Blog – Severn Valley Business Group
 

Increased house prices in August 2020

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House prices rose by 2% in August 2020

Sky news has reported that house prices have reached a new record high after bouncing back from falls earlier this year with the biggest rise since 2004 last month, according to figures from Nationwide. Prices rose by 2% in August compared to the previous month or 3.7% compared to a year ago.

Commenting about the recovery of the housing market following the easing of the lockdown restrictions, David Williams, Director & Head of Property, says

”Whilst the initial rush of property transactions following the easing of restrictions was expected, there having been many active transactions put on hold, the continued surge in new property sales has been extraordinary. This has been fuelled by the temporary change to the stamp duty rates meaning a vast majority of purchasers are no longer subject tax. In addition, I believe the lockdown has made people reassess their living accommodation, looking to move to properties which afford them greater freedom outside with a more flexible arrangement inside for home working.

There seems no let up in the demand for properties and we are certainly very busy at Onions & Davies. If you are thinking of moving and need some advice or information on the costs associated with moving house then please don’t hesitate to contact me.”

Please contact our property team on 01630 652405 for a property quote or further details.

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I have a dispute regarding my children. What are my options?

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By Kim Mapperson, Solicitor in the Family Team

It can be a very stressful time when parties separate, separation can be particularly more stressful where children are involved. In an ideal situation parents would make decisions together as to what is best for their children however this is not always possible.

If parents cannot agree or find it difficult to communicate it is important that you receive legal advice to understand your options where your children are concerned.

Family mediation is a very useful tool in children disputes where both parties are willing to engage in the process. Mediation is facilitated by an independent third party to try and resolve disputes to ultimately agree arrangements for children.

Sometimes however receiving the assistance from the court is necessary. There are a number of Orders the Court have the power to make, these will depend on the specific circumstances of your matter. The court will make most decisions concerning children disputes in private law using the law contained within the Children Act 1989.

When making an application to the court you will then be referred to as the Applicant in the proceedings.  The other parent as the Respondent. The court makes decisions based on what is in the child’s best interests, and this is the court’s paramount concern throughout Therefore, the court will apply what is known as the ‘welfare checklist’ to help it make its decision.

What kind of Orders can the court make?

Child Arrangements Order

A child arrangements order is an order that decides the arrangements for whom a child(ren) is to live with, spend time with or otherwise have any contact with. This can include the parents of the child(ren) or any other person. In the past these orders were known as “residence” and “custody” Orders.

A child arrangements order can be made by consent if both parents agree to the arrangements for their child(ren) and the court also agree it is in the child(ren)’s best interest to make such an order.

Specific issue order

A specific issue order is an order that will determine a specific question that has arisen or may arise in connection with the exercise of parental responsibility for a child. This specific issue can include what school a child should attend, whether a child(ren) should change their name or whether a child should be taken out of the country for example.

Prohibited steps order

A prohibited steps order is an order which essentially will provide that no step shall be taken by a person concerning the parental responsibility of a child without the court’s consent or permission to do so. An example of this is that the Court can prohibit a person from removing a child from school or preventing them from taking the child away on holiday for a prolonged period of time.

It is possible to make this application on an emergency basis and an emergency application would be required to the court.

Should you require any assistance with a children dispute, Onions & Davies solicitors would be happy to assist you.  We have a conciliatory approach and understand the difficulties these circumstances can bring.

Call our family law team today on 01630 652405 for further information.

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Does the pronouncement of a Decree Absolute sever the financial ties between divorcing couples?

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By Kim Mapperson, Solicitor in the Family Team

In short the answer is “no!” and this misunderstanding can have costly implications.

The pronouncement of a decree absolute formally dissolves your marriage and either party is then free to remarry, but only a financial order can ultimately sever the financial ties. It is important to deal with financial matters promptly for a variety of reasons.

If finances are not resolved on divorce, then financial claims can remain open indefinitely leaving you at the mercy of your former spouse who may make a claim for financial remedy even after decree absolute. Where there is no financial agreement it is open to a former spouse (where they have not remarried or entered into a civil partnership) to make a claim a future claim.

The court usually looks at the assets “on the day”, which means that where in the future either party acquires money or property from any source including inheritance, or gifts a former spouse may look to make a claim against the same.

The court will look carefully and make an order based on fairness, if the parties are unable to reach an agreement.

It is important to note where a party unfortunately dies before the making of a financial order upon the pronouncement of Decree Absolute this may affect any benefits a spouse may have been entitled to under the deceased party’s pension. If you wish to make pension claims, this should always be pursued before decree absolute wherever possible.

It is, of course, encouraged that parties agree the division of their matrimonial assets upon separation and this can be done amicably between the parties.  It is vitally important however that this agreement is reflected in a financial order whether ordered by the court or dealt with voluntarily incorporated into a Consent Order.

It is a straightforward process to incorporate the terms of an agreement between separating parties into a clean break order to the mutual benefit of both parties.

We can, at Onions & Davies, advise you thoroughly as to the effect of Decree Absolute and Financial Orders in your own circumstances and please do not hesitate to contact our family team for more information on 01630 411226.

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HM Land Registry begins accepting e-signatures

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By the Property Team

Land Registry have started accepting digital signatures on conveyancing documents, however, witnesses also need to be present.

Simon Hayes, chief executive and chief land registrar at the HM Land Registry, has said:

“What we have done today is remove the last strict requirement to print and sign a paper document in a home buying or other property transaction.

“This should help right now while lots of us are working at home, but it is also a keystone of a truly digital, secure and more efficient conveyancing process that we believe is well within reach.

“The more sophisticated qualified electronic signatures are a part of that vision and encouraging those is where our attention will be directed next.”

At Onions & Davies we have used a digital case management system for a number of years, which has come into its own since we have been remote working, and we continue to move with the times to streamline our service to clients. Our Head of Property, David Williams, welcomes the news from HM Land Registry.

For a quote for residential sale, purchase or transfer, please contact David Williams at david@onionsanddavies.co.uk or 01630 411222.

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Stamp Duty Land Tax Holiday

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By David Williams, Director & Head of Property

In an attempt to boost the housing market following the lockdown, the government has raised the stamp duty (SDLT) threshold in England and Wales to £500,000.00 until March 31st 2021. This will result in significant savings for home buyers both above and below the £500.000.00 threshold.

The tiered system applied to stamp duty means buyers purchasing up to £500,000.00 will pay no stamp duty and those purchasing at a higher price will only pay at the normal rates on the value above £500.000.00. The new rates will be: –

  • £0-£500,000 = 0%
  • £500,001-£925,000 = 5%
  • £925,001-£1.5m = 10%
  • Above £1.5m = 12%

The government predicts that the average stamp duty bill will fall by £4,500, but for properties priced at £500,000 the saving could be £15,000.

If you are buying a second home or buy to let property the 3% stamp duty surcharge will still apply. However, the surcharge will be against the new rates resulting in savings for properties over £125,000.00. Before the change, if you bought an investment property for £250,000, you would have paid 3% on the first £125,000 and 5% on the second £125,000, resulting in a stamp duty bill of £10,000. From today, you’ll only pay 3% stamp duty on the whole purchase price, meaning a bill of £7,500 and a saving of £2,500.

The rates for second properties and buy to let are below.

  • £0-£500,000 = 3%
  • £500,001-£925,000 = 8%
  • Percentage £925,001-£1.5m = 13%
  • Above £1.5m = 15%

With the new rates for duty, and the extremely low interest rates being offered by lenders, it would seem there has seldom been a better time to purchase.

If you intend to make a move in the property market please contact David Williams in our Property Department on 01630 411222.

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