“Neighbours…everybody needs good neighbours…..”

That’s true, not just in an Australian soap opera, but all over the world, so the worst thing we can do is fall out with our neighbours because, as we all know “good neighbours become good friends“… or at least they don’t start a war which ends up in Court as happened in this case – “BOUNDARIES, BORDERS AND COSTS” reported in Civil Litigation Brief  by Gordon Exall

Solicitors are often contacted by one aggrieved party who feels that they’ve been slighted because their neighbour’s tree overhangs their garden or they think a new fence has been put in 3 centimetres too far over. Those are common gripes but on the other hand, it can often be that they may really have their property rights at stake, for example, where an extension is being built up against a party wall without following the procedure laid down in the Party Wall Act 1996 which provides a framework for preventing and resolving disputes in relation to party walls, boundary walls and excavations near neighbouring buildings.

Other common problems can be boundary disputes, the blocking of shared drives and the fallout from buying a house where the sellers have failed to disclose material issues about their neighbours, such as complaints they’ve made for years about rave parties.  If these are not disclosed during the sales process, it is possible for the new owner to bring a claim against the seller for that non-disclosure and the amount to which the problems have diminished the value of the property. Many household insurance policies contain Legal Expense Insurance which usually covers advice on neighbour/boundary disputes, so it’s always worth checking your policy documents. These are complex matters of law which need the advice of an experienced lawyer who specialises in property dispute resolution.

If you need any further help with this topic, call Adrian Boulter on 0208 363 4444

adrian.boulter@curwens.co.uk

www.curwens.co.uk

 

 

 

 

 

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PRE-NUP – WHAT’S THAT ? DO I NEED ONE ?

With the romance of Valentine’s Day now behind us, let’s talk again about the practical aspects of our relationships.

With the unavoidable increase in divorce and separation rates, it means that more of us who are getting married or moving in together are not “first timers“. Not only that, either one or both parties may have children from a previous marriage. This can mean ongoing financial ties to an ex-partner and possibly having a home or assets to bring into the new relationship.

So it’s  more important than ever for couples to take a small step back from the romance of their new relationship or wedding plans and think about the practicalities. If they are about to start living together, or planning to tie the knot, they should take legal advice on having a Cohabitation Agreement or Pre-Nuptial Agreement.

These don’t have to be long or complicated documents. The aim is to record what can be agreed amicably straight away, to cover what would happen if you ever did split up:-

  • Do you get to keep the property you brought into the relationship ?
  • Do you have to financially support one another after separation ?
  • How do you split anything held in joint names ?
  • Do you have to share any debts ?

The idea of considering a pre-nup early on is to avoid the time, anxiety and cost of a complex legal battle further down the line. Of course no-one has a crystal ball and your thoughts on how assets should be divided between you may change if you are married for many years, or if you have children together but in that case, no problem – you simply agree to review the terms of the Agreement on certain “trigger” events.

If you would like more information on having a Cohabitation or Pre-Nuptial Agreement drawn up please contact

Enfield:  

Vijaya Sumputh

0208 363 4444      vijaya.sumputh@curwens.co.uk

Hoddesdon/Royston:

Amanda Thurston 

01992 463727       amanda.thurston@curwens.co.uk

Curwens LLP is your local firm of solicitors offering you expert legal advice when you need it most.

Offices in Royston, Hoddesdon and Enfield.

www.curwens.co.uk

 

 

“Love Thy Neighbour ?”

Really ? How well do you get on with your neighbours ? Our Dispute Resolution team gets involved in so many property disputes between sellers/buyers and also neighbours over a whole range of problems.

When we buy a property, we rely on the Sellers’ Property Information form to tell us whether there have ever been any neighbour or boundary disputes – the answer is usually “No” – because you do know that “Yes” would be the kiss of death to the sale!  The boundaries are also identified – left or right of the property.

One good tip when buying a house is to go back at various times and check out the surrounding area – including the evenings, after dark on a Friday or Saturday night, just to see what the noise level is like, particularly from the house next door.

So far, so good.

The problem arises, though, when you move in or you yourself get new neighbours and they start with the all-night parties – (housewarming – ok – you let that one go – but then the loud music carries on each week!) – or they decide to build a large extension (sometimes on the party wall) and have to move the boundary fence for that and replace the old fence……but a couple of feet over – or they let the leylandii shoot up like triffids – any of this starting to sound familiar ?

Clearly these examples (not exhaustive) sound extreme but they can cause no end of stress and at the worst, can ruin lives – because, when it’s your home, there is no escape.

If you do have neighbour issues, firstly, check your household insurance policies for the words “Legal Expense Insurance” (e.g. via ARAG).  These policies often cover neighbour/ boundary disputes, so that would be your first port of call, to their helpline.  If they think you need legal advice from a specialist firm of solicitors, they may refer it to someone like Curwens solicitors, the cost of which is covered by your policy as long as it’s a viable claim (and you follow our advice!).

For further advice, call 0208 363 444 and ask for Adrian Boulter, property dispute expert.

www.curwens.co.uk

 

D-I-V-O-R-C-E – who gets what?

This month, I’m grateful to my colleague, Vijaya Sumputh, a specialist Family Law Solicitor at Curwens for her timely advice on the way some family assets are dealt with in divorce :

“According to a recent article in the Guardian, divorce enquiries are expected to rise more than 300% at the beginning of the year.  As Family Law solicitors, in this situation, we’re often asked the big question :  Who gets what?

