Real Estate

In this section

We understand the need for practical solutions to property issues to be delivered promptly.

We are well known for being adept at combining strong technical skills with a commercial approach.

We advise clients on a wide range of transactions involving the ownership and development of both freehold and leasehold land and buildings.  Matters can involve individual properties, portfolios (residential, commercial and mixed use), chains of stores, premises for larger companies and corporations and major development projects.  Each senior team member brings an individual specialism, covering sectors such as agriculture, education, manufacturing, food and wholesale, charities, and investment.

We also have specialists in areas including strategic land, property guardianship, property disputes and environment and regulatory.

Our main areas of work are listed to the side and provide a summary of some of what we can do.  Greenwoods GRM will ensure whatever your commercial property issue, we will be able to guide you towards an effective solution.  We take pride in working with our clients to really understand them and their business to ensure their goals are achieved.  Our team members are listed here.

Please click on the links below to see further detail of our buying and selling experience across a range of sectors

The Real Estate team offers a new ‘Collaborate’ system.  Combining technology with a client-focussed approach ‘Collaborate’ enables digitisation, helps deliver greater efficiency and offers greater visibility of risk.  Remote working has highlighted just how important it is for property portfolio managers to have easy and secure online access to property details and documents, and the Real Estate team has been at the forefront of launching this new product for the benefit of its client base.

The real estate team contributes monthly articles to Business Weekly and we regularly publish our own updates which you may find of interest to read.

Commercial property issues may require input from other professional advisers particularly chartered surveyors, architects and accountants.  We have strong working relationships with a wide range of advisers; these relationships can, in some cases, help ensure the success of the venture.

Our service is effective, efficient and responsive achieved at a cost that guarantees success to all parties.

 

 

 

What others say about us:

The Legal 500 rates us as a first tier firm for our Commercial Property advice:

“‘I find the individual team members I have worked with to be very easy to work with. They are supportive and their knowledge base enables them to offer a pragmatic approach to the matters at hand’.” (2021)

“‘Samantha East has always made an effort to be available and responds very quickly with excellent advice’.” (2020)

“A ‘highly skilled and commercially aware firm’ that comes ‘highly recommended’ by clients, who are ‘happy to refer others to the firm’.” (2017)

Is Commercial Property your core business or do you need a new or different space for your business?

Either way, our expert commercial property lawyers can help you.

Increasingly in this market, once a deal has been negotiated you just want a solicitor who will work with you and your team to get it over the line.  This applies whether property is your business or you are looking to acquire new premises to occupy.  We will work with you to best understand your business needs and know that you want to get on with the deal so that you can concentrate on your day job. We understand that delays cost money and our commercial property lawyers will work with you, your professional team, surveyors and funders to keep these to a minimum.

If you have a site that is surplus to requirements, we know that you want to complete a sale as quickly as possible. We can work with you from the moment you decide to sell to prepare a sales pack or data room so that you are ready to go as soon as a buyer is found.

Property transactions can be complex and sometimes just plain difficult, as a variety of problems may arise ranging from user restrictions, environmental or regulatory issues or limited access to title complications or disputes.  We will give you clear guidance: not only identifying the problems; but also explaining how they could affect your business and then we will work with you to provide a practical and effective solution.

Our team has vast experience in buying and selling commercial, mixed-use and residential property (see Residential Property section for more detail).  We act for every type of seller or buyer: including landowners, developers, manufacturers, education providers, social housing providers, charities and private clients.  Our team has extensive experience in traditional sales and purchases and auction work as well as corporate sales and purchases (both shares and assets)and is focused on delivering to you the best outcome.

