New Scottish Private Residential Tenancy in force from 1 December 2017

The Scottish Government has published regulations which confirm that the new form of Scottish residential tenancy, known as the Private Residential Tenancy will be introduced on 1 December 2017. This new form of tenancy was created by the Private Housing (Tenancies) (Scotland) Act 2016 with the intention of improving security of tenure for tenants and also giving protection for landlords, lenders and investors.

The significant benefits for landlords include:

  • No more pre-tenancy notices such as the AT5.
  • If a tenant is in arrears of rent a landlord can refer a case for repossession more quickly.
  • The Private Residential Tenancy will include standardised terms.
  • When regaining possession of a property only one simple notice called a “notice to leave” will be required.
  • There will be 18 grounds for repossession, which include new grounds where the property has been abandoned or the landlord intends to sell.

The changes will only apply to tenancies created on or after 1 December 2017. Any tenancies existing prior to that will remain short assured tenancies or assured tenancies. The new tenancy will be open-ended and will end when the tenant gives notice of their intention to leave the property or the landlord evicts the tenant on one of the 18 modernised statutory grounds. You will find more information and guidance using these links.

https://beta.gov.scot/publications/private-residential-tenancies-landlords-guide/

https://beta.gov.scot/publications/private-residential-tenancies-tenants-guide/

If I can assist in any way please do not hesitate to contact me Alison Gourley on 0141 552 3422 or by email ajg@mitchells-roberton.co.uk

Milestone Moments for Writing a Will

Throughout most of the world, disposal of an estate has been a matter of social custom. According to Plutarch, one of the best known Greek biographers and essayist, the written will was invented by Solon, an Athenian politician and lawmaker born in 638BC and was originally a device intended solely for men without an heir.

So much has changed of course but at present, will writing campaign group Will Aid indicate that only around half of the adults in the UK have made a will. By asking a cross section of people with a will what caused them to make one, Will Aid discovered  that one of the commonest reasons was hitting a significant birthday. 20% of those interviewed said landmark birthdays such as turning 30, 40 or 50 were one of  the primary reasons for making their first will. There are indeed other milestone moments that prompt writing a will such as getting married, having a child or buying your first property.

In reality though it does not matter how old you are or whatever your circumstances, having a professionally drawn up will in place is the best way to ensure your wishes are met after your death as you should never assume that your assets will automatically pass to the people closest to you.

Key reasons for making a will include:

  • Reassurance: A will is the best way to help ensure your savings and possessions go to the people and causes that you care about.
  • Avoiding disputes. Disputes over assets can arise among family members. By leaving a will you remove any doubt about how you want your estate dealt with.
  • Looking after your children. A will allows you to appoint legal guardians for your children.
  • Your funeral: Your will can be a way to let people know whether you would prefer to be buried or cremated, and the type of funeral service and music you would like.

There have been a number of notable wills through time. The Nobel Prizes were established by Alfred Nobel’s will.  The longest known legal will is that of Englishwoman Frederica Evelyn Stilwell Cook. It was 1066 pages and had to be bound in four volumes. The shortest known legal wills are those of Bimla Rishi of Delhi, India “all to son” and Karl Tausch of Hesse ,Germany “all to wife” both containing only two words in the language they were written in (Hindi and Czech respectively). While your own will may not make the headlines it still is extremely important to have one.

For advice on writing or updating your will please contact Heather Warnock on 0141 552 3422 or by email on heather@mitchells-roberton.co.uk

Parkers Take Note

I was chatting to someone the other day who said they had received a parking ticket for parking their van in a Morrison’s car park for four hour. The gentleman said he was just going to throw it away because it was unenforceable.

With my solicitor’s hat on I told him that this unfortunately was a common myth and that recently motorist ,Carly Mackie, received the largest ever parking fine in Britain amounting to £24,500. Ms Mackie had been issued with multiple parking charges by Vehicle Control Services Limited who were employed by the factors of her parents’ housing estate to provide a parking scheme. In the estate there were visible signs , eight in all,  advising that a permit was required to park in the area and the consequences of a fine if the terms and conditions were breached.

