Latest Real Estate Legislation Update

Energy Efficiency (Building Renovation and Reporting) Regulations 2014

These Regulations place an obligation on the Secretary of State, after consultation with the Scottish Ministers, the Welsh Ministers and the Northern Ireland departments, to:

  • Establish a long-term strategy for stimulating investment in the renovation of residential and commercial buildings in the United Kingdom and to publish and submit this strategy to the European Commission by 30th April 2014. The strategy must be updated and submitted to the Commission by 30th April in every third year thereafter;
  • Submit written annual reports, by 30th April each year, to the European Commission on the UK’s progress towards meeting its national energy efficiency targets, with statistics on co-generation, and district heating and cooling;
  • Submit to the European Commission by 30th April 2014 a National Energy Efficiency Action Plan (“NEEAP”). The plan must be updated and submitted to the Commission by 30th April in every third year thereafter.

The Regulations came into force on 30th April 2014.

The Regulations can be read here:  

Defective and Dangerous Buildings (Recovery of Expenses) (Scotland) Bill

This is a Member’s bill which amends the Building (Scotland) Act 2003 to provide the framework for local authorities to make charging orders for recovery of expenses incurred where local authorities have carried out work to defective or dangerous buildings under the 2003 Act.

Background

The 2003 Act grants local authorities powers to repair dangerous buildings (Sections 29 and 30) and defective buildings (Section 28). The 2003 Act updated the operation of the Scottish building standards system, including the powers available to local authorities for dealing with dangerous and defective buildings. The changes made to these powers were relatively minor, however the power to use charging orders to recover costs incurred in carrying out works to dangerous and defective buildings was repealed and not replaced.

What is a Charging Order?

A charging order is a method of debt recovery available to local authorities under certain statutes. Generally, where a local authority has incurred expenses in undertaking certain works to a building and the debt cannot be recovered by other means, it may make a charging order. A charging order applies to land and buildings and not to a particular owner and must be recorded in the register of sasines or in the Land Register of Scotland. A charging order has priority over most other debts attached to a property.

Any owner or other person having an interest in land that is the subject of a charging order can make full payment of the debt by paying an amount to the authority as may be agreed upon, or, in default of agreement, determined by the Scottish Ministers.

What does the Bill propose?

Section 1 amends the 2003 Act to allow a local authority to make a charging order in respect of certain expenses incurred in undertaking work to a dangerous or defective building. It provides definitions of the key terms “qualifying expenses” and “repayable amount”, sets out the core terms of a charging order and how these are to be repaid and discharged. It sets out how a local authority should register, and discharge, a charging order and inserts a new Schedule into the 2003 Act, which establishes what a charging order and discharge should contain.

The Bill can be read here.

Town and Country Planning (Tree Preservation Order and Trees in Conservation Areas) (Scotland) Amendment Regulations 2014

These Regulations form part of a package of Regulations required to implement the High Hedges (Scotland) Act 2013 and to change existing legislation to enable the Act to function correctly.

Background

The High Hedges Act provides a means of resolving disputes over the effects of a high hedge where the issue cannot be resolved amicably between neighbours. It gives home owners and occupiers a right to apply to a local authority where it is considered that a high hedge is affecting the enjoyment of their property, and empowers local authorities to issue a high hedge notice where it finds that a hedge is having an adverse effect.

The Town and Country Planning (Scotland) Act 1997 gives planning authorities a power to make tree preservation orders (TPO) to prohibit the cutting down, topping, lopping, uprooting, wilful damage or wilful destruction of a tree without the consent of the authority. Section 172 of the 1997 Act applies this prohibition to all trees in conservation areas, even if they are not protected by a TPO. Section 173 enables Ministers to make Regulations to disapply Section 172.

The 2014 Regulations remove the protection afforded by Section 172 where works are required by a notice issued under the High Hedges Act or are authorised by section 22(1) of that Act. If a tree that forms part of a high hedge is in a conservation area, or covered by a TPO, then action in a high hedge notice can be carried out without being subject to a separate consenting regime.

The Regulations commenced on 1st April 2014.

The Regulations can be read here.