Potential Council Tax increase for extended or altered property

Did you know that Regional Assessors monitor the Building Control Register? The reason they do this is to check what alterations are being carried out to property and which require a Building Warrant. Once they identify properties that fall into that category, they’ll then consider whether the alterations carried out give rise to an increase in the value of the property.

If you’re the owner who carries out this work, you’ll be naturally delighted if you knew the Regional Assessor considered your extension or improvement works caused the value of your property to increase. After all, that was your expectation too, wasn’t it?

However, one of the repercussions of this arrangement is that when you come to sell your house, the new owner might be faced with a higher Council Tax Band than the Band you are currently in.

This isn’t some “big brother” spying tactic by the Regional Assessors. They have the responsibility to set and manage Council Tax banding on behalf of Scotland’s local authorities. This includes a statutory duty to maintain The Council Tax Valuation List.

The power to conduct these reassessments is contained in The Council Tax (Alteration of Lists and Appeals) (Scotland) Regulations 1993. 1993. Regulation, 4(1)(a)(i) states: “no alteration of a band shall be made unless there has been a material increase in the value of the dwelling and it has subsequently been sold”.

So, if you’ve carried out alterations to your property, don’t worry, as this won’t affect you. However, you might get caught out with an increase in Council Tax if you buy a property that’s been improved, altered or extended.

Disinheriting your children in Scotland

In Scotland, there’s been a long-held legal principle that you can’t disinherit your children. What this means in very simple terms is that whether or not you’ve made a Will, your children have Legal Rights to your estate. Legal Rights in Scotland are an automatic entitlement are enjoyed by the surviving spouse, civil partner and any children. The term “children” includes any adopted and illegitimate children. This usually comes as a surprise to those making a Will!

Children don’t have to take any action or to apply to the courts to have Legal Rights bestowed on them. Legal Rights are automatic and they involve a share in the moveable estate of their parent (cash, shares, cars, jewellery etc.) but not in any heritable (land and buildings) estate.

Setting down what Legal Rights are and who is entitled to what is quite a complicated affair and we need to look at the position for those who make a Will and those who don’t. You also need to be aware that any spouse or civil partner has Legal Rights too, so we have to consider these when looking at the Legal Rights of children

 Where there’s a Will

Let’s look, first of all, at the position when someone with children makes a Will.

When you’re making your Will, you should always remember that:

  • if you have no children –

your spouse or civil partner is entitled to one half of your moveable estate, or,

  • if you have children but your spouse or civil partner has predeceased you –

your children are entitled to one half of your moveable estate, or

  • if you do have children and also leave a spouse or civil partner –

your spouse or civil partner is entitled to one third of your moveable estate and your child or children is or are entitled to one third of your moveable estate.

Remember that this relates to the automatic rights to your moveable estateand not your heritable estate.

It is very important to note that when one of the above categories of beneficiary makes a claim for Legal Rights, they forego any provision made for them in the Will – they cannot seek to have both benefits.

 Where there is no Will

This does become quite complicated. The reason for this is that when someone dies intestate – that means without a Will – that person’s spouse or civil partner is entitled to something called Prior Rights. As the name suggests, Prior Rights take precedence over Legal Rights. Prior Rights mean the surviving spouse or civil partner receives:

  • the family home up to a certain value (currently £473,000)
  • the furniture in that home up to a certain value (currently £29,000), and
  • a cash sum of money, again, up to a certain value (currently £50,000 if there are children, £89,000 of there are no children).

If the value of the estate is within the current limits for Prior Rights, then the entire estate will be exhausted by these and there will be nothing left for Legal Rights.

After the Prior Rights have been satisfied, if there is any moveable estate left, the following Legal Rights will apply:

  • The spouse or civil partner is entitled to receive one third of the remaining estate,
  • Any child is or children are entitled to receive one third of the remaining estate divided equally amongst them

That still leaves the remainder of the estate to be paid over to someone and, in this example, where there is a surviving spouse or civil partner, the child or children are entitled to receive the remainder of the estate – and it doesn’t matter if it’s made up of heritable or moveable property!

