HomeInsightsCommercial Property Law – Key Considerations (January 2023)


Our January 2023 summary of the latest developments in Property law and practice is as follows:

Conservation covenants are new agreements relating to the conservation of certain features of land. The Local Land Charges (Amendment) Rules 2022 (SI 2022/1149) take effect from 29 November 2022 to create this new local land charge for the future protection of land. They have been created as local land charges to overcome the limitations of ordinary covenants affecting land in England and Wales which, in general, would only bind successors in title to that land if they were created for the benefit of some other identified neighbouring land (i.e. the landowner needed to be retaining some land) and were restrictive in nature. Accordingly, following recommendations by the Law Commission, the Government enacted Part 7 of the Environment Act 2021 (in force from 30 September 2022 by virtue of the Environment Act 2021 (Commencement No. 2 and Saving Provision) Regulations 2022 (SI 2022/48)) to pave the way for conservation covenant agreements.

A conservation covenant agreement is a private, voluntary agreement between a landowner and another body (a “responsible body”) that enables the landowner to guarantee long-term protection of the land and to ensure the conservation of natural or heritage features on the land. Conservation covenants may impose positive obligations on landowners (e.g. to carry out activities or to manage land in a way that ensures a conservation outcome) or restrictive obligations on landowners (e.g. not to carry out works, excavations, planting of tress, shrubbery etc.). The agreement, which must be executed as a deed, must have a “conservation purpose”. A conservation purpose is one which is to conserve the natural environment of land or the natural resources of land, to conserve land as a place of archaeological, architectural, artistic, cultural or historic interest, or to conserve the setting of land with a natural environment or natural resources or which is a place of archaeological, architectural, artistic, cultural or historic interest.

The Stamp Duty Land Tax (Service of Documents) Regulations 2022 (SI 2022/1185) are in force from 6 December 2022. These regulations prescribe that a company’s registered office and the address it provides on its land transaction return are addresses to which a notice or other documents under Part 4 of the Finance Act 2003 (i.e. relating to SDLT) may be given, delivered or served by HMRC. This means that any such notice or other document sent to these prescribed places will be properly addressed for the purposes of section 7 of the Interpretation Act 1978, and service will be deemed to be effective.

In the past, when a taxpayer submitted an option to tax, HMRC would carry out a number of checks in relation to the notification before sending out an acknowledgement. Going forwards, HMRC now will issue a receipt confirming receipt of the option to tax without carrying out checks. This does not confirm validity. It remains for the taxpayer (or the third party that has requested sight of the relevant option to tax) to ensure that the option to tax is valid.

The Land Registry has made permanent changes that were originally introduced as a temporary measure in May 2020 for the verification of identity during the pandemic. Those changes included:

  • Allowing verification of a person’s identity to be done by video call. Conveyancers must complete the Form ID5 where they have verified identity by way of a video call for the purpose of completing a Form ID1 or
  • Requiring Form ID1 or ID2 to be no more than 6 months old at the time of the application (increased from the original 3 month validity period).
  • Allowing verification of identity by a non-conveyancer; e.g. a retired conveyancer, solicitor, barrister or chartered legal executive, a doctor or dentist, a chartered or certified accountant, or some other professional person, and including two new identity forms for the purposes of verification by a non-conveyancer: Form ID3 for verification by a non-conveyancer of a private individual; Form ID4 for verification by a non-conveyancer of a corporate body. These forms must be no more than 3 months old when lodged with an application for registration.