 

If you are thinking about buying or selling, we have five suggestions:

  • Involve us as early as possible.  We can liaise with your agents on the heads of terms.  This way we can avoid having to change terms for technical legal reasons;
  • Tell us your real business timetable.  Let us know all lead in times for any works, ordering movers or kit, telephone or broadband cabling, machinery, fixtures and fittings, notice to staff;
  • Tell us about any special requirements.  If you cannot operate on a site without a particular level of electricity supply or you intend to develop we need to know so that we can check whether title or other restrictions on the property may prevent you from doing what you want;
  • Tell us if you are getting funding. Your funders will have specific requirements and we will save you time and money if we work with them from the beginning of the transaction to satisfy them;
  • Tell us if your signatories are not always available.  Let us know when authorised signatories will or will not be available – deals can be held up because the only person who can sign is on holiday!

To talk about how we can help, please contact Samantha East, Lisa Mantle or Karin Horsley

 

A lease of your commercial premises is a contract: its terms can affect your business and it is important to get it right.

Rent, service charges, insurance premiums, utility costs, business rates and taxes: the lease says who will be responsible for paying these and any other costs associated with the property.  If you are a tenant taking a lease of a property you want to know what the property is likely to cost you. If you are a landlord you will want to ensure that you can recover all costs from the tenant.

As tenant, you should consider whether you can transfer the lease or underlet the property to someone else during the contractual term, alter the property, or use the property for a particular purpose, and what, if any, conditions are attached.

A contractual right to end the lease early, the parties’ repairing and decorating obligations under the lease, rent reviews, service charge and insurance provisions are further important considerations.

The contractual term and whether or not security of tenure is being granted and the implications of this are also key factors to be taken into account.

Our specialist landlord and tenant lawyers can work with you to advise you on these and other provisions of the lease. In addition we can negotiate the form of the lease on your behalf, to achieve the best outcome possible in the circumstances.

Our Property Disputes team specialise in issues such as exercising landlord or tenant breaks, dilapidations, end of term obligations and responsibilities and can provide you with advice and guidance in these areas.

When thinking about a lease why not:

  • Involve us as soon as possible. We can advise you on any legal technicalities before you agree final heads of terms;
  • Think about timing. If you don’t instruct us until you are ready to move in, you may lose an opportunity to negotiate and settle a lease with more favourable lease provisions. Give yourself, and us, as much time as possible;
  • Decide what you want to do with the property. Cover points such as works you want to do to the property with the landlord or its agents as early as possible and be ready to produce properly drawn up plans and or specifications for those works.  Be aware that landlord’s formal written consent by way of a Licence is usually required;
  • Obtain a survey. Tenants often think that a survey is not necessary where the landlord is responsible for maintenance and repair of the main parts of a building. You may not have to do any work to repair the building, but you may have to pay for it.  You should in any event obtain a survey of the premises you will be leasing and which you have responsibility for repairing and decorating. Paying for a survey may allow you to avoid significant costs in the future or, at least, to bear in mind and budget for them.
  • Think about limiting your repairing liability.  If it is a short lease and the premises are not in a good condition or state of repair, as a tenant you may want to consider limiting your repairing obligations under the lease by reference to a photographic schedule of condition.

To talk about how we can help, please contact May Ozga or Ann-marie Clow

You want your investment in property to be profitable.

With our all-round commercial property and landlord and tenant expertise we can help you achieve your goal.

Any investment property must be well managed. One important aspect of this management is the relationship between us, your legal team, and the people managing the property, usually your managing agents. Our lawyers appreciate this and aim to work seamlessly as part of your property ‘team’, liaising with you, your managing agents and your funders to ensure that everyone is kept up to date.

We can create and advise on standard documents for the property so that lettings and management documents can be dealt with quickly and professionally. To help your managing agents, we can establish standard procedures and regular reports.  Using our client portal we can design bespoke reports and store key documentation so that you can have “real time” access to the progress of lettings,  licences, consents and access to key dates to ensure lease terminations and renewals are reviewed regularly.

We enjoy working with our clients collaboratively in this way and take great pleasure in completing transactions which add value to your investment.

