The biggest news in the rural property world this week was the release of news on the Reform of the ‘Model Clauses’ coming into effect on 1st October 2015. For those who don’t know, these are a set of obligations which apply to farm tenancies in the UK, mainly those tenancies which predate the Agricultural Tenancies Act 1995.
The changes are certainly more onerous in terms of clarifying landlords’ obligations, as in a number of cases responsibility for repair/ replacement of farm equipment has switched from tenant’s responsibility to landlord’s responsibility. Landlords could now be responsible for the maintenance and repair of electrical supply systems – if these have not been properly maintained by the tenant beforehand could be hugely expensive.
There is a ‘get out of jail card’ though – where either landlord or tenant gains a liability they have one month from 1 October to seek compensation if there had previously been a failure to fulfil that responsibility, or put in a place a simple agreement that the liability will not be transferred. So the owners of land and farms for investment purposes should make sure that their land agents advise them on the most cost effective course of action now!
In other news, the RICS has released its Housing Market Survey for July, making evident that a lack of housing supply has led to increases in demand and prices gaining momentum for the sixth consecutive month. These increases are set to continue over the next 12 months too.
Jeremy Blackburn (Head of Policy, RICS) has stated that “a coherent and co-ordinated housebuilding strategy is required, including measures that will kick-start supply side”. This probably isn’t best demonstrated by the High Court’s recent ruling to overturn the exemption of development schemes of less than ten houses from S106 obligations. This move could have a detrimental impact on predicted housing supply, as it becomes too expensive for housebuilders to complete smaller ‘infill’ schemes. The Department for Communities and Local Government will appeal this decision.
Locally, our Forest Heath District Council (FHDC) launched the consultation period for the Local Plan on Tuesday 11th August 2015, which will run until Tuesday 6th October 2015 – so plenty of time for all of the district’s residents (including Woolley!) to have their say on the numbers of houses needed, and where these houses along with jobs and schools should be located. We look forward to submitting our comments in the next few weeks.
And in more light-hearted news, Woolley have welcomed a new member to the team. Everybody meet Winston!