The process of dividing the marital assets on divorce or family breakdown can be  emotional and complicated. What our clients want is a clear idea of what they may end up with at the end of this process, for example:

  • Who gets the matrimonial home?
  • Who gets the engagement ring?
  • Who gets the family pet?

Sadly, it’s not always possible to give a definitive answer to these questions, particularly in the early stages.

The Courts approach each case on its own individual set of facts – what might be right for one family, may not necessarily be right in all cases. The law in England and Wales is based on a discretionary regime which means there is a vast range of settlement options available in different circumstances.

There is no hard-and-fast rule, which is why it is important to take legal advice so that you have a better idea of the range of likely outcomes in your case.

Who gets the family home?

Often the family home is the biggest matrimonial asset and potentially the most emotionally significant one. Whether the house will end up being sold (and the net proceeds of sale divided) or transferred to one of the spouses, very much depends on the family’s needs.

In some cases, the family home may be kept by one spouse if that spouse is the primary carer for the children. Unless there is sufficient net equity in the property to re-house both spouses in a mortgage-free property, priority will usually be given to the spouse who needs to have the children living with him or her.

In some cases, the family home is kept by one party until a defined point in the future (such as when the children are all over 18) when the former family home can be placed on the market for sale at a price to be agreed by the parties (or if they can’t agree, as determined by a Court).

If, however, there are other assets that a Court can take into account, then one spouse may be able to retain the house permanently and pay other funds to the other person to “buy out” their interest.

When making any financial order, the court will look at a number of factors such as the length of the marriage, the age of the parties, whether they are working and what their earning capacity is, whether there are children, what each party’s needs are and what assets are available to meet those needs. It’s complicated, so do take legal advice.

Who gets the engagement ring?

The answer to this question can vary depending on whether the engagement ring was a family heirloom or perhaps inherited by one party. More often than not, engagement rings are retained by the wife to be passed down to one of the children.

As a general rule, the courts prefer chattels to be divided by agreement but if no agreement can be reached, the court can simply order all chattels to be sold and the proceeds divided.

Who gets the pet?

The family pet is mostly regarded as a member of the family but as the Courts will usually treat family pets much in the same way as any other chattel, we strongly encourage the parties to agree who will have responsibility for continuing to care for (and pay for) their family pet! ”

Vijaya Sumputh  –  0208 363 4444  –  Vijaya.sumputh@curwens.co.uk

www.curwens.co.uk

Landlord and Tenant Headaches

This month, I’m grateful to my colleague, Amanda Thurston, who wrote an article recently on this difficult topic.

 

“Landlord and Tenant law is a notoriously tricky area. It’s all too easy to get into difficulty. Whether you’re a Landlord dealing with a commercial lease or residential tenancies, the chances are that before too long you will come up against a “difficult” tenant.

Of course, if you are the tenant trying to negotiate fair terms for a new tenancy or lease you may well argue you are having to deal with a “difficult” landlord !

In our commercially minded world, Landlords and Tenants have to negotiate hard on many issues within a Tenancy or Lease including :-

  • break clauses,
  • service charges,
  • late payment of rent,
  • obligations for repairs

It’s very important for anyone in this position to get the right kind of legal and commercial advice – particularly in respect of dilapidations (in commercial premises), where an experienced surveyor can even be instructed to carry out a valuation to help negotiate a fair settlement.

Arguably, there is extra pressure on residential Landlords as, whether you have just one buy-to-let property or a large portfolio, you need to ensure you have completely up to date advice on all matters regarding how to enforce your Tenancy Agreement. The process of evicting a non-paying tenant is even more of a minefield. It’s so easy to make a simple mistake when dealing with a residential tenant and if your Court application fails, it can leave you out of pocket for outstanding rent and the Court costs.  Even worse, you could still be stuck with the non-paying tenant and have to start the eviction process all over again.

For the unwary, there are far too many traps to fall into. Our advice is – take good legal advice!  At Curwens’ Hoddesdon office, we have a new commercial property solicitor who has recently joined us – Jolyon Bland – he can be contacted at Jolyon.Bland@curwens.co.uk”

http://www.curwens.co.uk

 

 

COMMERCIAL LANDLORDS AND TENANTS

Landlord and Tenant law is a notoriously tricky area. It’s all too easy to get into difficulty. Whether you’re a Landlord dealing with a commercial lease or residential tenancies, chances are that, before too long, you will come up against a difficult tenants.

In the commercial world, Landlords will be faced with arguments about issues with the Lease – break clauses, service charges, late payment of rent, obligations for repairs and dilapidations. If you are the commercial tenant, you will be on the other side of this, looking to minimise your obligations under the Lease. It’s very important for anyone in this position to get the right kind of legal and commercial advice, particularly with regard to dilapidations where an experienced surveyor can carry out a valuation to help negotiate a settlement.

For residential landlords, whether you have just one property or a large portfolio, make sure that you take up to date advice on matters such as like enforcing Tenancy Agreements or evicting a non-paying tenant at the end of the tenancy. It’s so easy to make a simple mistake when dealing with a residential tenant because if your application fails, it can leave you out of pocket for the outstanding rent and the Court costs.  Even worse,  you could still be stuck with that tenant and have to start again.

For the unwary, this is a very easy trap to fall into.

Our advice is – take good legal advice!

https://www.curwens.co.uk/business-services/property/landlord-tenant/