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Do leaseholders who have more than three properties in the UK have to pay the full contribution for building safety works and is there a way of finding out how many properties out leaseholders have in the UK?

The first point to note is that it is the position as at 14 February 2022 which is relevant, as whether or not a lease is a ‘qualifying lease’ for the purposes of recovering costs under the Building Safety Act was effectively frozen at that time.

If a leaseholder owned more than three properties in the UK (and the property in question was not their principal home) at that time, then the lease will not be a qualifying lease. The protections under the Act which prevent or restrict the landlord’s ability to recover the cost of remedial works through the service charge will not therefore apply to that lease (save potentially for the provision that costs cannot be recovered where the landlord is responsible for the defects, which does not expressly refer to qualifying leases).

The lack of a searchable database to assess how many properties a leaseholder has in the UK is however one of the difficulties to be resolved in this regard, as there is currently no way of searching the Land Registry to obtain a list of properties owned by one individual. The guidance appears to rely on the leaseholder completing the leaseholder deed of certificate being open and honest in this regard, and that deed of certificate being passed onto subsequent owners. Making false representations or failing to disclose required information in the deed of certificate may be a criminal offence, although reliance on this to discourage mis-reporting is clearly less satisfactory than having a searchable register.

Related FAQs

Are there any other useful resources about apprenticeships during the coronavirus outbreak?

On 6 April 2020 the Government published further guidance to clarify the position with apprentices during the Covid-19 outbreak. The full guidance is available from here https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/coronavirus-covid-19-apprenticeship-programme-response/coronavirus-covid-19-guidance-for-apprentices-employers-training-providers-end-point-assessment-organisations-and-external-quality-assurance-pro

The guidance includes details of the measures implemented by the Education and Skills Funding Agency (ESFA) in order to provide flexibility in delivering apprenticeships in current circumstances. This includes breaks in learnings, delayed end point assessments and alternative arrangements for end point assessments. These measures apply immediately and until further notice.

There are a number of FAQs within the Government guidance which deal with common queries. The guidance contains some technical provisions and we recommend that you take advice if you are furloughing or making apprentices redundant. If you have any additional queries on the practicalities of implementing the ESFA measures please get in touch.

Further guidance changes to apprenticeships due to coronavirus can be found here.

What about employees who say they cannot return to work due to childcare issues?

Employers will need to be flexible with employees who are unable to return to work at present due to childcare difficulties. While schools have reopened, a period of isolation may result in employees having to keep children off school/nursery and therefore have childcare issues. Some employees will be able to manage this with their partner and extended family, whereas others will not. Where an employee simply cannot make any other arrangements to care for their children in the short term then they will be unable to return to work until that situation changes. Any dismissals on the basis that someone is unable to return to work as a result of lack of childcare are likely to be unfair, at least in the short term where such employees may well be able to demonstrate that they had no options available to them.

I lease commercial premises. Can my landlord forfeit my lease?

As part of the Coronavirus Bill there is some good news for tenants in so far as it included the following:

  • All commercial tenants in England, Wales and Northern Ireland missing rent payments are to benefit from a government ban on forfeiture of their lease.
  • Landlords then will be prevented from terminating leases and “evicting” commercial tenants.
  • The above provisions rules will apply not only to principal rent, but to “any sum a tenant is required to pay”, leaving the burden of supplying services and insuring the premises on landlords. The bill will last until 30 June 2020, with an option for the government to extend this deadline.

Whist this is helpful to any Tenant planning not to pay rent or other payments due under their lease insofar as they will not suffer forfeiture and be evicted, it should be noted that the contractual obligation to continue paying rent and all other costs due under the lease remains and Landlords will still be able to take action to recover any payments due under the lease that are in arrears.

Who is liable to pay the fine for not wearing a face mask at work, the employer or the employee?

If an employee is required under government guidance to wear a face mask during the course of their employment and there is no applicable exemption, any fine issued would be payable by the employee, not the employer.

I have to pay my ex-spouse monthly spousal maintenance pursuant to a Court Order and I can no longer afford to pay. Can I stop paying?

Maintenance Orders embodied in a Court Order are variable. If you have lost a very large part of your income, then the Courts ought to take that into consideration when looking at a Court Application to reduce or end spousal maintenance payments. The outcome of any Court Application will, however, depend on a number of factors.

Technically, you should not just stop paying or reduce the maintenance payments, as your ex-spouse could then make an Application to Court for enforcement and payment of the arrears. You could ask the Court to forego you having to pay those arrears if you had evidence to prove that you could not make the payments, however, the Court will need to take a fair approach and you should not assume this request will be agreed.

You should first try to negotiate a reduction or termination of the maintenance with your ex-spouse, either directly or through a Solicitor. If this is possible, you should obtain a Court Order reflecting that agreement. Where a sensible compromise cannot be reached, a Court Application may be necessary.