Despite this Ms Mackie parked her car outside her mother’s home and ignored the almost daily parking charge notices on her windscreen. She wrongly believed she was entitled to park her mini without a permit within the private parking area and that the tickets were unenforceable. Ms Mackie had been offered a parking permit but declined on principle.

However the private firm Vehicle Control Services Limited took her to court last year when she had racked up an £18,500 bill for ignoring more than 200 penalty notices. The action raised at Dundee Sheriff Court was defended by Ms Mackie on the basis that Vehicle Control Services Limited had no right to issue the parking charges and therefore she was under no obligation to pay them.

Generally speaking the public accepts that Local Authorities are able to issue parking tickets known as a fixed penalty. But car parking operators are able to issue parking charges for private car parks provided they display signs in the parking area setting out the terms and conditions of use.  If a motorist parks a car within a private parking area  which has clear signage setting out terms and conditions of using the car park then the driver is taken to have accepted the terms and has entered into a contract which if breached can lead to charges being applied.

In a written judgement of the case Sheriff George Way said Ms Mackie had “entirely misdirected herself on both the law and the contractual chain in this case” and ordered her to pay £24,500.

So be warned!

Employment Tribunal Fees Ruled as Unlawful

On 26 July 2017, the Supreme Court unanimously upheld an appeal by UNISON that tribunal fees, introduced by the UK government in 2013, are unlawful under UK and EU law. The ruling, described as “momentous”, has led to the existing fees regime being quashed.

UNISON’s claim, first issued in 2013, was that employment tribunal fees prevented employees on low incomes and those facing discrimination from accessing justice. Judgments from the High Court in 2013 and the Court of Appeal in 2015 both ruled in favour of the Government.

From July 2013, tribunal claims were classified as type A or type B based on how long the claim would take to be resolved. A single claimant filing a type A claim required to pay fees of £390. Type B claims attracted fees of £1200.

In practical terms, the decision of the Supreme Court means:

  • Fees are no longer payable for Employment Tribunal or Employment Appeal Tribunal claims.
  • Fees paid since 2013 are likely to be repayable by the Government – this will include cases where unsuccessful employers have been ordered to pay employee’s costs.

The President of the Law Society of England & Wales, Joe Egan, described the decision as “a triumph for access to justice, and a resounding blow against attempts to treat justice as a commodity rather than the right it is.” Egan added the decision of the Court supported the views of many that “the hike in tribunal fees… would deny people the chance to uphold their basic rights at work. Today the Supreme Court has vindicated that view and restored access to justice for those mistreated in the workplace.”

The judgement itself points towards a new regime with fees being set at a lower level or a more generous system of remission but this will require legislation so will take time. Another potential consequence is that time-barred claims may now be submitted on the basis that the unlawful fee regime deterred employees from submitting claims in time.

If you are an employer or employee facing difficulties in the workplace, please contact Paul Neilly or Hugh Grant by telephone (0141 552 3422) or email (pdn@mitchells-roberton.co.uk or hjg@mitchells-roberton.co.uk).

Is Body Art a Workplace Issue?

Recent research by Acas and Kings College, which explored employer perceptions on staff appearance at work found that visible body modifications such as piercings or tattoos are still likely to be frowned upon in certain areas of the service sector with some employers being worried that potential customers may be put off.

Certainly tattoos used to be considered part of a counterculture but today they have gained wider social acceptance – more and more people, men and women alike, have them and it is understood that a third of young people in the UK have tattoos.

So companies could be missing out on talented staff due to their outdated attitudes towards people who have a tattoo Acas states. They are urging firms to change their attitudes and relax their dress codes. Stephen Williams, Acas Head of Equality commented that “Businesses are perfectly within their right to have rules around appearance at work but these rules should be based on the law as appropriate and the needs of the business, not managers’ personal preferences.”

He further added that “While it remains a legitimate business decision, a dress code that restricts people with tattoos might mean companies are missing out on talented workers.”

But what I would ask is whether having a tattoo or not has any relevance on the individual’s ability to do their job?  Could there be legitimate resentment from employees with tattoos who may be judged purely upon their appearance rather than on the skills and attributes which they could bring to the business?

