As 2022 edges closer, we explore the key issues that are likely to dominate the property litigation agenda next year.
What happens when the various Covid related protections for tenants are removed in March?
The government has introduced a new code and legally binding Arbitration Procedure for landlords and tenants of commercial property to assist them in reaching a resolution where a tenant has accrued rent arrears relating to the period where a tenant was forced to close during the pandemic. A draft bill is currently making its way through Parliament.
This aims to assist businesses that have been affected by the pandemic but would otherwise be viable, by encouraging landlords and tenants to seek an agreement or to use the Arbitration Procedure if an agreement cannot be reached.
It will certainly be interesting to see how the bill progresses through Parliament and once agreed, how any resulting legislation works in practice.
The impact of construction supply chain delays on developments
Supply chain issues have dominated the news for the latter part of 2021, and the situation does not show much sign of improving as we move into 2022. The construction industry has been particularly impacted, with many building materials in short supply and those that are available, rapidly rising in price.
This presents a big issue for developers, specifically in terms of them being able to meet milestone dates to enable development finance to be released. Those who find themselves penalised or suffering a financial loss due to issues further up the supply chain will be looking for ways to be compensated for this.
Planned changes to the Electronic Communications Code
Many farmers and landowners have rented out their land to telecoms operators, allowing them to erect masts on it. Historically it could be a useful source of income. However, with the introduction of the Electronic Communications Code at the end of 2017, the proposition for landowners became significantly less attractive.
The Code grants operators increased rights to access the land to repair or upgrade equipment and add additional receivers without increased rent, and also to assess whether a site might be suitable for a future installation. It also makes it harder for landowners to end leases and remove the operator’s equipment from their property should they wish to take advantage of any redevelopment opportunities in the future.
New measures have been proposed which will allow operators to secure Code rights more quickly and cheaply through the courts if a landowner or occupier repeatedly does not respond to requests for these rights.