If any child has died before their parent and that child had children, those children are entitled to their parent’s share in their grandparent’s estate equally between or amongst them.

Finally, If there is no spouse or civil partner, the entire estate goes to any child or if there’s more than one child, equally amongst the children.

Want to find out more?

We hope this article has given you some understanding about the complex nature of this area of law. Solicitors need to take Prior and Legal Rights into account when advising clients on preparing their Wills or in winding up an Estate in an Executry Case. This is only a very brief overview of the law as it currently stands. For specific guidance on your own situation, please get in touch using the details at the bottom of this page.

Spanish Property Seminar – Wed 14 August

Have you ever dreamed of a Spanish Holiday Home by the sea?  Or a retirement villa in the Spanish mountains? 

Wallace Quinn have been helping people purchase property in Spain for over 20 years.

Our latest Spanish property show will be a short seminar presentation from Alastair Shields, a lifetime mortgage planner specialising in helping those over 55 years old fund their Spanish property retirement dream.

Also on hand to advise you on every aspect of Spanish property will be:

Margaret McMillan – Spanish Property Manager

Alastair Shields – Lifetime Mortgage Planner

Neil Spinney – Spanish property sourcing expert

Where:  ESPC, 107 George Street, Edinburgh, EH2 3ES

When:  Wednesday 14th August, 1730-1930hrs

Booking is advisable via margaret@wallacequinn.co.uk 

Or you can contact the Spanish Property Desk at our Livingston office for free advice at any time on 01506 353400.

wish you were here?

Meet the Team – Director Mark McBride

In our latest ‘meet the team’ series, we caught up with Wallace Quinn Director Mark McBride for a chat.  Mark started as a trainee solicitor at Wallace Quinn nearly fifteen years ago, becoming a Director last year.  Away from the office, Mark became a dad last year, with young Connal keeping him on his toes!

Did you always want to be a lawyer?

No, I wanted to be a professional golfer, but couldn’t get my handicap below four, so decided to try something else.  When I was at school I was much better at Maths than English, but the jobs that maths skills were best suited to didn’t appeal to me.  With the amount of legal dramas on television, the law was always at the back of my mind, but I thought I would end up as a court lawyer. All these years after leaving university and I’ve not been in a courtroom yet and I’m not sure Netflix will ever commission a drama about conveyancing solicitors.  It was golf though that introduced me to Wallace Quinn. A friend that both John Quinn and I know through golf circles knew I was looking for a traineeship and introduced us both on a train from Croy to Glasgow and here I am fifteen years later.

What do you enjoy most about being a lawyer?

I really enjoy dealing with clients.  Buying a new house is both stressful and exciting and I suppose it also gets my adrenaline going when I’m involved.  It’s great to see people really happy when they get the keys and I get lots of satisfaction knowing I’ve helped.

What is your philosophy when dealing with clients?

Good and regular communication is key. Always try to keep the client updated as often as possible and try to get in touch with them before they feel the need to get in touch with you.  Keep the legal jargon to a minimum and use plain English as often as possible.  Embrace new technology when it helps but remember good old fashioned face to face communication still has an important role to play.

What’s the biggest challenge in your job?

In conveyancing, you are dealing with people who are going through quite a big life event and it is quite stressful, so we need to make sure things are organised and they are kept updated.  Managing expectations is important.  Buying a new house is exciting and understandably everybody wants to move in ASAP. They don’t really care about mineral reports and the not-very-exciting but really important elements of conveyancing. Conveyancing also has lots of time sensitive points in the process, so for example if somebody is moving house on a particular day then they’ll have booked a removal van and arranged to hand back the keys, so any last minute issues literally have to be resolved at the last minute because the removal van isn’t going to wait.  I’m tempting fate when I say this, but there isn’t much we’ve not seen before, so our preparation, procedures and experience ensure 99.99% of cases are completed without a hitch.

What do you do to switch off?

