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Housing & Regeneration

A quarterly newsletter keeping the social housing sector informed of the latest legal news and developments.

Latest Issue

In our latest issue of Housing and Regeneration News Alistair Fletcher looks ahead with his predictions for what 2017 has to offer, whilst we also look back at the success of the recent North West Housing Conference plus other news which we hope you will find of interest.

Season's Greetings: The Housing and Regeneration team would like to take this opportunity to extend our thanks to all our clients and contacts who have worked with us over the last year. We hope that we have helped to guide you through the issues that matter to you and that you will allow us to help you realise your ambitions in 2017 and beyond.

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Top Tips: Heads of Terms

Wednesday 12th November 2014

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Housing & Regeneration News - November 2014

Heads of Terms are used to outline the main aspects of a proposed commercial transaction and detail points that are essential to the deal or particular to the property.

It follows that the more detailed the Heads of Terms, the more clarity on the transaction there is for both parties at the outset. Set out below are the basic terms included in standard Heads of Terms. Additional items can be added depending on the circumstances.


Company Number/Society Registration Number/HCA Registration Number should be provided here to ensure the correct entity is identified and correctly included in the documentation.

This is particularly important in relation to the security of tenure provisions contained in the Landlord & Tenant Act 1954. It is also crucial in investigation of Tenant covenant strength.


The extent of the property should be described and, if possible, identified by reference to a plan. Areas such as parking spaces, bin stores and access areas should be located on plans where possible.


The length of the lease and the date of commencement of the lease should be stated. If there will be a break clause, the broad terms should be set out including the break date(s) and any pre-conditions to exercise of the break clause.


Level of rent should be agreed, together with details of any rent free period and rent review. The position on VAT can also be clarified here.

Service Charge

If the property forms part of a building or is a unit on an estate, the Tenant will normally pay a service charge. Details should be set out here.


Details of which party insures, and on what basis, can be stated here. Level and method of payment of any insurance rent can also be stated here. Consideration as to insured risks should be given.


The permitted use and any potential for change of use can be stated here. There may be restrictions on hours and days of access. The existence of planning permission should be checked.


This section relates to any permitted dealings with the property. If a dealing is permitted in relation to part of the property only, the Heads of Terms should specify the particular part(s).


It is usual that responsibility for repairs will rest on the Tenant (either directly, or indirectly through a service charge). If the Tenant’s repairing obligations are to be evidenced by reference to a Schedule of Condition, this should be stated here.


The Landlord may want to restrict alterations at their property or at least ensure that any works are reinstated. The Tenant may wish to display signs at the property.  Such points should be added here.


Depending on, for example, the market or the bargaining power of the parties, one party may agree to pay the costs of the other party.


If known details of the solicitors acting should be provided, to ensure that contact can be made and the matter progressed as quickly as possible.

If you would like more information on the terminology used in commercial contracts or to discuss any contract issues you may have please contact:

Sarah Howe
Tel: 0151 600 3063
Email Sarah

Increases to Home Loss Payments

Wednesday 12th November 2014

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On 1 October 2014, the amount of home loss payments for tenants in England (not Wales) increased from £4,700 to £4,900. This figure was last increased in 2008.

The new amount applies to “displacements” on or after 1 October 2014.  A “displacement” occurs when a tenancy ends as a result of a tenant being required to move out permanently because their home is going to be redeveloped or demolished. It does not apply to voluntary or temporary moves or when repair work is being done.

The amount of home loss payments for owners (including leaseholders) remains 10% of market value but the minimum and maximum figures have increased to £4,900 and £49,000.

If you would like to discuss any home loss matters or for other social housing issues you may have please contact:

Ian Alderson
Tel: 0151 600 3317
Email Ian

Educational Expedition to Zambia with World Challenge

Wednesday 12th November 2014

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Housing & Regeneration News - November 2014

Earlier in the year we sponsored Charlie Cook, a young student from Liverpool, on his educational expedition to Zambia with World Challenge due to his specific interest in housing projects. In this article Charlie describes his experience.

Charlie’s Story

Thanks to help from Brabners I was recently able to travel to Zambia to help with building work in a school and hospital in the small village of Mpancha.

When we arrived the children had very few things to play on, so we helped by adding a small football pitch, renovating a few swing-sets and seesaws. One of my personal highlights of the trip was seeing the look on all the kids’ faces when they came out of lessons and saw the new football pitch, along with the footballs we had brought over with us. Their smiles and laughter were like nothing I’d ever seen for something that back home would be considered obligatory.

