Changes affecting the property industry in 2012

January 31, 2012

2012 promises to bring a number of significant changes to the property industry.  Below is a summary of some of the main developments to look out for:

Asbestos

Following the Health and Safety Executive’s consultation in 2011 on the proposed introduction of revised control of asbestos regulations, the new regulations are expect to come into force by April 2012.  Having received the EC’s reasoned opinion that the relevant European Directive had not been fully implemented by the UK, the government has chosen to revoke the current Control of Asbestos Regulations 2006 entirely, issuing a single set of revised regulations in its place in order to attain full compliance.  The new regulations will mean that fewer types of lower risk work with asbestos will be exempt from the requirements; to notify work, to carry out medical examinations and to keep records.

Carbon Reduction Commitment Energy Efficiency Scheme

The Carbon Reduction Commitment Energy Efficiency Scheme (CRC), the UK’s mandatory carbon emissions scheme which requires qualifying organisations to purchase allowances to cover the equivalent amount of carbon produced them annually, and which came into force in 2010, was subject to various government consultation in 2011 in an effort to simplify and reduce the administrative burden of the scheme.  The CRC is due to be considered in further between February and April 2012 with the government’s response expected in September 2012 followed by amended legislation due to come into force in April 2013.  Whilst there currently seems to be no change anticipated to the overriding rule making landlords responsible for energy consumed by tenants, the government has indicated that it may reconsider those cases where a tenant is a sole occupier of a building responsible for its maintenance and therefore in control of its energy performance.

The sale of the first allowances under the CRC for the year 2011/2012 will take place in April 2012. 

Dilapidations­ – Landlord and Tenant

On 1 January 2012 the Property Litigation Association’s Dilapidations Protocol (Protocol) was adopted by the Civil Procedure Rules.  The Protocol was created to concentrate the parties’ minds at an early stage to promote settlement and to encourage best practice so eliminating exaggerated claims made by landlords.  It has been widely used by practitioners since its creation in 2002.  The adoption of the Protocol into the Civil Procedure Rules means the court can impose sanctions, typically in the form of costs penalties for the defaulting party, in the event the Protocol is not followed. However, it is understood that when the court is considering sanctions for non compliance with the Protocol it will concentrate on considering whether the parties have complied in substance with the Protocol’s principles and requirements and is not likely to be concerned with minor or technical shortcomings.

Energy Performance Certificates

Following the repeal and replacement of the EU Energy Performance of Buildings Directive 2002 in February 2012, the Energy Performance of Buildings (Certificates and Inspections)(England and Wales) (Amendment) Regulations 2011(2011 Regulations) will come into force on 6 April 2012.  The 2011 Regulations require: an Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) to be obtained before the marketing of properties whether for sale or letting; that all written property particulars include a copy of the first page of the EPC; and for all air conditioning reports to be registered on the new central register.

The Green Deal

The Green Deal, a flagship government initiative to increase the energy efficiency of properties in the public and private sector, forms the part of the Government’s Energy Act 2011 and creates a structure allowing private firms to offer their customers energy efficient measures, for example double glazing, loft or wall insulation, to be installed in their businesses or homes at no upfront cost.  Energy suppliers will then recover the Green Deal costs through an additional charge in the property’s energy bills. The first Green Deals are expected to be launched in Autumn 2012.  Whether a property is eligible for the scheme will be assessed by the “golden rule” of the Green Deal, i.e. that the predicted savings from the energy efficiency improvements to the property are equal or exceed the cost of installation.

Localism Act 2011

Having received Royal Assent in 2011, many of the provision of the Localism Act 2011 will take effect in April 2012.  For further details on the Localism Act 2011, please see http://www.foxwilliams.com/news/417/

The Mary Portas Review

Following the publishing of the Mary Portas Review on how to revive the high street on 13 December 2012, the Government is expected to publish its response in Spring 2012.  For further details on the review, please see our article http://www.foxwilliams.com/news/429

Stamp Duty Land Tax

On 24 March 2012, SDLT for first time buyers will end.

The relief for “zero carbon homes” will end on 30 September 2012.

 


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