I don’t like sitting around, so I try to do something that keeps my mind ticking over without having to think about work.  I like going to the gym and I enjoy swimming.    At least that’s what I would have told you if you’d asked me a year ago, because now I’ve got a one year old toddler at home who takes up most of my time away from the office and I couldn’t be happier. Connal also gets me up early in the morning, so I come into work early, which in turn helps keep my day organised so I can get home at a decent time and enjoy family time before bed.

Mark getting ready for a Pool tournament with his WQ branded shirt!

We’ve heard you’re quite good at Pool?

It something I’ve always played since I was a kid.  We had a small pool table in the loft when I was growing up and I have great memories of playing with my dad and my brother and it is always something I have an interest in.  I play whenever I can and I like to take part in competitions rather than just knock balls around at the pub.

What does the future hold for you and Wallace Quinn?

Last year we opened a new office in Livingston and the business is growing, which is great.  Conveyancing is moving more and more towards a digital delivery model, but I think that there will always be a emphasis on great service, fast turnaround times, face to face contact and professional expertise, all of which we are already good at here at Wallace Quinn.  The human touch isn’t going anywhere in conveyancing and I’m happy about that.

Wallace Quinn employee Karter Kane off on an Africa volunteering adventure

Wallace Quinn employee Karter Kane has left us to undertake an exciting volunteering opportunity in Malawi.  Twenty one year old Karter and her boyfriend are off to volunteer at a school on the shores of Lake Malawi for eight weeks before beginning an African and Asian backpacking adventure.

Karter says,

“I’ve loved my time here at Wallace Quinn since finishing my law degree but I’m only twenty-one and still a bit restless to see some of the world before considering training to become a solicitor.   I’ve always been drawn to volunteering and found an organisation called ‘Naturally Africa Volunteers’ who are looking for people to help in schools.  Malawi is a stable country that has a lot of poverty and needs a lot of help.  It’s not uncommon for teachers to have classes with up to 150 pupils, so they rely on volunteers to help deliver a better quality of education.  I’m currently doing an online teaching course to help me teach English as a foreign language, but I’ll also helpfully be helping out with some maths and sciences and some history as well.”

Karter also hopes to help teach the kids a hobby she particularly enjoys herself.  Karter says,

“The two main sports in Malawi seem to be football and netball.  I’ve played netball for years and have even done some coaching in the sport here in Scotland, so I’m hoping I’ll be able to either help with an after school netball club or start one at the school I’ll be volunteering with.   There are also popular ‘library clubs’ after school that try and instil a lifelong love of reading and I’ll definitely be up for helping with that”.

“I’ve been in touch with the charity coordinators to see what books I can take with me and I’ll also take some netball equipment.  Basically, whatever we can fit in an extra suitcase for the flight over.  We’ll also take some stationary because even basic things like pencils and notebooks are in short supply’.

After Karter’s two months in Malawi, she’s off to tour South Africa before continuing her backpacking adventure in Hong Kong and then seeing wherever the wanderlust takes her.  The rest of us at Wallace Quinn are more than a little jealous of what sounds like an exciting and worthwhile adventure.

Good luck Karter – we can’t wait to see the pictures when you get back.

Kilimanjaro climb raises £8525 for St Andrew’s Hospice

Wallace Quinn Managing Director John Quinn visited St Andrew’s Hospice in Airdrie this week to present a cheque following his recent fundraising trip to Africa.  In March John was part of a team that climbed Africa’s highest peak, Mount Kilimanjaro in Tanzania.

John set himself a target of £8000, but smashed through this, raising a total of £8525.  The money raised will go towards the hospice’s Capital Appeal, and ambitious £9 million pound fundraising drive to help the hospice deliver modern hospice care for the next thirty years.

John met with hospice fundraiser Bobby Mason to hand over the cheque.

John Quinn presents cheque to St Andrew's Hospice Fundraiser Bobby Mason
John Quinn presents cheque to St Andrew’s Hospice Fundraiser Bobby Mason

Bobby said,

“St Andrew Hospice needs to raise nearly £4.6 million each year to provide care and support for patients, families and carers across Lanarkshire and we couldn’t do it without the remarkable work of each and every one of our fundraisers.  Wallace Quinn’s support for the hospice is longstanding and greatly appreciated, with John’s latest donation simply superb.” 

