September 3, 2014 6:49 pm

Property law: plans to offer more help for home businesses

  • Share
  • Print
  • Clip
  • Gift Article
  • Comments
Support for home business, buying government land and challenging parking policies
James Ferguson illustration©James Ferguson

1. More support for home business

I’ve read that the government wants to make it easier for people to run businesses from home. What is going to happen? The government recently held a Home Business Summit, promising more support. The detailed proposals haven’t yet been released but the government says it wants to change official guidance so a home business won’t usually need planning permission and won’t incur business rates.

That would help but what about leases that prohibit business use? The government is unlikely to force landlords to allow business use, although it wants to promote a model form of tenancy that would make it harder to refuse permission for a home business. Landlords are often nervous about allowing business use in a residential property, because it could change the nature of the tenancy and make it difficult for the landlord to get the property back from the tenant. The government hopes to remove that risk by changing the law to stop a home business having that effect.

So the process might become simpler? Yes, some things will become easier. But there are still lots of other issues. The government has produced a brief checklist of some of the things to consider.

Is there any opportunity to share my experiences of trying to run a home business? You can complete a survey being carried out by Enterprise Nation as part of the government’s initiative. The information gathered will be used to create a report to be published later this year.

2. Finding government property to buy or let

There has been a lot of coverage of the government’s intention to get rid of surplus land. How do I find out if there is any land available to buy or rent near me? The government has recently relaunched its Government Property Finder service. You can search for properties to rent or to buy either by postcode, town or by region. It is still in “beta” mode, so results may not be perfect but it does seem to be an improvement on the previous version. Where property is still in use by government departments, you could use the right to contest to try to persuade the government to sell it.

3. Right to challenge local parking policies

I think the parking rules in my neighbourhood are too restrictive and it costs a fortune to park anywhere. Is there anything I can do about it? Any individual or business is free to contact a local authority about any aspect of its policy. But on parking, the government has recognised the need for a more formal process and has just launched a discussion paper about how to make parking policies more accountable to local stakeholders.

That sounds interesting. Would local residents need to get together and produce something like a petition? That is the government’s idea. The discussion paper invites comments about how a petition process should work, to make sure that views expressed are representative and not just those of individuals. The initial suggestion is that there should be a minimum of 50 signatures or at least 10 per cent of the residents or businesses in the affected local area.

That sounds reasonable but I live on a small road, with only a few residents. How could we have our say about specific parking restrictions on our street? The government is inviting views on how the wishes of residents in small but clearly defined areas should be formally taken into account.

What would happen once we had put in our petition? The government wants the local authority to review its parking policy for the location identified in the petition and produce a report, to be considered and decided on by elected councillors at a public council meeting.

How would we know whether other residents had raised similar issues? The government is recommending that local authorities should publish details of all petitions received, with time lines for policy reviews and information about how local residents and businesses can get involved.

How do I make comments on the proposals? The discussion paper sets out details of where to send your comments. The closing date is October 10 2014.

Fiona Larcombe is a solicitor in the Real Estate team at King & Wood Mallesons SJ Berwin

Copyright The Financial Times Limited 2015. You may share using our article tools.
Please don't cut articles from and redistribute by email or post to the web.

  • Share
  • Print
  • Clip
  • Gift Article
  • Comments



More FT Twitter accounts