New Build Homes, What Are Your Thoughts?

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There are generally two camps for new builds – those who absolutely love the idea of purchasing a new build and those who are terrified of the prospect of purchasing a new build property. You could call new builds the Marmite of the housing market.

 

New Build Conveyancing

 

Are you in the pro-new build camp and are tempted to buy a new build home? Is the lure of help to buy too good to pass-up? Maybe the stress free part-exchange route to deal with your existing property is the appeal, or could it be you are excited to have a say in the specification?

 

Or are you a new build hater? Have you heard horror stories of problems that arise with buying a new build home? Maybe you have seen news articles about delayed completions or don’t understand when buildings regulations sign-off is. Perhaps for you the pressure of a quick exchange is simply too overwhelming.

 

It doesn’t have to be this way…

 

Barnes and partners have a designated department to deal with your new build purchase and part-exchange sale or sale on the open market. Our new build department is equipped and ready to work quickly to achieve the timescales afforded by developers.

 

Want to ensure you are prepared and know what to expect for a new build transaction? Here is our checklist for a smooth running new build purchase:

 

-Firstly communication, your solicitor must keep in regular contact with the developer and advise them of the current position. When it comes to a potential delay this is something that would be preempted with regular updates.

 

-In relation to completion and potential delays that come with the nature of buying off-plan, this is something we advise on from the outset. It is so important to check with the broker about the extendibility of the mortgage offer, have a Plan B in the event there are delays and ensure you are always prepared.

 

-As a foundational rule of conveyancing we of course advise our clients properly on the purchase contract they are entering into, but we also make sure your new build contract has a long stop date so there is a get-out in the event that the delays become unwarranted – this affords protection during a difficult time.

 

-You must look for advice on the warranty that you will be receiving on completion. We offer this and even guide you to the specific providers’ website where you can learn all about the cover and its benefits.

 

Purchasing a new build can be a great opportunity for those looking to purchase for the first time through a help to buy scheme or an individual wanting to have a say in their homes’ final finishes. There are many appeals of purchasing a new build and the purpose of this blog is to make it known that with a good solicitor you can ensure the whole process is smooth. What’s more, a solicitor with an understanding and personal approach can make the journey a whole lot more enjoyable.

 

We hope Barnes and Partners will be your choice when coming to appoint a solicitor for your new build purchase.

 

Call us on 0208 370 2800 and ask for Kimberley Osborne for more information.

Kim Osborne, New Build Conveyancing Solicitor

Staff Spotlight Enfield Office Elaine Linton

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Every month we shine a spotlight on a member of our Barnes and Partners team to share with you a day in the life of our professionals and to publicly recognise their excellence. Each member of our team is unique but all embody the values we hold dear. Legal aptitude and knowledge are skills that are imperative as is a mature and professional attitude but we also place a high importance on our staff being proactive and “people people” – people that care about helping others and our communities. Often our people feel law was a calling and a vocation rather than simply a job.

 

Barnes and Partners

 

This month we shine the spotlight on Elaine Linton from our Enfield Barnes and Partners Solicitors head office. She is the first port of call for all our clients on the phone and who come in and visit our Enfield office.

Elaine is an extremely popular member of staff as she is so warm and welcoming to all who meet her and work with her. Her colleagues describe her as “kind and friendly” and say she is “so helpful and professional even when faced with challenging situations.”

Elaine is very modest but has agreed to share a little about herself for you to have a snapshot into the life of our wonderful reception staff. Here is Elaine’s story in her own words:

My name is Elaine Linton. I am married with three boys ages 31, 15 and 12 years old. I enjoy athletics, travelling and reading as well as meeting and speaking to people both on the telephone and in person.

I previously worked for Department of Work and Pension for 18 years where I worked my way up from an Administrative Assistant to an Executive Officer. I also worked for a Charity called Detention Advice Service for a further 8 years as an Administrator.

I’ve started working at Barnes and Partners in May 2015 as a receptionist at the Enfield branch. I was made to feel welcome by members of staff and management alike. On a daily basis I speak with clients from all different walks of life, staff members from other branches as well as senior partners. Clients are made to feel welcome and spoken to with respect whatever their ages, race or nationality. I am polite and well mannered by nature and I hope this comes across in everything that I do.