Our work for investors includes:

  • Setting up client specific portal using our Collaborate management tool;
  • Dealing with all legal aspects of the property purchase;
  • Setting up standard leases, and, if necessary, obtaining funders’ approval to standard documentation;
  • Establishing procedures for taking instructions, reporting and completing transactions with your managing agents;
  • Lettings: granting leases, licences to assign and licences for alterations;
  • Dealing with lease renewals both under the Landlord and Tenant Act 1954 and otherwise;
  • Terminating leases and advising on end of lease obligations, including dilapidations.

To talk about how we can help, please contact Samantha East or Lisa Mantle

 

Sellers, buyers, developers, funders, contractors and occupiers all play an important part in developments and all need expert legal advice.

Development is like an ever-moving three-dimensional jigsaw puzzle.  Each piece has to be carefully put together to create the development end-product as a success for all parties.

Whether you are the first piece of the puzzle: a landowner whose property could be developed at some point in the future; or the very important last piece, the buyer or tenant who will occupy the completed house, office, shop, warehouse or factory, or anyone in between, we can help you see the whole picture and advise you on your part in it.

Our Development team has a huge amount of experience in commercial, mixed use and residential developments of all sizes and can assist you, whichever piece of the puzzle you are.

We have a wealth of experience in acquisitions and strategic land assembly so can act from the very first moment a development is contemplated.  Often the land is farmland and our agricultural and rural team understand all of the complexities involved in securing vacant possession or short term crop leases for example.  If not farmland, the land is often tenanted and our landlord and tenant team and property disputes team are able to advise on all elements of bringing tenancies to an end and securing vacant possession of occupied properties.

For our developer clients we know how important it is to get the product delivered and funding secured.  We work side by side with our construction team to ensure the documentation delivers the results required and to the right standard.  This is also hand in glove with funder requirements which are often key to getting the development off the ground, and the team has an enormous amount of experience in property finance and will work closely with our corporate colleagues on all banking advice.

In development, anything that can happen frequently does and so we are used to thinking on our feet and creating solutions to practical problems.  If something really goes wrong, our property disputes colleagues are on hand to advise and help to resolve any dispute.  We also have excellent contentious construction advice available from our construction colleagues if anything goes wrong on site and you need to look to your remedies.  This also means we are well placed to jump in and assist if you are experiencing difficulties on a development which has already started – we have the tools to try and get you back on track.

We have an excellent regulatory team who can advise on environmental regulation, health and safety and fire safety along with a wealth of other topics.

When the development is up and running the key aim for developer and funder alike is to secure the sales or lettings and we have experts in both commercial landlord and tenant and residential sales and lettings who understand the need to deliver on this final piece of the development puzzle to make it a success.

Whether you are in the initial stages of a development idea, halfway through or in the final stages we can help.  If you get us involved at the outset, we can advise you on the sale and purchase contract including negotiating any conditions, or option agreement, development agreement, forward funding arrangements, any overage deeds or restrictions, lease terms either on pre-lets or a leaseback arrangement and all ancillary matters such as planning obligations and adoption agreements for roads and sewers.  If you come to us later we can focus on delivering the end results. Either way, we would be more than happy to be on your team.

Do you know that even a small straight forward development may involve:

  • Planning applications including wildlife surveys, archaeological investigation, environmental reports and highway studies, which can create delays and are expensive.
  • Sale and purchase contracts which may be conditional on planning or require the buyer/developer to pay an additional amount (overage) to the seller/landowner if planning permission is granted and the development takes place.
  • A development agreement setting out the way the development is to take place, how long it will take, who is to provide warranties and guarantees and the arrangements for any letting of the finished property;
  • An agreement for lease and lease with a tenant, setting out the way in which rent is to be calculated, the timing for the grant of the lease, and dealing with any works that the tenant wants.
  • A funding agreement with the person or company financing the development and/or the ultimate investment owner of the property.

To talk about how we can help, please contact Samantha East or Lisa Mantle.

If you are buying, selling, letting or taking a lease of property you should consider contamination and other environmental issues.

If you are buying or leasing a property you want to be sure that you are not taking on an environmental problem such as toxic substances under the ground or Japanese Knotweed growing on the property.

