Planning, Property & Land Law

This combination of laws concerns the ownership and use of land and property in England. Land law restricts and enforces limitations and conditions on submitting documents, registering interests in land, and changing ownership of land, as well as boundary, nuisance, and rights of use of land. Planning law covers the conditions developers and land owners must satisfy in order to obtain planning permission or other approvals for developments and alterations to their land and property. Property law seeks to protect rights in, and use of, residential and commercial property with a focus on the transaction between landlords and tenants; for instance, the protection from onerous terms and conditions, and to oblige landlords to be fair and reasonable when drafting tenancy agreements.



Here is what Planning, Property & Land Law covers:

Advertisements

An Advertisement is a notice or announcement put on public display which conveys a message or promotes a service or business. Depending on the size, colour and message of the advertisement, planning permission may be required before erecting it on property. There are also restrictions on advertisements included in some tenancy agreements, that require the prior written consent of the landlord.

Buildings Insurance

When executing either minor renovations or major building works, building insurance should be obtained to protect the owner in the event of an unforeseen or potential accident, that subsequently causes damage to the property. The insurance covers the cost of repairs to the property, and is normally a condition of a mortgage contract, to ensure the lender's interest is protected.

Building Regulations

Building Regulations Approval is required when carrying out certain building works or alterations to a property. There are enforcement notices that the local planning authorities may impose on any work completed that has not acquired prior approval. Fines can be issued as well as injunctions and enforcement notices, so obtaining guidance on seeking the relevant approvals is important.

Commercial Lease Agreement

A Commercial Lease Agreement is a contract for the use of property between the property owner and a business. The landlord permits the use of the property by the business, for business purposes, for a set amount of time and rent, and both the landlord and business tenant have rights and responsibilities under the contract, to maintain and repair the building.

Conservation Areas

A conservation area is an area with a special architectural or historical interest, and which has a character that should be preserved. These areas are specifically protected by law, and generally cannot be demolished or built upon. Local Planning Authorities determine what areas of land are deemed to be a conservation area. Planning permission is required for the smallest of building works or adjustments, and special permission (conservation area consent) is required via an application process, in order to demolish any part of a building in the area.

Conveyancing

Conveyancing is the term used to describe the process of buying and selling land or property. It involves a process of executing searches on the land to ensure there are no adverse interests or covenants the buyer shall be bound by on completion; as well as investigating the seller's title to verify their ownership. The process also involves an exchange of contracts, followed by completion, after which certain obligations are created, whereby the acquisition and any mortgages connected to it must be registered with the relevant authorities, and the relevant stamp duty land tax paid, within a strict timeframe.

Easements

The term Easement is used to describe the right to use or otherwise travel over another individual's land at specific times and/or purposes. The person with the benefit of the easement has certain duties of upkeep and maintenance of the passageway, and the person with the burden is obliged to ensure that the right of way is not obstructed unreasonably. Some easements are binding on successors in title, and so is something to look out for when acquiring land.

Freehold Estate

A Freehold Estate is an estate in land which provides rights of ownership. There are two types of freehold estate. The first is Fee Simple, which is a permanent tenure in land that gives the owner the ability to sell, renovate and build as they see fit. The second is Life Estate, which is the right of ownership only for the duration of the owner's life.

Mortgage

A mortgage is a written agreement between a debtor and a bank or building society (the "lender"), whereby the latter agrees to lend money to the debtor for part of the title of a property. On repayment of the debt plus interest, the lender's title becomes void, and full ownership of the property transfers to the debtor. Interest is charged on mortgage repayments, and a restriction is placed on the title deeds of the property, prohibiting its sale without first discharging the mortgage in favour of the lender.

Nuisance

Nuisance is a common law concept which involves the unreasonable interference of an individual's right to peaceful enjoyment of their land. This can include, among other things, light pollution, natural light blockage, smells, or excessive noise from a neighbour. It is actionable in tort and can lead to injunctions being implemented to stop the nuisance, and compensation can be awarded for any permanent loss of enjoyment.

