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Is it possible to apply for a grant of probate at the moment?

Yes. The system for Probate Applications has moved on-line and continues to be available as well as by post. However, if you need to complete an Inheritance Tax Return IHT400 you are likely to experience problems collating information due to delays in many organisations being able to provide you with current values while their offices are closed and staff working remotely. Property valuations will be particularly problematic where surveyors or valuers are unable to attend properties to undertake non-urgent work. If you cannot wait, you must use your best endeavours to be as accurate as possible as regards the information you provide in the IHT400 and follow up by providing HMRC with actual values as soon as you can do so. HM Courts and Tribunal Service is however warning that delays can be expected at this time.

Related FAQs

Can furloughed workers still continue with union or non-union representation duties?

Yes, they can continue to undertake duties or activities for representative purposes. This includes individual or collective representation of their colleagues. They must not carry out any actual work or generate revenue for their employer or a linked or associated organisation.

What is the over-riding statutory duty for employers to ensure the health and safety of employees?

It is worth pointing out that, despite all the guidance, survey results and other advice about managing Covid-19 H&S risk in the workplace, the law has not been changed. None of the guidance is codified by regulation/legislation, which means that you are managing this risk in the context of existing H&S law.

In very simple terms, HASWA74 requires employers to take “all reasonably practicable steps” to ensure the health and safety of its employees (and anyone else affected by your business).

“Reasonably practicable” means to balance risk reduction against the time, money and effort required. If measures are grossly disproportionate, you wouldn’t be expected to take them, but there is a strong presumption in favour of taking any steps which will protect workers.

As part of managing the health and safety of your people, you must control the risks in your workplaces. To do this, look for what might cause harm to people while they work and decide whether you are taking reasonable steps to prevent that harm. This related duty under MHSWR is to ensure you undertake a “suitable and sufficient assessment of risks.”

How do I set the hours that my employees will work under the Flexible Furlough Scheme?

Employers and employees can decide the split of the hours of work and the hours of furlough. There is no maximum or minimum requirements. You can change the arrangement, by agreement, from time to time.

When claiming for employees who are flexibly furloughed, you should not claim until you are sure of the exact hours they will work during the claim period.

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.

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.