I would like to take this opportunity to say thank you to everyone who took the time to nominate me in the Staff Spotlight.

Barnes and Partners Desk

 

Thank you to Elaine for sharing this with us and to our readers until next time, thanks for reading.

Dress Codes at Work

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You have probably seen there has been a lot in the news recently about dress codes at work.

High Heels - Dress Code

An employee who had been sent home for refusing to wear heels at work launched an e-petition calling for it to be made illegal for an employer to make women wear high heels. This attracted more than 150,000 signatures and a debate in parliament. More recently, two cases were taken to the court by women who were fired for refusing to remove their religious headscarves.

So, by law, what can and can’t an employer tell staff to wear?

 

  • Whilst a dress code could be implied into the employment contract of a particular job, if an employer has certain requirements or expectations about what their employees are to wear to work then this should be made a term of the employment contract
  • When formulating a dress code, its advisable to have a term dealing with appearance and a separate one dealing with dress, so as to cover situations where employees attend work with bizarre haircuts, facial tattoos etc.
  • A dress code must not be discriminatory, that is being seen as treating an employee less favourably due to one of the protected characteristics under the Equality Act 2010, such as sex, race, religion, age or disability
  • Dress codes should relate to the job and be reasonable in nature
  • Dress codes may have different requirements for men and women, for example when requiring conventional appearance for a particular job, but the employer must enforce compliance of the differing requirements in the same way for both genders
  • Even where a dress code is justifiable, an Employer should consider any legitimate objections from an employee, e.g. due to ill-health
  • An employer must make reasonable adjustments must be made for disabled people when dress codes are in place
  • Employers may have health and safety reasons for certain standards of dress
  • A dress code should take into account the racial or religious requirements of workers

That said, going back to the case of women being fired due to failure to remove religious symbols (headscarves), the court ruled against them: ‘An internal rule of an undertaking which prohibits the visible wearing of any political, philosophical or religious sign does not constitute direct discrimination.’

In relation to the matter of high-heels at work, the requirement to wear high heels had been included in the employer’s dress code, which the employee had signed.   The employer considered it was promoting a certain level of smartness consistent with present law on dress codes.

However, there are a number of health concerns regarding the wearing of high heels, which can cause damage to the joints of the feet, increases wear and tear round the knee joints, which might increase the risk of arthritis and also puts people with a weak lower back at risk of slipped vertebrae.

The employer in question has since revised its dress code, so as not to require women to have to wear high heels and there is expectation that the government will introduce new dress guidelines this summer.

Think your contracts or handbooks may need reviewing in relation to dress codes and uniform? We can help. Call Andrew Brett on 020 8884 2277

 

Andrew Brett, Solicitor

Staff Spotlight Stevenage Office Kim Osborne

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Barnes and Partners

 

Every month our team nominates colleagues at Barnes and Partners to feature in our Staff Spotlight. It is a way we can celebrate the excellence of our staff and give you a glimpse into the day-to-day life of our fantastic legal professionals.

This month we shine the spotlight on Kimberley Osborne, New Build Conveyancing Solicitor, at our Stevenage Barnes and Partners Solicitors office.

Kim has a real passion for the law and helping people, which is obvious from how she operates in her daily role.

This is Kim’s story in her own words:

From a young age the police/legal arena inspired me and this influence came from my parents who wanted to see me do well as an only child. I was born in Hertfordshire but grew-up in Manchester before I then moved back, to attend the University of Hertfordshire, where I studied for both my law degree and postgraduate diploma in legal practice (LPC). In my LPC I graduated with a distinction and then I knew I had what it took to be qualified!

I embarked upon a series of interviews with various firms and secured a training contract with a family run firm in Potters Bar Wason Lawrance Holder Solicitors. I loved my time there and I was treated as part of the family – I went from paralegal, trainee solicitor to qualified solicitor in my four years with the firm. After one year being qualified I felt it was time to move on and accept new challenges. I interviewed and was recruited for the job at Barnes and Partners.