In an interview with the Sunday Times Margaret Mountford, the former right- hand woman of Lord Sugar recently warned that tattoos were a real problem for British young people, seriously decreasing their chances of getting a job. Indeed last year Charlotte Tumilty a trainee teacher was sent home on her first day of work at a Catholic School when staff objected to her tattoos.  Her case prompted debate about whether anti-tattoo discrimination should be made illegal. At the moment under UK law workers have no protection under discrimination legislation for having a tattoo.

So what would I suggest to an employer :

  1. Please keep an open mind- just because someone has a tattoo do not discount them without taking a proper look at their skills. If a candidate has got to interview stage then you must have seen something in their CV.
  2. Outline clear policies on what is and isn’t allowed and let staff know how these decisions have been reached.
  3. Talk to employees about their body art as open communication is the best way forward.

Embracing your workforce whether they are tattooed or not could lead to a more relaxed  atmosphere and  increase productivity levels.

At Mitchells Roberton we have staff with tattoos and I am one of them.

If you would like to discuss any employment law matter, please contact Hugh Grant (hjg@mitchells-roberton.co.uk) or Paul Neilly (pdn@mitchells-roberton.co.uk) or telephone 0141 552 3422. http://www.mitchells-roberton.co.uk

A Recent Study Predicts Greater Demand for Inheritance Tax Advice

Prudential have carried out new research showing that financial advisers are forecasting a sharp rise in demand for Inheritance Tax advice. It was found that 7 out of 10 advisers interviewed expect demand for IHT planning to grow over the next 12 months. However 17% of advisers feel that due to regulatory changes, they are not sufficiently confident in advising on IHT issues and are looking to develop links with legal firms.

The study shows that part of the increase in demand for IHT is due to the new IHT rules that came into effect in April this year. These rules are complex and comprise an additional £100,000 per person residence nil-rate band. This limit will increase each year and complements the standard nil rate band to provide a potential £1million IHT allowance for a couple in 2020/21

Increased access to pension savings as a result of Pension Freedoms and the ability to leave pension wealth to family as well as rising property prices are other major factors.

Paul Harrison, Head of Business Consultancy at Prudential commented “Rising property and pension wealth are making it increasingly important for advisers to be able to help clients with specialist advice on IHT planning and demand for advice is booming.”

“One specialist area that is driving demand for IHT advice is enquiries about using trusts”

If you would like advice on inheritance tax planning then please contact a member of our Private Client Department who will be happy to help you. Please find out more at http://www.mitchells-roberton.co.uk

A Recent Report Gives Insight into Housing Market Activity in Scotland

Registers of Scotland have released a new report which gives an interesting insight into property market trends over the past ten years. It reveals that the total value of the residential sales market in Scotland from 2007-08 to 2016-17 reached over £143.4 billion.

“The Scottish property market is a significant component of the Scottish economy” explained RoS business development and information director Kenny Crawford. “In 2016-17 the total value of residential sales alone was £16.7 billion, an increase of 1.0% compared with 2015-16”

Mr Crawford further states that “We’ve also seen an increase in average house prices over the decade, up 7.7% when comparing 2016-17 with 2007-08.”

“Overall house prices remained relatively stable across each year of the decade, with the exception of a more pronounced year on year increase between 2013-14 and 2014-15.

Other report findings include:

  • New-build property sales accounted for 12% of the all Scotland sales in 2016-17 with a total of 12,014 sales
  • There was a 36.2% decrease in the number of residential properties sold for over a million pounds when comparing 2007-08 with2016-17 although this should be seen in the context of a drop of 32.8% in total sales volumes between these years.
  • A drop of 30.3% in the number of sales being registered with a mortgage when comparing 2007-08 with 2016-17
  • A market value of £4.1 billion for non residential sales in 2016-17
  • A 5.3% increase in the volume of commercial leases from 905 in 2015-16 to 953 in 2016-17

Latest data from Halifax shows that there has been a 3% fall in property sales between March and April 2017 to 99,910. This followed three successive months when sales were above 100,000.

According to the Halifax supply continues to be an issue for the housing market. The number of properties coming on to the market fell for the 14th consecutive month in April which kept the average stock levels on estate agent’s books close to a historic low.

If I can help you with buying or selling a property in Scotland then please contact me Alison Gourley by email on ajg@mitchells-roberton.co.uk or by telephoning 0141 552 3422.