John says,

“I was blown away by the generosity of family, friends and colleagues who sponsored me on a personal challenge to both climb Kilimanjaro and raise a significant sum for St Andrew’s Hospice.   Wallace Quinn has been supporting St Andrew’s Hospice with fundraising activities since we first opened for business and it an association I know will continue for many years.   The Hospice does a remarkable job of helping individuals and families when they need help the most and it is a real privilege for us to be able to assist in any way we can.”

St Andrew’s Hospice opened in 1986 to provide palliative care and support for patients, families and carers. Although it receives funding from NHS Lanarkshire, the hospice requires to raise significant funds every year. The £9 million capital appeal reflects the considerable changes to equipment and facilities needed to deliver modern hospice care since St Andrew’s first opened.

Wallace Quinn’s next fundraising event for St Andrew’s Hospice will be the firm’s annual Golf Day at Dullatur Golf Club on Thursday 26 September.

Wallace Quinn announce shirt sponsorship with 2018 International Pool Association Premier League champion Mark Boyle.

Mark Boyle lines up a shot

Wallace Quinn are delighted to support Scottish pool champion Mark Boyle in 2019 as a sponsor. Mark is the 2018 International Pool Association (IPA) Scottish Champion, having also won the IPA Premier League, British Open Championship and English Open Championship.

Wallace Quinn will have their logo on the front of Mark’s professional shirts, and the company web address on his back.

Wallace Quinn Director Mark McBride, himself an amateur pool player, says,

“Mark is an excellent ambassador for Scotland and for pool and I’m delighted that the Wallace Quinn brand will be associated with him this season.  Mark is at the height of his game and helping bring a renewed focus on Pool. The sport is taking advantage of new technologies, with matches now live streaming on the IPA website and featuring more on channels such as Sky Sports.   Our association with Mark will allow us to reach more customers who may be thinking of buying a new home, starting a business or a multitude of different things that Wallace Quinn can help with.”

Mark McBride and Mark Boyle with the IPA Premier League Trophy

Mark says the sport is definitely enjoying a resurgence of popularity and reaching new audiences. He says,

“Over the last couple of years or so, Pool has definitely got much bigger, both in terms of the number of tournaments and the amount of prize money on offer.  There’s also much more of the game being televised on BBC and SKY and the sport is reaching a new audience.  It helps that the game is reasonably quick, so frames can be over in a couple of minutes, meaning you don’t have to invest as much time as you would watching a game of snooker.  It’s also a very accessible sport to play yourself – anybody can pick up a cue in the pub and pot a few balls and develop a love of playing the game.  The trick as a professional is keeping your skill level really high and really consistent.  It really is a golden time for pool at the moment and who knows, it could end up as big a draw as darts on the TV in the years ahead.”

Mark’s priorities for 2019 are to defend his IPA Premier League title and break into the top sixteen in the IPA rankings (he’s currently 22).  Everybody here at Wallace Quinn wish him luck and we’re looking forward to following his progress and spotting our logo in tournaments in the months ahead!

Spanish Property Show 1 and 2 June

Have you ever dreamed of a Spanish Holiday Home by the sea?  Or a retirement villa in the Spanish mountains? 

Wallace Quinn have been helping people purchase property in Spain for over 20 years.

Come and meet our Spanish Property team at a FREE drop in event in Edinburgh on Saturday 1st and Sunday 2nd June 2019.

On hand to advise you on every aspect of Spanish property will be:

Margaret McMillan – Spanish Property Manager

Ignacio Chanza – Solicitor, qualified in both Scotland and Spain (and the honorary Spanish Consul for the North of Scotland)

Neil Spinney – Spanish property sourcing expert

Where:  ESPC, 107 George Street, Edinburgh, EH2 3ES

When:  Saturday 1st June – 10am-4pm / Sunday 2nd June 11am-3pm

You can drop in at any time, or book an appointment via margaret@wallacequinn.co.uk or by calling 01506 353400.  Or you can contact the Spanish Property Desk at our Livingston office for free advice at any time.

wish you were here?

