Jeremy’s Jottings

The energy game changer.

During my career I have experienced some significant changes to property legislation. Frequently experts have claimed the impact would be the introduction of a two tier market. Inevitably this didn’t turn out to be the case. In previous jottings I have highlighted the introduction of the Energy Act to non-domestic properties In July the Department of Energy & Climate Change issued a consultation on the “Minimum Energy Efficiency Standard Regulations for non-domestic properties in England and Wales” (“MEES”). The consultation document is some 40 pages. Having taken time to consider the document, for the first time in my career, I’m of the view MEES is highly likely to lead to a two tier market. On this occasion the experts, at present, are silent.

In addition to being of the view MEES is highly likely to lead to a two tier market, dependent upon the economic cycle between 2018 and 2023, MEES has the potential to significantly impact upon the construction industry. Publication of MEES is anticipated early in 2015. An editorial I have seen suggested that if publication is delayed until after the election, dependent upon the make-up of the new government, the Regulations might be scrapped along with other “Green” initiatives.

Due to the relatively short timescale prior to implementation I am of the view it is likely to be better planning sooner rather than later. In my naivety I had assumed MEES was only to apply to lettings after 2018. For this reason it came as a surprise to find that Government is proposing a backstop date of April 2023 by which time all tenanted commercial property would have to be compliant. From the Energy Act I had understood MEES was to apply to the sale of non-domestic property. This does not appear to be the case. In essence, by introducing MEES, the Government is proposing to outlaw lettings of commercial properties with an energy performance certificate (EPC) rating of F or G from 1st April 2018.

Government believes this may affect as many as 18% of non-domestic property. Having said this there are an array of proposed exemptions. The consultation document is readily readable and I encourage you to do so. The document is at www.gov.uk/government/consultations/private-rented-sector-energy-efficiency-regulations-non-domestic. The consultation closes 11.45 p.m. Tuesday 2nd September.

In the meantime I leave you with the following questions: Green Deal finance is not yet available for commercial properties. Government’s expectation is that finance providers will come forward to meet demand. If you are a landlord would you be willing to fund improvements for no commercial return? The obligation to undertake work to improve energy performance rests with the landlord. If you’re a tenant how are you going to feel about the disruption whilst work is undertaken? Whether you are a landlord or a tenant how are the Regulations to interact with the security of tenure provisions of the Landlord & Tenant act 1954 Part II (as amended)?

If your property has not already got an EPC should you seek one now or is this an instance of ignorance may be bliss? To achieve UK’s legislative targets, CO2 emissions from all buildings must be close to zero by 2050. This implies in the longer term buildings will need to reach energy efficiency standards of close to an A EPC rating. How long will it be before the Government proposes to outlaw lettings of commercial properties with an energy performance certificate rating of say C, D or E? If you have proposals to improve and or refurbish your portfolio does it make economic sense to consider this now?

I could go on – when you read the consultation I think you’ll see why. It’s the intention to update clients as MEES become clear. If you would like to be included if you let me have your email address I will be happy to do so. In the meantime, if you would like free no obligation advice regarding your portfolio by all means give me a call to arrange an appointment.

Jeremy’s jottings do not constitute advice on any specific matter. Lawson Commercial recommends you seek professional advice before taking action. No liability can be accepted by us for any action taken or not taken as a result of the jottings.

Town Centre Headquarters Office Building For Sale Or To Let

Lawson Commercial have just been instructed to market Suites 1, 2 & 3 Warren Court in Park Road, Crowborough. This imposing modern office building was consructed in the early 1990s and these premises comprise three intercommunicating suites on 3 floors with a lift , totalling just under 5,000 sq and with plenty of car parking.  Not for many years has this amount of space become available in Crowborough town centre with the building being within easy walking distance of the shops. It is ideal for a business that wants to expand in the area and acquire its own freehold and may also appeal to someone from the Tunbridge Wells area who is looking for their own freehold.