A day in the life of me is a very varied. Dealing with emails, taking calls and meetings with my clients. I specialise in residential conveyancing new build acquisitions and some landlord and tenant advice. I can be doing anything from dealing with large scales of completions, once thirty in a day, to many exchanges of contracts. At the heart of everything I do is acting in my clients’ best interests – being the friendly, approachable and a reassuring voice at the end of the phone. I have seen the stresses and strains moving home can bring and I just want to make that process as easy as I can for my clients.

I love being a solicitor and I bring that passion to the table everyday. I love to help motivate my colleagues by making them laugh and I really enjoy the team spirit in our Stevenage office. I feel my colleagues at Stevenage are my work family. I would be lost without them; our latest recruit, my assistant Rebecca, has settled in seamlessly too and now she is such a support, as is everyone else.

It perhaps helps we have the perfect location working next door to a Wetherspoons and a Cinnabar as sometimes Friday after work drinks bring us all together too. An espresso martini is something I look forward to at the end of a busy week.

Espresso Martini

In terms of my home life, I live in Codicote – a little village near Stevenage.

My hobbies are pink, nails, hair and makeup. I’m a real girlie-girl, bows factor always in my outfit which stems from my childhood my great grandmother would always tie ribbons in my hair so I wasn’t mistaken for a boy as my hair didn’t grow until I was older. Since then I haven’t felt ready for my day without my bow or glittery hair clip. I like to dispel the myth that a solicitor has to look a certain way, and amongst my friends I am known as legally brunette!

Kim Osborne New Build BPS

 

Many thanks to Kim for sharing this with us. Her colleagues say: “from day one she has been nothing but helpful and always smiling”and “she is always teaching me new things and nothing is ever too much trouble.”Kim has a reputation for exceptional service and we are proud to say she has achieved completions for purchasers of new builds within extremely tight timeframes.

 

Want to ask Kim a question about new builds? Call on 0208 370 2800

Know Your Neighbours

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The Daily Express have recently reported that “7 out of 10 Britons admitted never speaking to those living around them”. Some may say it is a sign of the times.

 

Neighbours Disputes - Barnes and Partners Solicitors

 

As a solicitor specialising in residential conveyancing the moving process for both buying and indeed selling can be stressful not least in relation to the upheaval in peoples own lives whether it be moving for jobs or schools but the whole upheaval of moving from a place you have known and people you have known.

 

Here at Barnes & Partners we endeavour to reduce the stress wherever possible and are on hand to update you through your transaction or answer any questions you may have. With the same solicitor overseeing your transaction from start to finish there is always an expert who can help.

 

Whilst of course it is necessary for Sellers to disclose neighbour disputes when asked the question for the most part people are saddened to leave neighbours behind and the remaining neighbours may be restless until they know who is moving in next door!

 

If looking for a property to buy to live in it is always a good idea to visit the property/area at different times and speak with the neighbours, we find that most people are always keen to have a good chat.

 

Good neighbours can be hard to find but when found are worth their weight in gold. Personally I’ve been lucky with my neighbours, especially my very first neighbour who obviously thought he would be living next to a quiet single woman (me!) and over the next five-years found that situation turned into something quite different with the introduction of my partner and then two small children in the mix. The odd glass of wine shared in the kitchen with my neighbour then turned into the conspiratorial eating of chocolate buttons with the kids! Recently, now as a family, I have moved again. I consider myself fortunate to have found another set of wonderful neighbours. Unfortunately they are not so lucky to have us, especially as my older daughter has discovered baking and the neighbours get to sample the results (having seen the neighbours recently I am glad to say that they still seem relatively healthy).

 

Having conflicts or issues with your neighbours can be extremely stressful. One member of staff from our head office recently moved home and, whilst told it was a family friendly area with lots of children around, has actually found himself neighbouring some particularly energetic students, who love heavy metal music at all times of day and night.

 

If you are not as fortunate as I have personally been and find yourself the subject of a neighbour dispute then our litigation department is on hand to assist having a wealth of experience in this area. You can reach Andrew Brett on 0208 370 2800.