Ownership

Ownership is the term used when one possesses something, in this context an area of land or a property. Ownership can be obtained through providing consideration via a conveyancing transaction, transferring the legal title from one person to another, or through the process of constant physical occupation and registration of interest. The land owner is entitled to use their land how they see fit, but must not transcend the boundaries of their land.

Planning Permission

Planning permission is required when carrying out developments on a property, such as a change of use or building works. Some developments do not require planning permission, and are detailed in statute, as permitted developments. It is vital that the owner obtain the necessary planning permissions before commencing work; failure to do so can result in sanctions and other legal consequences such as fines and injunctions.

Property Boundaries

A boundary, normally displayed as a line on a property plan, marks the dividing of separate areas or points of ownership of land. Physical boundaries can be erected to make the boundary unequivocal, such a fence, a brick wall, or a hedge. Land owners are only entitled to use their own land up to the property boundary, after which, they may be trespassing on another owner's property.

Property Taxes

Under the umbrella term "property taxes", there are a number of taxes to consider. Stamp duty land tax (also known as land and building transaction tax in Scotland) is paid after acquiring a property. VAT is a tax paid by landlords and tenants; capital gains tax is paid when profit is made from the sale of a property which is not the seller's own home; and annual tax on enveloped dwellings, is a tax paid by companies who own expensive residential property.

Protected Trees

Protected Trees are trees that contribute to the attractiveness and desirability of an area, or are deemed to be a useful feature. A Tree Preservation Order can be put in place by the local planning authority to protect trees of this kind. The order protects the tree(s) against destruction or interference without the prior written consent of the planning authority.

Registration

The process of registration concerns supplying relevant evidence to HM Land Registry, to register an interest in a piece of land. This interest could be occupation, ownership, or another persons' interest, such as a mortgage obtained via a third party. There are fees to pay during this process, and time constraints that must be adhered to, in order to avoid adverse interests being registered on the land against the owner. Legislation enforces compulsory registration of all unregistered land acquired after 1991. Registration makes it easier to identify ownership and title, and makes selling or transferring the property in the future less complex.

Rent Charge

A rent charge is an annual sum paid by the owner of freehold land, to a third party with no remaining interest in the land. Historically, rent charges were written into contracts for the sale of freehold land, when owners of large estates would split up and sell their land in separate sections. A common condition of contracts of this kind was that the new owner would continue to pay the seller a nominal amount every year to live off of the land; they are now more commonly used for ongoing maintenance of the land.

Residential Tenancy Agreements

A Residential Tenancy Agreement is a contract between a landlord and tenant for the tenant's private use of the landlord's property, for a set period of time at a rent. Common terms in a tenancy agreement of this kind include but are not limited to: the amount of rent charged, the term commencement date and duration of the term, maintenance and repair obligations, and the ability to transfer the lease through assignment or underletting. While property legislation seeks to reduce any imbalance in rights and responsibilities of the parties to the agreement, tenants should still read the agreement carefully to ensure their responsibilities under the contract are not too onerous.

Sites of Scientific Interest

A site of scientific interest is an area of land protected by law. They tend to be nature reserves or natural habitats for endangered species, and therefore it is imperative to protect the land and prohibit development or interference.

Tenants In Common

The term Tenants in Common is used to describe the way in which a property is held between its owners. Unlike joint tenants, tenants in common can hold unequal shares of a property. Consequently, there are no restrictions placed on the title register preventing the sale of the property by one person. A tenant in common can sell their interest without the other owner(s) permission. However, no tenant has the power to sell the entire property without first obtaining permission from all other owner(s). Additionally, the law of survivorship does not apply to tenants in common, unlike joint tenants, so on the death of one tenant in common, the deceased's share will pass by their will or intestacy rules, rather than transfer to the other owner(s).

Wayleave

The term Wayleave is used to describe a legally binding agreement between landowners and utilities/telecommunication providers, as well as miners, which gives them permission to install and replace equipment that runs under or on the land owner's property. This may be for the purposes of passing sewage or electricity through the land or to extract minerals or raw materials from the land. A Wayleave agreement runs with the land, so any successors in title are bound by the agreement. Providers can sometimes pay a fee for use of the land, and the agreement can also impose an obligation on the energy provider to maintain and pay for upkeep costs of the disturbed land.