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Registered providers - legal services

Stephensons has extensive experience in acting for registered social landlords and housing associations, providing an efficient service without compromising on quality. We act for housing associations nationally, including some of the North West’s leading housing associations, which has provided us with an in depth understanding of the issues and circumstances facing these organisations.

Our experience in the area allows us to adapt and advise on exceptional cases generally bringing them to a conclusion with a positive outcome for our clients. Stephensons is able to provide housing associations with a cost effective solution to the legal issues faced by registered social landlords and housing associations. 

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Rated 4.6 / 5 Based on 2021 reviews
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Why choose Stephensons?

We are used to working with our clients’ in-house legal teams and pride ourselves on being pragmatic and approachable.

Stephensons has delivered  legal services for housing associations for over 30 years. We were one of the pioneers in the 1980’s developing mortgage rescue schemes between housing associations and building societies. We have continued our sector experience throughout, delivering services in an adaptive manner as required by our housing association clients. More recently, we have been the sole appointed panel firm for South Liverpool Homes since 2016. We remain appointed to the Great Places, Torus and NEPO panel framework agreements. We have also sat on the West Yorkshire, Greenfield, and Leeds Housing Federation framework panels for conveyancing.

Our Head of Real Estate, David Baybut sits as Chair and Non-Executive Director on the boards of three housing providers. David also regularly attends a network group, comprising the chairs of regulated social supported housing providers, to share knowledge, process, approach, and solutions to issues facing that housing association group.

Recent cases

  1. We have conducted over 100 right to buy and right to acquire transactions for one medium sized registered provider, utilising a bank of precedent documents, proceeding quickly and cost effectively. A number of these transactions have been complicated by the placement of solar panels on the properties. We have achieved a positive outcome by working with the client to develop a standard form solar panel lease which allows them to retain the solar panels on the property and the benefit of the feed in tariff payments for a period of 25 years following the sale of the property.

  2. For one large housing association, we undertake a considerable amount of site assembly and plot sales work. Typical site assembly falls within a larger housing estate and comprises 30 to 100 units split between affordable rent and shared ownership. As such we have extensive experience of managing site acquisitions with a view to the development for plot sales on shared ownership basis or affordable rent.

  3. Most of our recent larger scale developments have been acquisitions under section 106 Agreements. We have in our fulfilment of our duties, maintained that the section 106 conditions have been adhered to and satisfied by the developer, and that no burden, onerous or otherwise has personally passed on to our registered provider client. 

    On one development, the developer did not yet own the land therefore a section111 agreement was also entered into alongside the s.106, our ensuring that the developer would be solely liable for the costs and obligations in both agreements. To ensure the liability for the contributions was clear the agreements were amended by us to include a robust indemnity to clearly set out the intentions of the parties and the agreement for the developer to bear the costs/contributions under the agreement. Once the s.111 agreement was completed, the planning permission was granted and once the site was acquired by the developer, we assisted our client in respect of completion of the s.106 agreement. We delivered the required outcome to the client.

  4. In a recent trespassing case, our team pursued, an interim injunction in the County Court on behalf of a large housing association. This was to prevent trespass and access to its property by a neighbouring landowner, who sought to create a right of way over our client’s land. The case involved complex property arguments and we were able to settle with the neighbouring landowner on favourable terms, to protect the housing association’s property with an order that the neighbour cannot build any structure on the boundary between the properties or replace the fencing without the prior permission of the housing association.

  5. Rent arrears are a prevalent problem for housing associations. We advised a housing association in respect of a commercial tenant who had persistently fell into arrears of rent. The grounds for forfeiture had been met within the lease, however the client had waived the right to forfeit. We provided practical advice on maximising recovery, based upon the stock in the premises and worked with local bailiffs to regain possession of the premises.

  6. Stephensons successfully assisted a housing provider with evicting tenants. The tenants all benefitted from assured tenancies, providing greater security of tenure, and we were able to validly serve notices seeking possession, followed by providing detailed advice on the eviction process at the County Court. This allowed the housing provider and its Housing department to successfully instigate possession proceedings and ultimately, obtain possession orders against its tenant on the grounds of rent arrears.

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We can assist housing associations in the following areas: 

Property and finance  

Areas of work the team carries out on a regular basis includes, property acquisitions and disposals, landlord and tenant, finance and refinance including grants, portfolio management, corporate support and restructuring work, construction and development, planning, site assembly and both residential and commercial development work including shared ownership and shared equity dispositions, and staircasing.

Dispute resolution

We can assist this sector with, commercial disputes, alternative dispute resolution, construction and adjudication, property litigation (commercial and residential) fraud recovery, insolvency litigation, defamation, injunctions and emergency protective measures, asset tracing and recovery, professional negligence, intellectual property protection and disputes that arise between business owners. 

Housing management 

We are experienced in delivering housing management services including disrepairs, anti-social behaviours, nominations, management agreements, support services, tenancy advice, tenancy enforcement (including debt recovery), possession proceedings, homelessness and asset managements for this sector.

Human resources

This team provides advice to employers and senior staff in relation to HR law and practise. We provide advisory services and insurance for clients, as well as tribunal representation. Our team of six advisers and lawyers act for housing associations. SME clients, insurers, local authorities, trade bodies and member associations. We provide niche insurance solutions to our clients and operate entirely on a fixed fee structure for all services.

Debt collection

This team operates an IT driven debt collection system that provides our clients with a sophisticated and effective debt collection service. All of this work is provided to clients at fixed fees. For all organisations cash flow is key and out housing association clients are no different.

Regulatory discipline

This team provides advice to businesses across a number of sectors. We represent companies and individuals in criminal proceedings (Magistrates and Crown Courts) and also those facing investigation and prosecution by regulatory authorities, for example, the Traffic Commissioner, Environment Agency, Food Standards Agency, HMRC and Vehicle Operator Services Agency. This team carries out intervention work for the Solicitors’ Regulation Authority and prosecutes cases for local authority clients.

Company/commercial

Our commercial advice and deals specialists can assist registered providers with: licencing, joint venture agreements, intellectual property, terms and conditions, agency, confidentiality and non-disclosure agreements, information technology and e-commerce and data protection.

Supported living

Our work in the supported living / sheltered housing sector is among the fastest growing areas of our work in conjunction with Registered Providers. Where other firms might handle a small amount of this work for providers who have supporting living as part of their overall offering, Stephensons’ clients include housing associations which specialise only in supported living matters. Stephensons is now renowned for this complex niche work with a volume and quality of work which we believe to be unmatched among our peers. In these transactions we will liaise closely with funders, local authorities, the housing association and other relevant parties to ensure the planning is obtained, service level contracts and/or nominations agreements are in place, properties are acquired and leases are put in place with the housing association to provide the supported living required. We have an excellent track record in this field for achieving outstanding results for our clients.

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Registered Providers Staff Re-Order

  • David Baybut
  • Louise Hebborn
  • Philip Richardson
  • Julie Ball
  • Chris Graves
  • Paul Davies
  • Julie Hunter
  • Adam Pennington​​​
  • Neil Marshall
  • Declan Gilroy​