March 13, 2013

Property law – what to expect in 2013

As the Government continue to look for ways to stimulate the economy and promote growth the planning system remains a focal point for 2013.  A variety of house building and house buying initiatives were announced in 2012 and we shall see if these bear fruit in 2013. 

Major events and trends to look out for in 2013 are:-

Common Land  Town and Village Greens

The Growth and Infrastructure Bill is expected to become law in 2013 and will introduce measures to prevent development being sterilised or frustrated by an application to register land as a town or village green.  The designation of land for development in a neighbourhood or local plan, or the making of a planning application, will both be trigger events which exclude the land from the town and village green application process.

Gas Safety

From the 1 January 2013 the technical requirements of the Gas Safe Register in relation to concealed boiler flues will change.  If an engineer cannot view a concealed boiler flue along its entire length the engineer will class the flue as “at risk” for the safety of the occupants.  The engineer will turn the boiler off and recommend that it is not used again until inspection hatches are fitted.  This may have significant implications for landlords in the residential sector. 

A tenant who is advised to turn a boiler off after 1st January 2013 might argue that its landlord is in breach of its repairing covenant or refuse to pay rent.  It follows that landlords may need to act promptly both as a matter of good practice and to avoid future conflict.

Building Regulations 2010

In January last year the Government published a consultation package on amendments to the Building Regulations in England.  The proposed amendments include tighter carbon dioxide emission standards for new homes and on domestic buildings to help the Government achieve its targets for zero carbon buildings.  A review is currently being undertaken and a report will be put before Government by April 2013. 

Rights to Light

The Law Commission is currently examining specific issues arising in relation to rights to light.  They are looking at whether the law by which rights to light are acquired and enforced provides an appropriate balance between the interest of landowners and the need to facilitate appropriate development.  It is examining the relationship with the planning system and whether the remedies available to the courts are reasonable, sufficient and proportionate.  Consultation opened on 18th February and will run until 16th May.

Energy Efficiency

The Government’s flagship initiative for improving the energy efficiency of buildings came into effect in January 2013. 


The Association of British Insurers (ABI) Statement of Principles which governs the basis upon which flood risk insurance is available expires in June 2013.  The ABI has confirmed that the Statement will not be extended.  Therefore unless an alternative agreement is reached between the ABI and the Government there will be a move to an open market in which the insurers can choose whether to offer cover and at what cost. 

Rent Deposit Deeds

The registration of security created by companies and llps is expected to be revised on the 6 April 2013.  The effect of the revision means that most charges over rent deposits granted after the commencement date will no longer be registerable security and cannot be registered at Companies House.


The Commission is currently reviewing the Electronic Communications Code as part of the Government’s wider review of the communications legislative regime.  The fundamental aim of the project is to assess the balance struck by the codes between the rights of electronic communications operators and landowners.  The report and recommendations are expected in Spring 2013. 

Business Rates

Subject to consultation all newly built commercial property completed between 1st October 2013 and 30th September 2016 will be exempt from empty property rates for the first 18 months following completion of construction.

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