Jeremy’s Jottings

When working in the City of London I was privileged to be responsible for the asset management of high value buildings. Prior to undertaking any work contractors would be required to make available their health & safety policy, method statements, details of accident records and insurance. If a contractor claimed an accident free record in the previous three years they weren’t considered any further. When work was in hand contractors were subject to random inspections to ensure compliance with terms and conditions and health & safety.

So, one sunny day I was in the office, the windows were open, I had heard a number of emergency sirens (but this want unusual) and shortly afterward I began to wonder why the air ambulance was buzzing around. There were six telephones in the office and all started to ring within a few seconds of each other. It was a member of the facilities team who worked for me who thought I should know an employee of a contractor had fallen off a roof whilst carrying a bucket of hot tar. The tar bucket missed the employee and bouncing off a couple of walls on the way down probably saved the employee’s life – his days of working in the building trade were though at an end.

Being able to provide the Health & Safety Executive with method statements, Health & Safety policies and demonstrate reasonable precautions had been taken when engaging the contractor meant my employer was found to be in the clear. The HSE didn’t prosecute the contractor, but the investigation lasted around 6 months, the contractor lost work and none of this did anything for the contractor’s reputation. With the aid of crutches and something like of 21/2 years later the employee had a degree of mobility.

To my mind Health & Safety is too often used as an excuse either not to do something or to be overly cautious. On the other hand when inspecting property the number of tenants unaware of say the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 bearing in mind this is now 10 years old is truly unbelievable – and it’s not just the fire regulations I could list many others. If you’re not aware or aren’t sure where to begin then I find the HSE website can be a good starting point. In addition why not look around and address the simple obvious things like the files on the floor which people have a habit of tripping over or say make sure the fire exits aren’t obstructed before……oh too late.

Jeremy’s jottings do not constitute advice on any specific matter. Lawson Commercial recommends you seek professional advice before taking action. No liability can be accepted by us for any action taken or not taken as a result of the jottings.

Former Estate Agents Premises Let in Heathfield

Following the merger of Lampons and Freeman Forman, the old Lampons office at 1 Station Road in Heathfield became surplus to requirements. Lawson Commercial are pleased to announce they have let these premises to local gift shop traders All Wrapped Up who are moving from the High Street to these larger premises in Station Road. We are delighted that a local retailer is expanding and All Wrapped Up will be more than doubling their trading area in the new premises.

Freehold Offices With Shop Sold

Lawson Commercial have sold the freehold of 4 The Broadway and Thorpe House, Croft Road in the centre of Crowborough. This building has a shop on the ground floor facing onto The Broadway which is let producing an income of £8,500 per annum and above are 3 floors of offices with their main entrance from Croft Road, being known as Thorpe House. When this first came on the market we had a lot of interest in the building particularly from people who wanted to turn the upper parts from offices into flats. Unfortunately this building fell foul of  Wealden District Council’s 7km restriction which prevents this type of development. This was great shame because,having flats in our town centres brings back life to our towns and is Government policy. However we are very pleased to say that we have introduced a financial services company from the Bexhill area who have acquired the premises for their new offices. They will be carrying out extensive refurbishment of the office space which comprises some 1,200 sq ft on 3 floors.  A price close to the asking price £200,000 was paid.

Woodland Coppice, Bexhill

Lawson Commercial have been asked to re-market this really good spacious warehouse/industrial building located just north of Sidley on the Ninfield Road at Bexhill. The building is secluded with a lower yard of just under 6,000 sq ft, very useful for occasional parking, which leads up a slope to the unit which is screened by trees. This is a brand new building of just over 6,000 sq ft ideal for warehouse purposes and having a good car park at the front of approximately 5,000 sq ft. The property was under offer to a local company but unfortunately the Planning Authority are not prepared to allow the particular use the prospective purchaser required. Thus the property is once again available. It is very competitively priced at only £4.50 per sq ft overall for the building, not allowing for the valuable yard /parking areas. Within the building is a brand new, 2-storey office pod with office, kitchen & cloakroom on the ground floor and a further office at 1st floor. There is good eaves height so potential to install a mezzanine floor and the building benefits from front & rear loading doors so can be driven right through. In all a property well worth viewing.