 

Nicola Payne, B&P Solicitors Chingford

 

Staff Spotlight Enfield Head Office Andrea Kamaris

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Welcome to April’s Staff Spotlight. Staff Spotlight gives you the opportunity to glimpse into the lives of our workforce and the special people who make Barnes and Partners the Solicitors firm that it is.

Every month at Barnes and Partners we take votes to nominate one of our exceptional staff so that we can publicly recognise and celebrate their excellent qualities. Once a winner is announced internally we provide a spotlight on that member of the team, something we call our “Staff Spotlight.”

Our winner this month is from our Accounts team at Enfield Head Office – Andrea Kamaris.

She is great asset to the team and she is described by her colleagues as “a joy to work with” “approachable” and they say she “always takes her job seriously and gives 100%” as well as hardworking and always going above and beyond“.

Andrea is a wonderful woman to have in our Accounts team, find out a bit more about her in Andrea’s own words below:

“I have been working for the firm for one and a half years working for the Accounts Department.  My day to day work is very busy as I work for a number of different branches, managing their client account information, dealing with bank queries and client account reconciliations. 

Accounts at Barnes and Partners

I started working as a receptionist in a firm of Accountants and I left there because it was only a part time role and I really wanted a full time position.  I had a friend who worked for Barnes and Partners Solicitors who told me that a position was available in the Accounts Department and I went for it!  I have been working for Barnes and Partners ever since.

In terms of what I love most about my role, I really enjoy working here because of the people I work with. 

In my spare tome I love to socialise and go out with friends and family, taking some time out to have fun and relax.”

Thank-you for your words Andrea.

It is wonderful to know that it was a Barnes and Partners’ team member who recommended the role to Andrea in the first place but Andrea was a fantastic fit and a valuable member of the Barnes and Partners family.

Accounts Departments are obviously an integral part of business and we are really proud of Andrea and our whole Accounts personnel who do a great job for our clients and us.

Mothers Day Child Arrangements

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Mother’s Day is often a wonderful celebratory time for many families. However it can also be a painful reminder of difficult circumstances if you are unable to spend time with your children on this special day. It can be the small things that can make you feel sad, perhaps as a single parent when your children are too young to make a card or recognise the occasion. However it can be felt much more deeply on Mother’s Day, when your children are not with you.

 

 

Contact and residence matters, now referred to as ‘child arrangements’, can be a long and emotionally draining journey to reach an agreement or decision on what these should be. This process isn’t necessarily free either; there is no public funding for these matters since the legal aid cuts except in cases where there is specific evidence of domestic abuse dated within the last five years.

 

If matters can be resolved amicably, that is beneficial for all involved but sadly this isn’t always possible. Mediation is encouraged and if this is effective then other avenues can be explored.

 

If you are the primary carer and fear the other party is a serious risk to your children then you may take the decision to stop contact. The Courts will seek to ensure that appropriate safeguarding takes place if there is any risk that the children may be exposed to.

 

We can assist with all sorts of matters of this nature including child arrangement disputes and even help with enforcement of child arrangement orders where one party isn’t complying with a Court order.

 

What is important to remember is that when there are children involved in the situation and though emotions run high, your child’s wellbeing is the most important factor to consider. Sometimes taking legal advice is necessary to gain a resolution and ensure the best outcome for your child/children.

 

Within the Court process there will be involvement from CAFCASS. They may give recommendations as to who is best placed to care for the children, or how much time each parent should spend with the children. It isn’t the case that Mothers will always be the primary carer. A decision will be made based on the circumstances of each case. The best interests of the children will be the main consideration for any Court. This is a difficult situation for anyone to go through and though the process may take a certain amount of time, effects can be felt a long time afterwards.

 

We understand this can be a stressful and turbulent time and we will always strive to go beyond the best legal advice, also providing emotional support and practical advice.

 

If you do need some advice at this time get in touch on 0208 884 2277.

 

Deepa Chohan, Solicitor

Gift or Not a Gift – Conveyancing

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When is a gift not a gift? I mean this in relation to buying a house and being given cash towards a conveyancing transaction.

