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Legal News | 10.10.19

Commercial Quarterly Update October 2019

Do you rent out a property in Wales?

We recently acted for a client who inherited a property in Wales with a tenant in possession. When it comes to the rules on dealing with the property as a landlord including evicting the tenant in order to sell the property, Wales operates on a different basis to English tenanted properties and this can catch landlords out.

Since the 23rd of November 2015 it became a legal requirement to register as a landlord if you rent out property in Wales. The aim of the new law was to prevent rogue and illegal landlords and also to raise awareness of the rights and regulations that all involved have to follow.

To understand whether a property owner needs to register themselves, there are three questions to ask:

1.Do you own property in Wales that you don’t live in? 

2.Do you allow somebody else to live in such property, in exchange for money? 

3.Is the property rented on an assured, assured shorthold or regulated tenancy? 

If the answer is Yes to all of these, then registration is needed. All landlords must register themselves with ‘Rent Smart Wales’ and this registration cannot be done by anyone else on the landlord’s behalf unfortunately.

What falls under the ambit of landlord is anything from individuals to groups of people or even companies. If the property is jointly owned then only one of the owners has to register the property on behalf of all others. If owning multiple rental properties, these all must be including in the form when registering as a landlord.

To further complicate matters, an additional requirement is needed for those landlords that also manage their properties, rather than having an agent who does so. These landlords must also obtain a license to carry out management activities. Landlords will need to provide all relevant information on themselves and their property, complete a ‘fit and proper’ person declaration and provide evidence they have completed the relevant training.

The consequences for not registering or applying for a license can be a fixed penalty notice or even prosecution for non-compliance. This is therefore very serious and not to be taken lightly.

At Wansbroughs we can advise and assist landlords who own property in Wales that they rent out including help on the registration and licensing process, along with eviction procedures. If you want to know more, contact Josh Taylor in our Commercial Team on 01380 733300 or josh.taylor@wansbroughs.com.

Are you mindful of the Menopause?

The requirement to consider menopause within the workplace is now firmly within the ambit of the employment law. Currently 1 in 3 workers are over 50, 47% of those being women so it is clearly an issue which may affect your workforce. An employer may find itself subject to a claim for discrimination on grounds of gender, age or even disability under the Equality Act 2010. In a recent Scottish unfair dismissal/discrimination case an employee suffering in connection with the menopause was found to have a disability and secured £19,000 in compensation as well as an order for reinstatement.

All women experience the menopause differently and so each employee will need to be considered on a case by case basis. Some symptoms of the menopause are: increased stress, sleep issues, mood changes, inability to concentrate and hot flushes. An employer should take this into consideration when responding to individual flexible working requests, support requests, work place harassment or reasonable adjustment requests. A more pro-active employer may even provide a policy to cover the menopause and any absence relating to it, train managers to understand the issues which may arise and consider it as part of a more general occupational health risk assessment. Actions might include access to cold water, temperature adjustment measures such as fans and a sympathetic staff officer or doctor referral process to address concerns. Every case will require individual attention.

If you would like more advice on this topic, then get in touch with solicitor Emma Jewell in the commercial team at Wansbroughs. She advises clients on a broad range of commercial and corporate matters, including employment disputes. To discuss the matters raised in this article or any commercial or corporate queries, please contact her on 01380 733300, or at emma.jewell@wansbroughs.com.

Automatic email signatures can now sign binding contracts.

A recent case heard in the Manchester County Court has ruled that automatic signatures found at the end of emails, stating name, place of work, job title and contact details, is now being included in what counts as a signature to form a binding contract. In the case, the owner of the property’s lawyer wanted to sell the land for £200,000 but in her email, she had put £175,000. The buyer’s lawyer accepted this and responded to the email, notifying them of the acceptance. It was argued however that the sale was not binding because there was no paperwork signed.

The judge hearing the case decided that the automatic signature at the end of the email sent served as his signature, and with the signature of the buyers lawyer being sent back, this constituted a binding contract as the law states in section 2(1) of the Law of Property Act 1989. The judge remarked that the fact the automatic email signature had not been added to other emails sent between the parties, as well as the use of the sign off ‘many thanks’ showed an intention to connect the name with the contents of the email.

This case shows that the law is moving on to keep up with the increase in emailing throughout case matters, instead of face-to-face meetings. Clients should be careful what they put in their emails to the other side and should use this case as a reminder to always check and double check final details. However, a way to prevent the ruling of this case from effecting others, could be to include something in emails like, ‘this email does not constitute a legal binding contract’, or even ‘subject to contract’ to ensure there are no contracts accidentally formed.

If you would like more advice on this topic, then get in touch with paralegal Bethany Fitzgerald in the commercial team at Wansbroughs. To discuss the matters raised in this article or any commercial or corporate queries, please contact her on 01380 733300, or at bethany.fitzgerald@wansbroughs.com.