1241 (Ch), it is a succinct and sharp reminder to consider the lease and all of its clauses before issuing a break notice. Failure to do so can result in the notice being invalid and the tenant (or a landlord) missing its opportunity to break the lease.

In this case there was a requirement to serve notices not only on the landlord but also on a property management company. This was not done within the strict time limit of the break clause and the court held that therefore the break had not been validly activated and the tenant was tied in for the remainder of the term.

There is no new law in this case but it is a clear and salutary example of the dangers of reading a break clause in isolation from the rest of the lease. If in doubt, consult your solicitor before serving notice to activate a break clause, giving them plenty of time to deal with it before the deadline.

Monday, 5 July 2010

Chattertons Solicitors supports local hospice

Chattertons Solicitors’ Newark office was the venue for a ‘Ladies Indulgence Evening’ in aid of Beaumond House Community Hospice on Friday evening. Local craft stalls sold everything from shoes, handbags and jewellery to chocolate, cakes and glassware. There were 3 separate ‘treatment’ rooms offering hair makeovers, massages, facials, manicures and Reiki. The event was a success raising £300 for the hospice.

Friday, 2 July 2010

Skittles evening raises money for charity

 

The Rotary Club of Newark held its first annual skittles evening with a fish & chip supper on Thursday at Chattertons Solicitors in Newark.   Sixteen teams entered into the competition and the club raised over £290 by selling tickets and having a raffle.  

The skittles were played in the garage at the office, whilst the fish and chip supper was served at tables outside.  A prize was given to the winning team “The Coddington Chiefs”.