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Property Law Journal: April 2017
Dentons

Bryan Johnston discusses the impact of the controversial business rates revaluation

On 1 April 2017, the controversial business rates revaluation takes effect. Normally, revaluation does not generate front-page headlines, even in the property press. However, the 2017 revaluation is different. The path to revaluation has been anything but smooth. Even without revaluation, the rating industry has been up in arms about key judicial determinations and legislative proposals. This year, revaluation is the rating equivalent of throwing a stone at an angry wasps’ nest. This article explores these issues in greater detail.

Jonathan Karas QC finds Assets of Community Value: Law and Practice a useful tool in interpreting the legislation

In the past property rights have been regarded as important. When Parliament reformed them it was believed that it did so with precision and care. These days, things are different. Legislation is now sometimes loosely drafted. The promoters of legislation know this and intend (or hope) that regulators and courts will work things out in practice.

Farrer & Co

Knowledge of environmental, social and governance (ESG) is in increasing demand from clients. Barbara Webb gives the lowdown

In a world of acronyms, measuring the sustainability and ethical impact of an investment is no different and ‘environmental, social and governance’ (ESG) has become the ‘go-to’ phrase in the context of property investments. This is not a new concept, with property investors having reported on such matters for some years now.

Suzanne Benson and Tom Barton assess the impact of the long-awaited housing white paper

The housing white paper issued on 7 February 2017 led with the challenging title of Fixing our broken housing market. The supporting paper identifies a broad range of challenges and objectives to drive forward additional development, attract more institutional investment into the market and assist individuals with accessing both owner-occupier and rented housing. Many parts of the white paper are designed to start the process of further discussion, and a series of questions and further consultation papers are to follow. Below we have focused on two specific policy areas the white paper seeks to address: the wide-ranging subject of reform of the planning system and the often controversial policy of promoting starter homes.

Nabarro LLP

Anna Ralston takes a closer look at termination traps in rent concession letters

Finding a concession letter nestled in the deeds packet is very common. Commercial landlords and tenants often document the ‘main deal’ in the lease and then agree a ‘different deal’ in a side letter. Those side letters can either be entered into at the same time as the lease is granted or subsequently. They can cover a huge range of different subject matters such as an agreement that rents are payable on a monthly rather than quarterly basis; a concession that the tenant does not have to comply with a ‘keep open’ covenant or obligation to insure the plate-glass so long as it is the tenant; or an agreement that a tenant can share occupation. Indeed, there is no specific limit on what the parties can or cannot agree in the ‘side deal’.

In a question of construction the court will give precedence to the strict meaning of the contract. Ed Socha and Sarah Mitchell explain

The recent case of Dooba Developments Ltd v McLagan Investments Ltd [2016] has highlighted that, provided the meaning of words in a contract are clear and unambiguous, common sense and the intention of the parties are essentially irrelevant. The use of inconsistent terms and the incorrect use of words may result in the court interpreting a contract differently to how the parties intended.

Dentons

Michele Vas explores current approaches to assessing compensation in the context of CPOs

The promotion of nationally significant infrastructure projects such as HS2, Crossrail and garden cities, together with the recent (and continued) support in the housing white paper for the use of compulsory purchase to assist in delivering housing, confirms that the use of compulsory purchase orders (CPOs) will play an increasingly prominent role in the delivery of development. The inevitable requirement of exercising CPO powers is that those dispossessed of their land are entitled to appropriate and fair compensation.

John Starr

John Starr considers the amount of detail required in an interim payment application

There has been a considerable amount of case law recently concerning the degree of openness and transparency required in a payment application or default interim payment notice under the payment regime in the Housing Grants, Construction and Regeneration Act 1996 (as amended) (the Act). Only last month, I wrote about the case of Surrey and Sussex Healthcare NHS Trust v Logan Construction (South East) Ltd [2017], where a distinction was drawn between the amount of transparency required in an interim payment notice (which must be unambiguous) and that required in a pay less notice (where some degree of ambiguity appears to be permitted).