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Japanese knotweed – ‘new build’ risk

There has been much publicity about Japanese knotweed this year, largely as a result of an important county court decision which held Network Rail liable after Japanese knotweed grew close to neighbouring terraced houses. The owners of those properties had been ‘trapped’ by knowledge of knotweed, and could not sell because banks and mortgagees would not grant mortgages on the affected properties. It was held that Network Rail was liable in private nuisance and had to pay damages (including diminution in value of the homes). See our April 2017 issue, p19.

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Grenfell Tower – CPSEs

Do the Commercial Property Standard Enquiries need to be amended, or added to, as a result of the Grenfell Tower fire?

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Electronic search fees – VAT!

In an important decision, the FTT has held that the cost of electronic searches on conveyancing transactions is not a disbursement for VAT purposes. Instead, the cost is part of the overall provision of legal services to the client and is thus subject to VAT (on the same basis as any other payment for legal services).

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Notices – death

What happens if a notice is served on someone who is dead? The answer depends on whether or not the person serving the notice knows that the intended recipient has died.  

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Fraud – mandatory guide!

The Law Society and LR have issued a joint note on property and title fraud.  

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First registration – rejection

The LR is tightening its criteria for rejecting applications for first registration (whether freehold or leasehold).

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Pre-emption – protection

If a right of pre-emption (ie a right to buy) does not specifically say that it can be protected at the LR by registration of a restriction, then it is still possible to enter a notice at the LR. However, the UT has now held that it is also possible to enter a restriction (in addition to the notice), even if the agreement does not expressly provide for that, or expressly limited the owner’s powers to make a disposition.

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Replies to enquiries – the basics

A reminder of the basics when replying to standard enquiries:

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Misrepresentation – advice to buyer?

We all know that a buyer who makes misrepresentations in replies to Standard Enquiries can be liable. But, what advice should you give to a buyer who discovers that something is wrong just before the contractual completion date? For instance, suppose the seller of a commercial property has wrongly said that there were no service charge disputes, and the buyer discovers – before completion – that there have indeed been disputes. What should the buyer do?

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SDLT – shared ownership

Anyone involved in a shared ownership purchase should understand that the SDLT calculations can be a nightmare. Different considerations arise depending on whether it is (i) the grant of a new lease, or (ii) the assignment of an existing lease, and/or (iii) the purchase of additional shares by staircasing. 

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