Property and development
We assist registered providers with transactions including: acquiring leases, staircasing, enfranchisement, granting leases, lease renewals, lease extensions, lease variations, sales (including forced sales following repossession by mortgagees) & sales under the right to buy & right to acquire schemes. We also assist with the preparation of ancillary documents such as charges, deeds of priority & pre-emption agreements where required. Our experience of acquisitions & disposals includes: acquisitions of portfolio properties, site, development & individual properties. We have an in depth understanding of conditional contract, option agreements, planning & planning agreements & funding arrangements. In addition to the work we do for registered providers we are also appointed by local authorities and quasi government bodies, such as the West Yorkshire framework agreement, for this area of work.
Stephensons has significant experience involving homelessness, housing allocation, challenges to housing authority policy, disrepair and possession cases and advisory/regulatory functions. Stephensons’ specialists regularly appear in court in proceedings and other housing litigation. This litigation experience includes ASBO and ASBI cases in both the Civil and Criminal Courts. We were involved in a pilot scheme with Manchester Council relating to this type of work.
Stephensons has a specialist quality mark from the Legal Aid Agency for housing work. We have been instructed by panel members of the North West Consortium of Local Authorities.
Recent examples of legal activity
1. We act for a newly formed housing association. This client purchased part of a large development site from a national house building company, as a percentage of the site was required to be designated shared equity/shared ownership.
They acquired a freehold interest in a first phase, comprising 5 units, and a leasehold interest in the second phase, comprising 30 units.
We have been instructed to deal with disposals of the 35 units off plan, on a shared equity basis by way of 125 year leases. This has required us to undertake an extensive review of the title documentation (including the transfer under which our client acquired the freehold to the first phase, the lease under which our client holds the second phase and the development agreement under which the units have been/are being constructed) and thereafter draft conditional contracts, long leases, deeds of covenant, bespoke shared equity charges & deeds of priority.
2. We have acted for a group of housing associations for in excess of 20 years. Recent bulk transactions include: general sales, right to buy sales, leases/licences to occupy, assignments, acquisitions & developments, complex lease variations, rent reviews including shops/commercial property, shared ownership, development agreements, tenancy & housing management advice, grant funding, supported housing management agreements & general advice.
In addition to standard instructions, we assist with more complex transactions, for example:
- Varying a 49 leases on one estate following further redevelopment.
- Providing opinion and proposed variations to inherited management agreements.
- A complicated secured grant funding arrangement. This involved the review of management agreements, varying of existing grants & security, preparing new charges, & complicated pre-emption agreements & transfers of part allowing the site to be split.