What Changes to Expect in 2014

Highlights to look out for in 2014 include:

  • Implementation of the commercial rent arrears recovery scheme (see earlier article)
  • Proposals to assist businesses in England with the cost of business rates (see earlier article)
  • The passage through Parliament of the High Speed Rail (London-West Midlands) Bill 2013/2014
  • A focus on tighter regulation of the privately rented sector
  • More detail on the reform of the common agricultural policy
  • Reform of flood insurance through the Water Bill 2013/14
  • The law commissions response on its rights to light consultation and decisions on its twelfth programme of reform
  • The help to buy schemes which are up and running and additional support for right to buy (see articles under residential section)
  • A halving of the final period exemption for principal private residence relief

Compulsory Purchase, Compensation and Blight

HS2

  • The government continues to press ahead with the new High Speed Rail link (HS2). In late November 2013, following the enactment of the High Speed Rail (Preparation) Act 2013, the government published the High Speed Rail (London-West Midlands) Bill 2013/14 (HSR Bill).  The HSR bill contains various powers that will enable the construction of phase one of the HS2.  The HSR Bill will progress through Parliament during 2014.  The Department for Transport (DFT) also published the HS2 Phase One environmental statement and requested comments on it.  The consultation period closed on the 24th January 2014.
  • The compensation schemes for Phase One of HS2, the London to West Midlands line, should come into operation by summer 2014.  The DFT have consulted twice on it’s proposals.

Conveyancing

Land Registry Fees
The Land Registration Fee Order 2013 came into force on the 17th March 2014, replacing The Land Registration Fee Order 2012.  Many applications will now benefit from a 50% reduction in the registration fee if they are delivered electronically.

Development and Construction

Adoption of Sewers

Section 42 of the Flood and Water Management Act 2010 (FWMA 2010) could possibly be brought into force in England during 2014.  Section 42 came into force in Wales on the 1st October 2012.  Section 42 provides that an owner or occupier wishing to construct new sewers and lateral drains (including associated pumping stations) cannot connect to the public sewage system unless the Section 104 Adoption Agreement is in place, and prescribed certain provisions that the Section 104 Agreement must contain.  Until Section 42 is brought into force in England, developers and land owners have an absolute right to connection into the sewage system under Section 106 of the Water Industry Act 1991, and undertakers are not obliged to adopt.

Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2007
Work is underway to simplify The Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2007 (CDM 2007), but the revised package of regulations (which will include a new statutory instrument and Approved Code of Practice) is still awaited.  A target date for implementation is currently October 2014.

Noise Nuisance
From July to October 2013, the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) consulted on the second round of noise action plans which cover roads, railways and agglomerations (large urban areas).  DEFRA intends to finalise and adopt the new action plans, in place of the existing action plans, in early 2014.

Sustainable Drainage Systems
DEFRA is considering the implementation of the approval regime for sustainable drainage systems (SUDS), set out in schedule 3 to the FWMA 2010.  The original target date for implementation was the 1st October 2012.  That date was revised to April 2014.

Easements, Covenants and Third Party Rights

Rights of Light
From February to May 2013, the Law Commission (Commission) consulted on four provisional proposals relating to rights to light.  The Commission has not indicated when it is likely to publish its response to the consultation, but it is hoped that it will be during 2014.

Energy and Buildings

CRC Energy Efficiency (CRC) Scheme

The CRC is a mandatory emissions trading scheme for large businesses and public sector organisations in the UK.  It came into force from the 1st April 2010.  The scheme is divided into seven phases.  On the 31st March 2014, the first phase of the CRC ended.  The subsequent phase, which used to be known as “phase 2” but is now known as the “initial phase”, commenced on the 1st April 2014 and runs to the 31st March 2019.  Organisations that are covered by the CRC needed to register as a participant for the initial phase by the 31st January 2014.  The initial phase introduces two fixed price sales in relation to each annual reporting year.  There will be a cheaper price for forward sales (based on an organisations predicted CRC emissions) and a more expensive price for the later, buy to comply, sale (based on what an organisation has actually omitted).

