Campaign Launched to Deny Squatters Commercial Property Rights

A campaign has recently been launched by an MP to extend the illegality of squatting to commercial properties. The property law campaign was launched following the occupation of a boarded-up and disused public house named the Upper Bell Inn which is in Blue Bell Hill near Chatham, Kent. The locals are backing up the MP to have a law pushed through, stating that the legislation must be amended in order to remove the squatters before damage is caused. Tracy Crouch, MP for Aylesford and Chatham is stating that the law must be extended from residential to commercial businesses, citing the fact that squatting in commercial properties is not a victimless crime.

commercial properties

Commercial Properties Rights

In an interview with the press, Crouch voiced concerns over the fact that there are so many disused pubs scattered throughout the country which are currently boarded up. The laws could mean that the refugee squatters could begin occupying small pubs all over the country. However, some critics have said that publicising such opportunities via the mainstream media is only going to help perpetuate the problem. Crouch told the press in a recent interview that she felt it imperative to have some clarity injected into the situation, especially for cases such as public houses where the use is mixed between residential and business. She finished by saying that people needed to know where they stand.

The news story comes just a few months after a decision to make a review of the property rates law for empty commercial buildings in the UK. The decision came as the Estates Gazette unrecovered information using the Freedom of Information Act which illustrated that the government itself spending over £50 million every year on its own business rates. A number of MPs got on board in order to shuffle around the legislation so as to avoid rates on empty commercial properties at least heavily discount them in order to save the government’s coffers. At the time this information came to light, many small business owners were optimistic about the potential money saved but the new squatting law has changed the perspective on things It’s a concern of many that opportunistic squatters will take to occupying commercial properties at an alarming rate.

Since start of this month, a new law states that anyone found in an empty residential home could face a prison sentence of up to 6 months. Further chiming in on behalf of the campaigners was Steven Cross, a security expert resident in Maidstone who reiterated that small business owners could not sustain costs created by squatters. Cross went on to add that owners of some of the owners of smaller properties could potentially have to fold their businesses as a direct result of damage caused by the squatters occupying their buildings.

Steve also mentioned to the press how he’d been in discussions with Crispin Blunt, the Minister of Justice, who’d agreed that it was vital to pass properties back into the hands of the rightful owners once the squatters were evicted.

For advice on any aspect of commercial property or for residential property conveyancing, visit Darlingtons Solicitors, who are accredited property law experts.

The outlook for the London property investment market

london property investment market

London Property Investment

For many years London has been viewed as a haven for domestic property investment. With capital value and rental growth consistently outperforming elsewhere in the UK it has attracted continual investment from both home investors and those overseas. Now a new report from Savills research suggests that prime market price growth may be on hold, at least for now.

Recent figures from the firm show that the London market enjoyed growth of 0.9 per cent in the second quarter of 2012. However, annual price growth for the year stood at six per cent – the lowest level since September since 2009. This would suggest that heat in the market has dwindled somewhat, but the group insists London is still a solid choice for investment prospects.

It is now three years since the markets bottomed out and we’ve seen a period of intense activity and price growth, but it now seems unlikely that the market will have the capacity for further price growth in the short term,” said Lucian Cook, director of Savills research.

Mr Cook explained that many factors had contributed to this slowing of growth, including the current instability in the eurozone and the changes in stamp duty implemented on properties sold for £2 million and above. That said, the core central markets and prestigious postcode areas continue to hold their appeal, particularly to international investors. Chelsea, Mayfair, Belgravia and Knightsbridge all enjoyed growth of 1.2 per cent or above in the second quarter and averaged an annual growth level of 8.9 per cent and are now an impressive 24.2 per cent above peak.

At the top end of the market, ultra-prime properties – those priced at £10 million and over – saw marginal growth of 0.2 per cent in the quarter. Though this at first appears to be a low level rise, it comes alongside an annual growth of 8.6 per cent year-on-year, outperforming the rest of the market.

The continued interest from overseas investors in market has begun to make an impact on the rental market, according to the group. Figures show that annual growth in the annual prime London rental market has slipped into negative territory for the first time in two years due to a 0.4 per cent decline year on year. The firm in part attributes this drop to the rising stock levels within prime London brought about by overseas investors bringing their rental property to market. A shift in the overall renting demographic in London is also said to have played its part, with fewer tenants from the financial and business services sector coupled with an increase in rental demand from young professionals.

Mr Cook explained: “The profile of tenants has changed as a direct consequence of weakened sentiment, with a notable decrease in big ticket tenants employed in the financial sector in the prime central and east of City markets of Canary Wharf and Wapping. As such, there are a number of new and increasingly localised market forces being seen in the capital.”