John Quinn reaches top of Kilimanjaro

Wallace Quinn Managing Director John Quinn has succeeded in his quest to tackle Africa’s highest mountain.  John reached the summit of Mount Kilimanjaro on 28th  March, raising money for St Andrew’s Hospice in Airdrie through sponsorship.

John’s trek to the summit started in the rainforest on the lower slopes before emerging through the clouds to a much more barren landscape.  John was part of a team that took six days to conquer the mountain, mostly trekking but occasionally  scrambling on all fours up steep rocky slopes.

John says,

“It was an absolute privilege attempt to climb Kilimanjaro, but it is a brutal endeavour.  We were trekking for up to fourteen hours a day, climbing higher at the same time as oxygen levels were falling, meaning exhaustion and nausea were constant climbing companions.   On the morning of our final ascent, we were up at midnight and set out in darkness to climb the last steep slope to the top.  It was all worth it when the sun came up and we could see the summit ahead of us.”

The summit of Kilimanjaro is 5895m above sea level, with oxygen levels at the top nearly half of what they are at the base.

In 2019, we’re delighted that John pulled out all the stops and made it to the top!

John says,

“In 2014 I came close to reaching the top but had to turn back as I was defeated by the effects of altitude.  I put in much more fitness training ahead of this attempt and it paid off, but any sense of triumph on the summit was competing with overwhelming tiredness and I don’t think I appreciated what I had personally achieved until a few days later.” 

John continued,

“I’d like to thank all of my friends, family, colleagues and associates who have helped raise a fantastic amount for St Andrew’s Hospice.  The hospice provides palliative care and support for patients, families and carers.  Although it receives funding from NHS Lanarkshire, the hospice requires to raise at least £4.6 million from public donations every year.  Wallace Quinn has been a corporate sponsor of the hospice since we opened in 1990 and I’ll continue to look for new ways to help support this incredibly important charity.”

Does that mean a trip back to Kilimanjaro at some point in the future for John?

John says,

“Absolutely no chance.  In physical terms that was one of the most difficult things I’ve ever done in my life.   I’m delighted to have made it to the top but two visits to Kilimanjaro in one lifetime is enough for anybody!”

If you would like to donate to John’s ‘Just Giving” page for St Andrew’s Hospice, click on this link.

Beware! Dilapidations, the hidden expense in a commercial lease

This article was first published in our March 2019 newsletter

Those familiar with commercial leasing will be aware of dilapidations. These are items which require repair, usually, on termination of the lease. The normal practice is for the landlord to carry out and inspection and provide a list of these items. If the repairs are not carried out, the landlord will then seek a monetary equivalent to cover the cost of repairs.

The normal type of commercial lease in Scotland is a full repairing and insuring lease. In leases of this type, the tenant is responsible for maintaining the premises “in good order and repair” or “in good and tenantable condition”- and at the end of the lease, the premises need to be in that condition, failing which, the landlords can all on the tenant to make good the condition using a Schedule of Dilapidations.

The landlord’s view is that there is a need to ensure that the property is maintained properly. The landlord should warn the tenant of any neglect it becomes aware of.  If that is done, it reduces the risk to the asset value of the property before a problem becomes more widespread. Although this isn’t a widespread practice in Scotland, issues such as this could best be dealt with through the service of an interim schedule of dilapidations. By doing this, the landlord can focus the attention of the tenant on problems that have been discovered.

A final schedule of dilapidations will identify items of disrepair to be made good by the tenant when the lease comes to an end.  Where the tenant fails to comply with the repairing obligations set out in the lease, the schedule of dilapidations will often form the basis of a financial claim by the landlord.

From the tenant’s perspective, accepting the property in good repair implies that it must be returned to the landlord in such a condition on termination of the lease. Accepting a property in tenantable condition is not quite as straight forward. Age, character and locality issues could be considered to rebut any schedule of dilapidations in such a case.

