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2011
What can you do to beat the recession? Can you protect your assets and your business? Is there a fast and low cost way to plan the sale of your property? You always have a choice - make sure you make the right one! Ring us and we will provide you updates on the most recent changes to regulation and to markets.

Tenancy
Rules for landlords to follow and to protect tenants regarding deposits details

Combatting Money Laundering
New and detailed amended rules to combat money laundering are in force As a result professional advisers must ask more questions and in some cases require more information and documentation from clients before they can accept instructions to act or advise. We will need to ask for more information in connection with acting for companies, partnerships, trusts, other bodies of people (such as clubs) and anyone who is acting as agent for another person. We may also need to go through the identification and verification procedures for shareholders, directors, managers, partners, trustees, beneficiaries, club members, anyone acting under a power of attorney, a receiver, administrator or insolvency practitioner or anyone appointed as an agent or broker of any kind. In addition, the exemption under the old rules for existing clients from the procedures for identification and verification has been removed. As a matter of policy we operate the new rules in relation to all clients and all matters. All we ask is that you attend at our offices with - your passport or picture driving licence - an original council tax, gas or electricity bill addressed to you and dated within the last three months For Data Protection Act purposes, we must also advise you that we are required to retain this information for at least five years.

HIP
The new government has kept one of its manifesto promises by suspending the HIPs legislation with immediate effect. EPC’s remain though under EU law but they are changing too: The EPC has to be commissioned before the start of marketing Commissioning means the Inspector has been asked to prepare the EPC and it has either been paid for or payment has been promised The person acting for the seller on the sale must be satisfied commissioning has taken place The seller and seller’s agent must make reasonable efforts to get the EPC within 28 days Penalties will be imposed for breaching these relaxed requirements The EPC will have a life of 10 years, not 3 years as at present or 3 months as originally envisaged. This brings it in line with EPC’s for rented property. Let marketing begin

Will
Did you see the Panorama programme on BBC 1 on 9th August? If you do not have a Will you need to know what to look out for so why not pop in for a chat. Link to the programme at www.bbc.co.uk/i/tfqqj or http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/b00tfqqj/Panorama_Wills_the_Final_Rip_Off/


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    Energy Performance Certificates

New regulations for EPC
From 5 April 2012 the Energy Performance of Buildings (Certificates and Inspections) (England and Wales) (Amendment) Regulations 2011 will impact upon necessary action at the marketing stage of selling a property.
Sellers, landlords, and agents of residential and commercial property must comply with the new rules to avoid penalties

Changes :
• EPCs will be required on marketing for non-domestic and rental properties with shortened time limits for ordering and producing 
• written or online property details will have to include a copy of the first page of the EPC – in its new format that makes recommendations clearer; asset rating alone is insufficient to comply
• air conditioning reports will require registration on the central EPC register


Requirements at marketing stage
Following withdrawal of Home Information Pack legislation the duty to commission an EPC was retained for residential property sales and for non domestic properties and for letting all types of properties
A seller must ensure an EPC is available or at least commissioned before the property is put on the market (Regulation 5A (2) of the 2007 Regulations)
Before they can start marketing the property an agent acting on behalf of the seller must be satisfied that an EPC exists or has been commissioned (Regulation 5A (3)).
If marketing begins and an EPC is not available then ‘all reasonable efforts’ must be made to obtain an EPC within 28 days, starting on the day the property is first put on the market (Regulation 5A (4))
The 2011 Regulations extend the duty to all property marketed for sale or for letting to have commissioned an EPC at the marketing stage.
There is a reduction from 28 days to seven day in the period during which ‘all reasonable efforts’ must be made to get the EPC
If an EPC is not obtained within seven days then the seller and seller’s agent have a further 21 days to secure an EPC, after which the defence of using all reasonable efforts is no longer available (Regulation 5A (4A))

Particulars of sale
Under the existing regulations either the asset rating or the EPC must be included with the written particulars for the property (Regulation 6(2))
The 2011 Regulations require the first page of the EPC to be attached to the particulars in all cases and extend the requirements to all property sales
It is intended that potential buyers and tenants will in future see in prominent position the recommendations attached to the EPC. The newly designed first page of the EPC will show potential cost savings and recommended improvements on the first page.

Air conditioning reports
Currently regulations require air conditioning systems over 12kW to be inspected every five years (Regulation 21), and an inspection report is produced (Regulation 22).
The inspection reports must include an assessment of the air conditioning efficiency and size of the system compared to the cooling requirements with advice on possible alternatives and possible improvement of the system.
The existing regulations include a requirement to lodge EPCs and accompanying recommendation reports on the central England and Wales Register kept on behalf of the Secretary of State (Regulation 31(1)(a)). There has been no requirement to lodge air conditioning inspection reports although assessors are encouraged to do this on a voluntary basis.
The 2011 Regulations amend the existing regulations to make it a requirement for air conditioning inspection reports to be lodged on the central register (Regulation 31(1)(d)).

Enforcing the regulations
Under the existing regulations, trading standards officers have the power to require a relevant person (the seller or landlord) to produce a copy of the EPC for inspection, and to take copies if necessary (Regulation 39). The new regulations extend these powers in relation to the duty to ensure that an EPC is commissioned before marketing starts.
In cases where the marketing starts before the EPC has been obtained, sellers, landlords and other persons acting on their behalf, need to be able to demonstrate that an EPC has been commissioned.

The changes introduced apply to properties marketed after 6 April 2012. However, there are transition provisions for residential properties marketed before 6 April 2012 as these can continue to rely on the existing regulations, with the longer time periods for obtaining an EPC.

The existing range of penalty charge notices for non-compliance with the 2007 Regulations will continue to apply and will extend to the new EPC requirements introduced from 6 April 2012.
Penalty charge notices can be imposed on any person under a duty under the regulations including sellers or landlords and those acting on their behalf.
In the case of residential property a penalty charge is limited to £200, but for commercial properties there is a minimum penalty of £500 and maximum of £5,000 with a sliding scale based on the rateable value (Regulation 43)

Unintentional breach
The new requirements involve small changes to current practice. These appear minor but failure to note the changes and implement them can be costly and troublesome.
It remains to be seen whether these subtle changes will impact upon the puchasing preferences of buyers and tenants.

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