Commercial Properties in Wales to Have Shorter Leases

It has emerged that on average, leases on commercial properties in Wales are set to shorten, with property advisor Dan Smith proclaiming that in negotiations with landlords, tenants are in the driving seat.

commercial properties in wales

Commercial Properties in Wales

The good news emerged from a recent report by the British Property Foundation and Investment Property Databank, which concluded that average lease durations in the United Kingdom have fallen significantly to an average of 4.8 years.

Delving into greater depth the report confirms a fall in average lease lengths by 1.4 years, dropping from 6.2 years in 2007 to 4.8 years in 2011.

Meanwhile, at just 4.1, the duration for an SME lease is currently even shorter.

Even high streets retailers witnessed a reduction in lease duration – albeit a small one at that. Their experience was a fall from 7.7 to 7.6 years between 2011 and 2012 and a fall by 2.1 since 2007.

High street retail units saw a small reduction in lease lengths, falling from 7.7 to 7.6 years this year, however in 2007 this was 9.7 years.

In South Wales – a location which holds a reputation of offering greater flexibility in leases offered, than other regions throughout the UK – the average lease length is expected to be even shorter.

This is news in particular for those looking for capital allowances businesses such as Rift capital allowances, through the dealing of commercial properties. All in all, it means that the commercial property market in Wales is more advantageous from a buyer’s point of view than in England.

However, it isn’t so much good news for landlords of course. Whereas in London and other big cities multi-national companies look to secure longer term leases on substantial buildings for the benefit of their deals, in South Wales, the tenants aren’t so prosperous and so cannot afford such luxuries.

Landlords therefore need to adapt to the times and alter their goals in order to stand in correlation with the market.

5 Steps to Take Now to Fund Your Retirement



Unless you literally have money coming out of your ears, chances are good that you will need an additional boost to your income come retirement. Many UK residents are finding themselves more and more in need of retirement income. There are steps that you can take now that will ensure that you are a bit more prepared for retirement and will perhaps help to make your golden years a bit less stressful.

  • Put away money in savings – Savings accounts are a good thing and can help you to really be better prepared once you lose your regular income and begin relying on retirement funds. Choose a savings account that bears good interest and plan to regularly put money into this account for the next few years.
  • Think about when you want to retire – Although most people retire in their mid to late 60s, you can work a bit longer if necessary in order to fully enjoy your retirement when it does come. Think long and hard about how many years you need to save in order to be financially independent once retirement comes.
  • Invest – You can begin investing now no matter what your age and have quite a lump sum ready for you when you retire. Take some time to learn more about investments and which one is best for your financial needs. You will need to know how much you can afford to invest and how risky you want your investment to be. Keep in mind that higher risk investments typically offer larger payouts.
  • Talk to a financial advisor – A financial advisor can help you to make the proper choices for your specific retirement needs. Speak with someone about the steps that you need to take in order to be prepared for retirement years.
  • Remember your home equity – You could always fall back on this if you own your home outright. Again, talk to your financial advisor about using home equity if needed to stabilize your income in your golden years.

This article was written by Cheselden Continuing Care, the leading continuing care review specialists. To learn more about claiming back your care home fees, click here.


A parent’s guide to student accommodation

Student Accommodation

Student Accommodation

There’s always a lot to think about when one of your children leaves the nest, but perhaps the most important thing is ensuring they are settled and happy in their new home. Despite all the horror stories you may have heard about student accommodation, there are in fact some great properties – and landlords – available in every city, as long as you start the search early. Helping your child find the right accommodation isn’t just good for them, it also sets your own mind at rest!

First of all, as mentioned, begin looking as early as possible – usually from January onwards – if you don’t want to be left choosing from the pool of accommodation everyone else rejected. This will also give you more time to view a wider variety of properties, and consider the important questions – how much rent can they expect to pay? Are utility bills included? Is it close to the university, and how will they get there if not? Being involved in the decision-making process helps to ensure your son or daughter considers these things, and doesn’t just choose the closest place to the pub…

Take the time to look around properties with your offspring – you will probably have sharper eyes for problems like damp, damaged furniture or pests than they do. If there is some wear and tear on the furniture and fittings, ensure the landlord is aware of them and advise your son or daughter and their potential flatmates to take photos at the start of their tenancy in case of any disputes.

It’s also likely you have experience of your own in dealing with landlords, which could prove invaluable to your son or daughter. Make sure they think carefully the tenancy agreement before they sign it – do they have a break clause that would allow them to move out after a certain time period? Will their deposit be protected by a scheme? (If it’s not, be suspicious – in most cases, it’s the law!) The rent amount and arrangements for payment should be set out in the tenancy agreement, along with how often the rent can be reviewed. For more information, check here for a complete guide to student accommodation.