EG 23-05-20

p.14 News - Supreme Court has ruled that ATMs at supermarket sites like Tescos do NOT pay business rates - which will trigger hundreds of millions of pounds of refunds. There are 34,000 appeals depending on this decision - business rates are an important issue for businesses that solicitors are completely unaware of

p.28 post covid predictions of a strong recovery in the London office market!


p.33 Very useful round up for landlords of BTLs on their obligations to carry out Right to Rent checks, following the CA decision recently that they are legal and not discriminatory. Also the CV Act effects on possession proceedings. New electricity checks come into force on 1 June 2020 requiring a qualified person to check the electrics before a new tenancy starts or by 1 April 2021 for any existing lettings. Minimum Energy Standards (MEES) kicked in on 1 April 2020 lettings of any substandard property are prohibited, but many register exemptions in practice. Tenancy deposits, gas safety and retaining obligations too.

p.37 A review of the latest govt proposals on fire safety reform following Grenfell. The new regime will cover all multi-occupied high rise resi buildings (HRRBs) of more than 6 storeys or 18m, whichever measurement is reached first. It will be extended in due course based on risk evidence (eg schools, hospitals and prisons). There new regulatory regime will cover all stages of building and will pose problems for landlords of HRRBs where there are different tenures and types of tenants, users, and visitors, contractors, etc. Signage on the backs of doors like with hotel rooms, escape plans etc may be needed. Tech from the nuclear sector is being trialled to tag critical components, etc, The cost is going to be high, and will this make rents and service charges unaffordable? Costs range between £28k and £90k per HRBB.

p.38. Grants and business rates - COVID. What happens next? Reviews how successful the scheme has been - only 62% has been claimed as of 2nd May, some local authorities haven’t been able to process them. Examines discrepancies in categories able to claim and catches - eg the cap of £700k meaning companies with more than 30 properties can’t claim - which is most of the high st! Worth a read.

p.40 Business loss, buildings insurance and Covid. Examines whether Business Interruption Insurance covers Covid as it won’t be listed as a risk but may covered by a reference to SARS coverage -  though insurers will say its different! Some policies cover loss caused by ‘ infectious or notifiable diseases’, which it surely is.  Policies may cover forced closures but sometimes only when it falls in the defined terms. Insurers are saying their policies don’t cover interruption as a result of govt measures in response to a pandemic. Some say the disease has to manifest itself on the premises or with a set distance of the premises. Rent suspension clauses may in some cases allow L to claim if there is an insured risk that ‘damages or destroys the premises’ or renders it inaccessible. CV won’t fall with in that - nor will it have ‘caused’ the lack of access. Such policies do not generally cover diseases. So its not likely to cover but should be checked in case and perhaps refunds of rent paid claimed if possible.  It is suspected that the insurance industry will refuse claims until there is govt or court guidance. The FCA  said on 1st May that they would be taking court action to resolve a number of key issue on these points.

p.42 Duval and what it means for leaseholders. The Supreme Court’s decision in - Duval v Randolph Crescent Ltd  [2020] UKSC 18 held basically that if a landlord has given the other leaseholders in a block the benefit of a mutual enforceability covenant, the landlord will put itself in breach of covenant if it gives a tenant permission to do something that would breach and absolute covenant. The effect of this will be far reaching. Such covenants are fairly standard, Things like prohibitions of wooden flooring, or requirements to have blinds may be sacrosanct despite changes in buildings generally since the date of the lease 

p.43 More analysis of the impact of Duval! Says pretty much the same as the last article!

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