You will no doubt have seen the piece in the news recently about Ryan Giggs moving into the house he bought for his mother.

More and more we are seeing gifts in conveyancing transactions, although usually they are from the bank of mum and dad and not the other way around! So what’s the difference between a gift and a loan and when is a gift not a gift?

The most common gifts seen in conveyancing transactions are gifted deposits -these are monies given to buyers and applied towards the purchase price and are usually from family members. However, gifts must be disclosed to both solicitors and mortgage lenders alike.

Money Gift ConveyancingIn order to comply with requirements solicitors are under an obligation to disclose the existence of gifts to the mortgage lender. The persons giving the gifts (let’s call them the giftors) will need to confirm in writing that the monies are a gift and not a loan and therefore the giftors will not have any interest in the property. The mortgage lender will rely on this declaration. Most solicitors will also require proof of identification for the giftors and evidence of the source of funds.

 

The majority if not all lenders will be reluctant to lend if the monies are not a gift and therefore will need to be repaid. This is usually be because the lender does not want any further parties to have an interest in the property in the event that the lender repossess’ the same.

So when gifting monies, giftors should appreciate the fact that they will have no control over the monies given and cannot claim it back! In most situations there is no problem with this but consider the following example:

Tim and Sarah have decided to buy a property for £300,000. They are obtaining a mortgage for £200,000 contributing £60,000 themselves from their joint savings. Sarah’s dad, Jeff, is gifting £40,000. But who is he gifting the monies to – Tim and Sarah or just Sarah? If to Tim and Sarah then there is no problem. If Jeff wishes the money to benefit his daughter only how can the gift be given for the benefit of Sarah if the house is being bought jointly between Tim and Sarah – Jeff will have no control over the gift. Well, one way would be for Tim and Sarah to enter into a deed of trust, stating that in the event the property is sold the first £40,000 of the equity could be applied for the sole benefit of Sarah with the remainder of the equity being split between Tim and Sarah. This means that whilst Jeff’s gift is a gift, the gift is going to the benefit of his daughter both now and in the future. The gift that keeps on gifting!

 

We hope this has been illuminating.

Should you like more information please contact Nicola Payne, Partner, Conveyancing – 020 8506 3729 or for any questions about trusts please contact Nancy Mortemore or Nigel Barnes on [email protected]

 

Nicola Payne, B&P Solicitors Chingford

Cyber Crime and Buying a Property

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How safe is your data? Newspapers are full of horror stories about scam emails and homebuyers losing thousands to online criminals.

Cyber criminals often mislead buyers to misdirect their deposits or outstanding monies into the wrong bank accounts instead of to their Conveyancing Solicitor’s account. You might be wondering how they are able to do it? This isn’t likely to be through a breach in the Conveyancers’ security.

Essentially all the criminal needs is the buyer’s email address and a rough idea of when the deposit would be needed. Criminals have technology that intercepts emails, often estate agents’ emails do not have the same security measures in place that you might expect from a legal practice and certainly a client’s email address is unlikely to be encrypted. So, an estate agent sends the memo of sale to the client by email and the client responds or forwards it on and the criminal now has access showing all parties and contact details for the chain. They now just need to estimate when the Buyer will send the deposit or balance of proceeds to their solicitor.

Legal firms are bound by so much compliance and procedures to ensure their clients’ most important details are kept safe. Conveyancers often get the blame but the reality is very different, with information being obtained by the criminals from a number of varying sources.

Social Media - Cyber Crime

Monitoring emails is one option but more often than not a leak of information occurs via social media. A status update on Facebook or Twitter, ‘ So excited, just received my mortgage offer’ is enough to tip off the fraudster. It takes only minutes to set up a spoof email address to enable them to pretend to be the Conveyancer. There are even websites in existence that enable people to create a spoof email address. They then send an email to the client advising that now they have the mortgage offer they must send the deposit to the following account immediately. Caught up in the excitement of moving, the client doesn’t question it.