Energy Efficiency Directive 2012

  • Member states are required to implement the Energy Efficiency Directive 2012 (EED 2012)  into national Law by the 5th June 2014.  One of the various obligations imposed by the EED 2012 is that member states must establish long term strategies for mobilising investment in the renovation of their national stock of buildings, both public and private, residential and commercial.  Member states must publish their strategies by 2014 and update them every 3 years as part of their national energy efficiency action plans.
  • The Energy Efficiency (Eligible Buildings) Regulations 2013 were made on the 18th December 2013 and came into force for the most part on the 15th January 2014.  The regulations implement article 5 of the EED 2012 by requiring the government to achieve an energy-saving target of 163.6 gw hours in eligible buildings that are owned and occupied by central government, by 31st December 2020.  Regulation 4 imposes a statutory duty on the government to encourage public bodies to improve their energy efficiency by adopting energy efficiency plans (this requirement comes into force on the 5th June 2014).

Energy Efficiency in the Privately Rented Sector

  • Sections 43 and 49 of the Energy Act 2011 enable the government to make regulations specifying a minimum level of energy efficiency for (respectively) domestic and non-domestic privately rented property in England & Wales, before the landlord can let the property.  The relevant minimum standard will be linked to the EPC rating.  The relevant regulations must be in force before the 1st April 2018 but can be brought into effect earlier.  As yet, no draft regulations have been published.  It is understood that the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) intends to issue a consultation on draft regulations in 2014.
  • Ahead of the instructions of minimum standards in 2018, the government will provide funding through the Green Deal specifically to help landlords to bring their properties up to a minimum standard.
  • On the 6th August 2013, DCLG published a consultation on the various options for Allowable Solutions for zero carbon homes.  The consultation closed on the 15th October 2013 and the government will publish it’s response to the consultation in 2014.  Allowable Solutions is the mechanism that will enable house builders to meet part of the 2016 zero carbon target for new homes through a variety of off-site carbon abatement measures (such as paying into a carbon abatement fund).  The majority of the zero carbon requirements will need to be met through on-site measures, such as increasing the energy efficiency of the fabric of the building and on-site renewable energy.

The Green Deal
The Energy Act 2011 introduced the Green Deal, which is a range of energy efficiency measures for both domestic and non-domestic building occupiers, and private sector landlords. They receive finance from accredited providers for energy efficiency improvements, which will be paid for by energy bill savings.  The Green Deal was formally launched in January 2013.  On the 2nd December 2013, the government announced various changes to the Green Deal, aimed at addressing the disappointingly low take up of the scheme.  It will be interesting to see if the reforms are effective and take up improves in 2014

Landlord & Tenant

Law Commission 12th Programme of Law Reform

  • The commissions consultation on what to include in it’s 12th law reform programme closed on the 31st October 2013.  The Commission is now considering the suggestions put forward, alongside the issues that it had identified itself.  These included;
  • the scope of Authorised Guarantee Agreements under the Landlord & Tenant (Covenants) Act 1995;
  • simplifying the procedures to exclude the security of tenure provisions in part II of the Landlord and Tenant Act 1954; and
  • whether the Land Registration Act 2002 continues to meet it’s original objective.

The Commission will consider to what extent the law is unsatisfactory, the potential benefits of reform, the availability of resources and whether the Commission is the most appropriate body to conduct the project.  The Commission plans to submit it’s proposals to the Lord Chancellor in summer 2014.  If approved, the proposals will make up the main part of the Commissions law reform work for the following 3 years.

Rural and Agricultural Land

Common Agricultural Policy
On the 16th December 2013, the Council of EU Agriculture Ministers formally adopted the regulations for the reform of the Common Agriculture Policy from 2014 to 2020.  Implementation of the reforms was due to begin on the 1st January 2014, but the new direct payment system (which will be known as the basic payment scheme) will not now commence until the 1st January 2015.  2014 will be treated as a transitional year for direct payment.

Nitrate Vunerable Zones
In England, the boundaries of nitrate vulnerable zones (NVZ) were revised in May 2013 and October 2013.  Holdings that are newly within NVZ’s must comply with most measures from the 1st January 2014, subject to exceptions set out in Part 2 of Schedule A1 to the Nitrate Pollution Prevention Regulations 2008 in England.