When a schedule of dilapidations is served, the validity of the landlord’s claim should be investigated. It is essential that reference is be made to the specific repairing obligations contained in the lease. When a claim is submitted in good time before the end of the lease, it usually benefits tenants to have any legitimate repair works carried out less expensively themselves rather than leave these for the landlord to complete.

The starting point in resolving any dispute will be the scope of the repairing obligation and resolving this issue requires careful analysis of the wording of the repairing obligation, and its outcome can have significant implications for the respective liabilities of the parties.

If you are considering entering into a commercial lease of premises, it makes very good sense to obtain expert dilapidations advice at the outset. Waiting until the approach of the end of the lease is never a cost-effective option.

Landlords and Tenants of property must appreciate the nuances in dilapidations law and how these affect liability.

If you would like to discuss a liability issue you have regarding dilapidations or otherwise wish to discuss the terms of a commercial lease, please get in touch using the details at the foot of the page.

 

 

 

 

 

 

In terms of Scottish common law, the tenant has different obligations to repair a property under lease. These obligations are largely limited to liability for fair wear and tear, and repairs needed due to their negligence. However, specific lease clauses addressing repairing obligations usually cause the obligations in common law to transfer from the landlord to the tenant. This is the first stumbling block for the uninitiated. Tenants taking on a new lease in Scotland are likely to be faced with a clause stating that they “accept the property in good order and repair” or they “accept the property in a tenantable condition”. This wording causes the transfer of the liability for certain common law obligations from the landlord to the tenant in different ways.

It is very important to understand what the repairing clauses in the lease mean. Even leases where there is a relatively short term can have serious repairing implications. Tenants who enter into what they thought were reasonable repairing obligations can quickly learn that this is not the case. It is very important that due diligence is carried out before entering into a lease of the property. It makes sense to engage the services of a chartered building surveyor to visit the premises and report on its condition or repair. If tenants do not do this and it transpires that the building has significant structural problems that could, for instance, only be resolved by the rebuilding of a significant portion of an external elevation then the tenants will become responsible for the cost of those repairs having taken on the repairing obligations in the lease. This can mean that the value of the dilapidations claim is many times more than the annual rental for the premises and that would represent a significant unforeseen and unbudgeted expense for the outgoing tenant. If a proper review of the condition of the building has been carried out before entering into the lease, then this will help tenants to avoid such expense.

“Interim” and “Terminal” dilapidations terminology is used in Scotland although the courts do not recognise a difference between the two types of schedule. In England and Wales it is not unusual for a landlord to serve an interim schedule on a tenant at, say, the mid-term point of the lease as a reminder to the tenant to undertake repairs where they are in breach of their lease obligations. However, in England and Wales, there are limits to what can be included in this – not so in Scotland.

During the recent recession, there was a significant increase in the number of schedules of dilapidations being served during the term of a lease in an effort by landlords to avoid being left with an empty property in poor condition in the event that the tenant became insolvent. As a result, as landlords seek to enforce the repairing obligations in the lease and tenants seek to minimise their liabilities, more disputes have arisen.

The starting point in resolving any dispute will be the scope of the repairing obligation – in particular whether the common law position has been supplanted by the repairing clauses in the lease. A key issue in some major dilapidations disputes, argued before the Scottish courts, is whether the landlord’s common law liability for extraordinary repairs has been transferred to the tenant. Resolving this issue can require careful analysis of the wording of the repairing obligation, and its outcome can have significant implications for the respective liabilities of the parties.

If you are considering entering into a commercial lease of premises, it makes very good sense to obtain expert dilapidations advice from the outset. Waiting until the approach of the end of the lease is never a cost-effective option.

Landlords and Tenants of property must appreciate the nuances in dilapidations law and how these affect liability.

If you would like to discuss a liability issue you have regarding dilapidations or otherwise wish to discuss the terms of a commercial lease, please get in touch using the details at the bottom of the page.