If you are selling a property you need to be prepared for a buyer to make full enquiries about the environmental position, and be able to answer those questions.

If you are mortgaging your property, your bank, building society or other funder will want satisfactory information about environmental issues.

In conjunction with our environmental specialist lawyers, we will help you consider what action you need to take or draft contracts and leases to clarify responsibility for environmental issues.

If there is an environmental problem consider:

  • Whether you want to carry out further investigations;
  • Who is responsible?
  • What can be done about the problem?
  • Whether you should appoint an expert environmental consultant.

To talk about how we can help, please contact Kathryn Gilbertson.

 

The Legal 500 commends regulatory specialist Kathryn Gilbertson as:

 

“… a leading regulatory specialist.” (2016)

Our nationally-recognised Property Disputes team offers specialist, practical and commercial advice on all problems associated with land and property.

We have a diverse client base ranging from companies with hundreds of properties to manage, either as landlord or as tenant, to individuals with niche investment portfolios.

Our clients include household names in the retail sector, developers, local authorities, social housing providers and other public bodies.

We also act for agricultural clients who farm in hand, as well as those who let their land out or have diversified into other areas.

We value our clients and they reciprocate the investment we show in them by staying loyal to us for many years, sometimes through generations of the same family.

You can expect a responsive and efficient service from the moment you contact the Greenwoods GRM Property Disputes team.

Our focus is resolving your problem according to your specified needs and objectives in a timely, cost effective and efficient way.  Throughout your time with us we will continually review progress as against costs and our original time estimate for completion.

People often associate contacting a lawyer with litigation, but the reality is that today disputes rarely reach court because of the variety of alternative dispute resolution (ADR) procedures available. Examples include mediation, arbitration, adjudication and expert determination.

Our team also provides support to our commercial property experts on issues arising in the course of transactional matters, such as on a sale and purchase or in agreeing the terms of a lease.

When a case crosses over into different areas of law our team taps into the skills and experience of our wider disputes team.

We deal with:

  • Business lease renewals
  • Rent and service charge recovery
  • Dilapidations claims
  • Disputes over breaches of covenant including forfeiture/relief applications
  • Service charge disputes
  • Recovery of land or premises from unlawful occupiers/squatters
  • Injunctions
  • Lease surrender negotiations
  • Disputes over consent to assignment/sub-let/change use/alterations
  • Boundary disputes and disputes over easements (e.g. rights of way, rights to park; rights to light), breaches of covenant, trespass, nuisance, adverse possession.

The team also advises landlords in matters involving residential lettings and has a strong reputation for our work in the social housing sector.

We provide:

  • Prompt, professional and practical advice on all aspects of contentious property matters;
  • Dispute resolution advice that is clear, concise and cost-effective;
  • Expert advice on landlord and tenant disputes;
  • Swift resolution of property management issues, possession proceedings;
  • Economical and effective lease renewals and terminations;
  • And the speedy and efficient resolution wide range of other forms of real estate disputes.

For advice on any disputed property issues, please contact Chi Collins.

 

The Legal 500 commends us for our Property Disputes advice:

 

 

“‘ The service, advice and professionalism is second to none’, according to one client who also rates the firm’s ‘first-class advice and exceptional response times’.” (2018)

Conveyancing services selected on price alone may not always provide the thoroughness and attention to detail required when embarking upon what, for most people, is their most significant investment.

Our specialist residential conveyancing team can ensure that your property transaction progresses speedily to a satisfactory conclusion, with all the ‘loose ends’ taken care of along the way.

Our task is to bring the differing interests and timetables of all parties involved in the transaction to a swift and satisfactory conclusion, reducing the stress and strain of moving home as much as possible.

Our fees are realistic, competitive and represent excellent value in terms of the quality of service and expertise we provide.

We can also assist with negotiating or renewing residential leases from either the landlord or tenant perspective and have well-known and high profile Chi Collins on our team.  Chi is the Head of Property Disputes and is recognised as one of the UK’s leading experts in leasehold enfranchisement.