In the hospital, there was very little colour, so we painted the children's ward in a bright colour scheme, with patterns of trees and leaves covering most of the ward, as well as painting the benches outside.

The most challenging work we did was definitely building the wall outside the school, with our days split between moving stacks of bricks to where they needed laying, to then actually building the wall. As a thank you for building the wall, all of the children sang us songs, which was a fantastic moment for all involved; thankfully their singing was much better than our own!

Truly it was a once in a lifetime experience, and I’m incredibly proud that we were able to make a difference, small as it was, for a community in need.

If you have any scoial housing matters that you would like to discuss please contact Alistair Fletcher, Head of Housing and Regeneration team.

Employment Practices Bill 2014-2015 and the Potential Impact on Registered Providers

Thursday 11th September 2014

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Housing & Regeneration News - September 2014

The Employment Practices Bill 2014-15 had its first reading in the House of Lords on 10 June 2014 and a first draft has now been published.

The Bill provides that if an employer offers an employee residential accommodation as part of their employment package, it must also offer a financial payment as an alternative. The payment is to reflect the cost of bed and breakfast accommodation in the area where the employee works. However, this obligation will not apply if the accommodation is deemed to be a necessary requirement of the job.

This will have a potential impact on Registered Providers, who often offer residential accommodation to employees such as Wardens. If the Bill is passed in its current form, Registered Providers will need to consider whether the accommodation is necessary for the performance of the employee’s duties, and if so enter into a Service Occupancy Agreement. If not, they should be offered a financial alternative to residential accommodation.

We will be providing updates on the Bill as it passes through Parliament.

If you would like more information about the Employment Practices Bill 2014-15 and the potential impact on registered providers or any other employment law matter please contact:

Paul Ryman
Senior Associate, Employment & Pensions
Tel: 0151 600 3161
Email Paul

Co-operative and Community Benefit Societies Act 2014 ...Have you changed your letterhead?

Thursday 11th September 2014

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Housing and Regeneration News - September 2014

The Co-operative and Community Benefit Societies Act 2014 (“the Act”) received Royal Assent on 14 May 2014 and came into force on 1 August 2014.

The purpose of the Act is to consolidate certain enactments relating to co-operative societies, community benefit societies and other societies registered, or treated as registered, under the Industrial and Provident Societies Act 1965 with amendments giving effect to recommendations of the Law Commission and the Scottish Law Commission. The enactments consolidated include the Industrial and Provident Societies Act 1965, the Friendly and Industrial and Provident Societies Act 1968 and the Co-operative and Community Benefit Societies Act 2003.

Perhaps the most noticeable effect of Act on existing societies registered under the Industrial and Provident Societies Act 1965 (and earlier acts) is that it has replaced the “industrial and provident society” legal form with two new legal forms, namely:

  • The co-operative society; and
  •  The community benefit society

A society that was known as an “industrial and provident society” prior to 1 August will now be known in legal terms as a “registered society”. It is no longer possible to register an "industrial and provident society" and all registrations after 1 August 2014 must take the form of either a co-operative society or a community benefit society, satisfying the conditions attaching to each type of society.

This modernisation of terminology is not a particularly significant change given that societies already have to state whether they are a community benefit or co-operative on registration. Societies will continue to enjoy a separate legal personality with limited liability. However, there are some practical effects that existing societies should be aware of.

The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) suggests that there is no need to change the name of an existing society, even if the name includes "industrial and provident society". However, if an existing society has the words “co-operative society” included in its name, it must be a co-operative in accordance with the requirements of the Act. Similarly, if its name includes the term “community benefit society” it must exist to benefit the community.

From a practical perspective, the FCA suggests that an existing society’s letterhead and websites should now state that a society "is a registered society under the Co-operative and Community Benefit Societies Act 2014”. An existing society registered under previous legislation should not however refer to itself as a "community benefit society" or a "co-operative society" registered under the Co-operative and Community Benefit Societies Act 2014 as such registrations have only been permitted since 1 August.

As to the rules of an existing society, these do not need to be changed in order to take account of the changed legislation. However, the FCA suggests appropriate amendments (for example, updating of references to now former legislation) are made when they next make a rule change.

There are a couple of other changes which will largely apply to new societies and the FCA has been given increased investigatory powers.

The changes introduced will of course be relevant to the many registered providers that are established as industrial and provident societies. Such societies should amend their letterheads and websites and try to break any habit of referring to themselves as an IPS. They should also bear in mind that some minor modernisation should be made when they next amend their rules so as to reflect new terminology.

The FCA has published on its website guidance on the changes that have been made.

