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_Rural Report 2017: Tom Barrow explains the issues that can impact the value of rural properties

Tom Barrow, Knight Frank’s Head of Country Valuations, delves into his inbox to shed light on some common issues that can have a negative impact on the value of rural properties.

May 10, 2017

Intelligence

_Rural Report 2017: Tom Barrow explains the issues that can impact the value of rural properties

Tom Barrow, Knight Frank’s Head of Country Valuations, delves into his inbox to shed light on some common issues that can have a negative impact on the value of rural properties.

May 10, 2017

I have recently obtained planning permission for a development of new houses on land that I own. Some objectors to the planning application have applied for a Judicial Review. How does this affect the permission granted?

A Judicial Review is a type of court proceeding in which a judge reviews the lawfulness of a decision by a public body (in your case, the local planning authority, which will be a district council or unitary authority). A Judicial Review is a challenge to the way in which the decision has been made rather than the rights and wrongs of the conclusion reached. This may mean in your case that the same decision could be made again so long as it is done in a lawful way. The grounds of the challenge may well be on the basis of illegality, irrationality and unfairness.

A Judicial Review (if successful) could lead to the court granting a remedy by making of one of six orders. A quashing order is the most commonly requested remedy and it overturns an invalid decision. Claims for Judicial Review have to be brought promptly and there are strict time limits to be complied with. In your case, even if the council has acted unlawfully, there is no right to any of the remedies. Any order is at the absolute discretion of the Court.

An adjoining property owner (who is my neighbour) has written to claim an easement over land which is within my ownership. What are the implications of this?

An easement is a right enjoyed over a specific part of an area of land for the benefit of other land, for example a path or driveway. When you bought the land, your solicitor will have checked whether the land was subject to any easement in favour of third parties.

"The inability to sell without vacant possession could affect the value of your property"

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An easement can be claimed by express grant or reservation of a legal easement. This can be done by a deed forever (in perpetuity) or for a fixed period.

Your neighbour may be entitled to an easement if they can claim long use of the land for 20 years or more. The use must be enjoyed as a right which was used without “force, secrecy and permission”. It should be noted that if you gave permission for the use of the land, an easement cannot be claimed. If the claim is successful the right should be documented and any future sale of the property will be subject to the easement. 

I have some surplus land and buildings which I let on an informal verbal arrangement with a third party. I have plans to sell my property and wish this to be with vacant possession. The third party is claiming security and that he has “rights”. What are my options?

Informal arrangements are easy to implement as often they are by “word and mouth” or shaking hands. However, when the relationship fails, or in your case the occupier refuses to vacate, problems arise. If there is nothing in writing, it is your word against that of the third party. The inability to sell without vacant possession could affect the value of your property and the ability to sell it. There are grounds under the Landlord & Tenant Act 1954 in the case of commercial tenancies that a landlord can obtain vacant possession where the let property is required for his own use and/or planning permission exists for redevelopment.

The key aspect for any letting, (especially where a rent is paid, there is exclusive occupation, the letting is for greater than six months and the use is commercial) is to have a lease prepared by a solicitor and which is contracted out of sections 24 to 28 of the 1954 Act so no security is conferred beyond the term of the lease.

I own various residential properties that are currently let and I understand that it may soon become unlawful to let them unless there is compliance with minimum energy standards.

The Energy Act 2011 contained various provisions that affect property owners as well as occupiers. The most significant is the proposed minimum energy standard. From April 2018, it will be unlawful to let a residential or commercial property with an Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) of F or G (which are the lowest grades of energy efficiency). This will not apply to listed buildings.

The 2011 Act could have significant implications as some properties will be impossible to market unless they are upgraded to meet the minimum standards. Valuations of such properties could be affected if their marketability is diminished.

Owners and occupiers are recommended to obtain a full understanding of the energy efficiency of their property. Further details can be found on the Department for Communities and Local Government website together with details of how to find a domestic energy assessor.

Tom Barrow is Head of Country Valuations at Knight Frank. For advice on the matters raised please contact:

+44 7798 571081

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