Your legal questions answered by Fahmida Ismail, Partner at Sydney Mitchell LLP. As featured in Worcester News, 23rd December 2014.

 

Q. The intestacy rules dictate that my mother’s estate is to be divided equally between her four children, but there has been friction over the house. Three of the children still live there, but one wants to move out. Can the children who don’t want to live there insist on being paid for their quarter shares, or failing that have the property sold?

A. Each is entitled to their quarter share, and technically each of the owners has a right to ask the court to force the sale of the property. Whether they would be successful would depend on the particular circumstances. It may be a good idea for all the children to see a solicitor together so they can understand the legal position and then try and reach agreement before any dispute erupts. You should also arrange to have the house professionally valued.

 

Q. For the last 15 years I have received a basic salary topped up by commission which amounts to 50 per cent of my wages. Now the company is proposing to scrap the commission, and the annual salary they’re suggesting won’t make up the shortfall. I don’t have a written agreement, but are they entitled to change our pay system like this?

A. You have an employment contract based on your employment experience over the past 15 years. The firm can’t change these arrangements unless they could convince an employment tribunal that they have a very good business reason for doing so. If you are a member of a trade union and there’s a collective agreement you may be stuck with the new pay arrangement. Otherwise you should raise a grievance with your employer. Ultimately an employment tribunal may have to rule whether the change is reasonable.

 

Q. Nine years ago we rented two shop units on a ten-year lease. We let the second one to a friend with the landlord’s permission. The landlord is now asking £16,000 a year for our shop and £10,500 for the other one, which seems excessive. They don’t want to discuss it. What can we do?

A. I take it you have received a “section 25” notice suggesting terms for new leases. These are just starting proposals for negotiation. If agreement cannot be reached, an application can be made to the County Court to decide the terms of the lease including the current market rent. Note that your sub-tenant may be entitled to a new lease directly from the landlord rather than from you.  This is a complicated area and you should ask a solicitor and a surveyor for advice before taking any further action.

 

For further information on any of the issues raised, please contact Fahmida Ismail on 0121 698 2200 or fill in our online enquiry form.

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