To talk about how we can help, please contact Zahra Shah

In accordance with SRA Transparency Rules 2018, please click here for information on our approach to fees and service for the sale and purchase of residential freehold or leasehold properties, mortgages and re-mortgages. For information about other areas of work not covered by the SRA Transparency Rules 2018 please get in touch.

We provide specialist legal advice for companies who operate the fast-growing property guardianship model.

Our specialist and experienced team offer a full range of legal services to businesses that use the property guardianship business model. Importantly, we understand how your business model works and all the issues you may encounter.

Our Property Guardianship lead, Kirstie Goulder, has been described as ‘an encyclopaedia of knowledge on the complex issues of property guardianship.’

Property guardianship is a fast-growing alternative housing model in the UK and across Europe. It involves private individuals protecting empty buildings through their occupation. The demand for living space has priced many out of the market, especially in the City. The guardianship model offers these individuals the ability to secure housing for comparatively low cost, and the building owner the security that comes with having someone occupy their property.

Our Advice

Our specialists can assist with:

  • Advisory work and training to educate best practices within the sector
  • Drafting or reviewing standard documents such as licence agreements, terms and conditions and commercial agreements with the property owner
  • Issuing notices to determine and/or warning letters to guardians
  • Commencing trespass proceedings against guardians who fail to vacate on expiry of the notice to determine. In particular we have comprehensive experience of common “licence v tenancy” arguments made by guardians and property guardian agent’s arguments in response. This knowledge and experience is supported by a bespoke case management system which we have developed based on innovative case-scripting technology
  • Advising in respect of enforcement of possession orders or money judgments
  • Dealing with potential commercial disputes with property owners for failure to hand back properties on time
  • Knowledge of HMO and Health and Safety requirements supporting the business model
  • Employment advice for personnel issues

Adding value to your business

As sector specialists, we are able to offer in-house training to ensure personnel at all levels understand how the business model works and best practices to minimise the risk of inadvertently creating tenancies. We will also issue email alerts to clients on matters affecting the sector.

To talk about how we can help, please contact Kathryn Gilbertson.

What is Strategic Land?

Strategic Land is land that has the potential to increase in value either through its “promotion” via the planning system or by virtue of its particular location, and often both. Strategic Land Development is the process of unlocking and realising that extra value by landowners and/or developers.

What do we do?

We advise landowners and developers on all of the legal aspects of Strategic Land Development.  Realising value can be a complex and lengthy process. It requires a detailed understanding of all the issues and experience and legal knowledge of the development, planning and construction processes. Understanding the end product, whether this is a residential housing estate, offices, warehouses or a shopping centre,  means that we can anticipate end users’ requirements from project inception through planning, funding, building and disposal.  Understanding the commercial arguments and legal solutions on both sides of a negotiation keeps the legal discussion focussed and relevant.

Strategic Land team

The Strategic Land team combines over-arching legal experience and specialism in development projects with particular experience in funding, construction, infrastructure and other potentially complex matters.  The specialisms and experience are directly relevant to fully understanding and advising on Strategic Land projects:

  • Lisa Mantle has over 20 years’ experience in development projects.  Acting for large and small residential and commercial developers she is well versed in the complex and collaborative process of strategic land development.  She has a particular interest in electronic communications and rights of light and how they can prevent or delay development if not properly considered.
  • Samantha East brings her extensive funding experience into play, able to anticipate a risk averse funding lawyer’s requirements, making sure when the moment arises there are no hitches to the sale. Sam also provides advice as to how best to take security where there are for example deferred payments or overage

Transactions we cover

  • Promotion agreements
  • Option agreements
  • Conditional planning agreements
  • Pre-emption agreements
  • Overage agreements
  • Landowner consortium/collaboration agreements
  • Developer consortium/collaboration agreements
  • Buying and selling development land

If you would like to know more, please contact Samantha East or Lisa Mantle

Get in touch with us

Interested in finding out more? Use this form to let us know how to contact you and what you’d like to know, and we’ll get back to you.

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