If you would like more information about the Co-Operative and Community Benefit Societies Act 2014 or for any questions you may have about the updated regime please contact:

Stephen Claus

Head of Charity & Social Enterprise
Tel: 0151 600 3314
Email Stephen

Will Land Registry Plans Help Property Buyers?

Thursday 11th September 2014

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Housing & Regeneration News - September 2014

Changes are afoot to ease the property buying process.

The Government has announced that legislation will be taken forward to enable the Land Registry to take over the local land charges register and be given wider powers. The proposals support wider government priorities to improve the ease of registering a property in the UK, digitise government services and make public data more easily accessible for the benefit of the wider economy.

At present, local land charges are maintained and delivered by each of the 348 local authorities. Fees vary between £3 and £96, with a turnaround time of between one and 42 days. More than one million local land charge searches are undertaken annually by conveyancers as part of residential and commercial property transactions and remortgages.

A pilot scheme will be developed with a number of local authorities and the private sector later this year with a view to the implementation of a phased migration of the service from April 2015.

The Land Registry will:

  •  Assume responsibility for maintaining a composite local land charges register
  • Be the sole provider of local land charges search results; and
  • Have wider powers to enable it to provide information and register services relating to land and other property, including providing consultancy and advisory services.

So, what does this mean for Registered Providers buying property?

The purpose of carrying out a local land charges search is to ensure that buyers are aware of any obligations or restrictions on their use of the property, because they will be bound by those obligations. Such matters will not necessarily be disclosed on the title, in replies to enquiries of the seller or by inspection of the property.   It is therefore important that this search is carried out on behalf of buyers and lessees.

Examples of local land charges include conservation areas, smoke control orders, enforcement notices, financial charges registered against the property and listing of buildings. The existence of a local land charge may be a material factor in a buyer's decision about whether or not to buy a particular property. For example, a buyer may decide that they do not want to purchase a building that is within a conservation area, or listed, because of the restrictions on their alteration or use of the property.

It is suggested that the changes should lead to an improved, standardised and digital service, resulting in a reduction in the time taken in the conveyancing process, better access to property information, greater consistency and reduced expense.

The overall intention is to make it easier to register a property in England and Wales.

The above measures are separate to the consultation on the possible privatisation/re-organisation of the Land Registry of England and Wales, which was the subject of an article in our June 2014 edition of Housing and Regeneration News. No decision has been made yet on this issue and the Government will publish its response to the public consultation shortly.

We will keep you posted on developments on both interesting topics.

If you would like more information about any of the issues raised in this article or for help with any other housing matter you may have please contact:

Sarah Howe
Solicitor, Housing & Regeneration
Tel: 0151 600 3063
Email Sarah

Relief from Sanctions: The New Test

Thursday 11th September 2014

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Housing & Regeneration News - September 2014

In Denton v TH Ltd and anotherDecadent Vapours Ltd v Bevan and others and Utilise TDS Ltd v Davies and another [2014] EWCA CA Civ 906, the Court of Appeal considered three appeals on relief from sanctions and issued new guidance in the form of a three stage test which now replaces the Mitchell guidelines.

The New Test

The new test is to be applied in all future applications for relief from sanctions under CPR 3.9 and requires the court to:

  1. Identify and assess the seriousness of the non-compliance, i.e. is the breach "serious or significant"?
  2. If the breach is “serious or significant”, why did the default occur?
  3. Consider all of the circumstances of the case in order to deal with the application "justly", including (but not limited to) (a) the need for litigation to be conducted efficiently and at proportionate cost, and (b) the need to enforce compliance with rules, directions and court orders.

Application in Practice

Stage one changes the focus on the nature of the breach from whether it was a trivial one (Mitchell) to now looking at whether it is a serious or significant breach.

Stage two is similar to Mitchell in considering whether there is a good reason for the default, so it may be that some of the earlier case law on this point is still relevant. However, other relief cases should now be considered with caution.

Stage three, i.e. confirmation that the court may now consider all the circumstances of the case (and not just the two factors set out in CPR 3.9), appears to introduce much more flexibility and discretion than previously under Mitchell.


This clarity, coupled with the Court’s clear warning against taking advantage of procedural errors and heavy costs penalties for unreasonable opposition to applications for relief, is a much more flexible and reasonable approach and should be welcomed.

At last, the harsh stain of Mitchell on civil procedure has been removed!

For the full judgment in this case please visit England and Wales Court of Appeal (Civil Division) Decisions.


Housing and Regeneration News - June 2014

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Housing and Regeneration News - April 2014

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Housing and Regeneration News - November 2013

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