And that is just it, we need to educate the public to think twice and some really simple measures make all the difference:

  • At Barnes and Partners, we tell our clients at the outset our client account bank details and advise them that they will not change
  • We advise you to have a verification process – so if you plan to send monies to anyone and you have received the details by email then telephone to double check the details are correct
  • Be aware of the perils of open WiFi – criminals spend all day sitting in coffee shops cyber spying through open networks enabling them to identity who your Conveyancer is and even obtaining keystrokes for online banking passwords
  • Be careful what you post on social media and generally be vigilant for suspicious emails or communications
  • Identify your callers – make sure before you give any information to anyone on the phone that they are who they say they are…are they really calling from the estate agents’ office or are they trying to find out the name of the person dealing with the Conveyancing?

The majority of cyber attacks are unsophisticated and so by taking these simple steps you can make a real difference in protecting your money.

We hope these pointers prove helpful. If in doubt about any of the above, please don’t hesitate to get in touch.

 

Staff Spotlight – Edmonton Office Robert Dawson

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Our Staff Spotlight is one of the ways we celebrate the excellence of our workforce across all of our Barnes and Partners Solicitors branches. We take the opportunity to give you a glimpse into the lives of some of our fantastic legal professionals.

This month we shine the spotlight on Robert Dawson, Conveyancer, at our Edmonton Barnes and Partners Solicitors office.

BandPS Edmonton

Robert is in his seventh year as a Barnes and Partners employee. In his years with us he has become a vital part of our team and his enthusiasm, work ethic and skills are illustrated in the way he carries out his daily role.

This is what Robert has to share with us:

I cut my teeth at a high street solicitors firm in my hometown of Billericay, starting off learning post-completion matters. Whilst there a solicitor took me under his wing to learn about the conveyancing process – I was fortunate to have my skills nurtured and receive this guidance, which culminated with me running my own caseload during the end of my five-years at the firm.

Fresh opportunities came calling and I joined a panel conveyancing firm called DC Law in Basildon and there I handled volume conveyancing transactions, working with Move With Us. After more experience with another high street firm, in 2007 I ventured out to seek a new position at a well-established, larger firm. I hoped to find fresh challenges and it was then I was offered a role at Barnes and Partners.

Barnes and Partners

I was asked to cultivate my own workload from local estate agents and I am now handling a full caseload from local estate agents. During my time here I qualified as a licensed conveyancer, followed by a qualification as a legal executive.

Currently a day-in the life of me constitutes daily contact with clients and estate agents. I am always doing my best to maintain contact with my clients and I care about giving them a quality service and experience. I am conscious that in the legal world processes can be complex and by their nature slow, but my aim is to progress clients’ transactions to completion as quickly as possible without compromising thoroughness.

I enjoy the face-to-face client contact that I have, which helps build a strong relationship that I don’t feel can be achieved as well merely by e-mail or telephone. I gain a huge amount of job satisfaction through helping clients get a successful outcome and the fact that I have the opportunity to cultivate my own clients and build my own little business under the B&P umbrella, makes it even better from a personal achievement point of view.

I am constantly learning from different transactions and from dealing with various types of people and their needs. This helps me to continue to develop and improve the way I work and the customer service I can offer.

Barnes and Partners genuinely does feel more like family than work colleagues and this is not something I have experienced during my working life before. It really makes all the difference. The management are progressive and encourage the staff to have an input, this makes everyone feel part of the team and there is no distance between employees and partners. I believe this makes everyone feel valued and not afraid to communicate with the partners.

I honestly live and breathe my job as I love it! That said I do of course love to spend my spare time with my partner and children. I also really enjoy eating out and trying new restaurants as well as improving my handicap on the golf course.

 

golf legal conveyancing

Many thanks to Robert for sharing this with us. Robert’s colleagues say of him “he always displays maturity and commitment. He is very organised and gives an outstanding service” and “he is knowledgeable, helpful and an all around nice guy.”

We are proud to have Robert as a dedicated member of the Barnes and Partners’ team.

If you have a question for Robert at our Barnes and Partners Solicitors Edmonton branch then please don’t hesitate to get in touch – 0208 884 2277