Our leading team advises on a range of issues affecting the ownership, use and occupation of land. We work with our transactional colleagues to structure deals and documents to avoid litigation as well as using our industry knowledge and litigation skills to steer our clients through any dispute which arises through negotiation, mediation, arbitration or the courts.
The team advises national and regional house builders, commercial and residential developers and landowners on the full range of issues that arise out of land assembly and development.
Recent cases include: acting for a consortium of landowners to enforce obligations for the construction of access road and flood alleviation measures; acting for national housebuilder clients in dispute over division of land under Option and Collaboration agreements; acting for national housebuilder company in dispute with landowner concerning positioning and rights to construct off site flood attenuation pond; recovery of deposits held as stakeholder following termination of option agreements, in one case where the other party had gone into liquidation and the liquidator was demanding the deposit; applications to remove restrictive covenants which would otherwise prevent development.
Our expertise extends to advice on avoiding rights of light injunctions, including the use of light obstruction notices and advice as to the extent of rights of way or drainage and whether the existing rights will be sufficient for the proposed redevelopment.
Some of our clients include Persimmon Homes Limited, David Wilson Homes SW, Strongvox Limited, Crest Nicholson SW, Summerfield Developments Limited, Aster Group, Henry Boot Developments.
Disputes involving caravan & holiday parks
We regularly advise on all property related issues including the ability to recover service charges and maintenance charges, on forfeiture and termination, possession and breach of restrictive covenants (which in one case concerned a concessionaire who was seeking to close the landlord’s rival amusement arcade), rent review of amusement arcades and other business sub tenants.
We have secured removal of structures (such as sheds and decking) that had been erected without consent by caravan owners. We have also successfully obtained a possession order for a park owner in which the occupiers of a number of caravans claimed their units had become dwelling houses and acquired Rent Act protection thereby preventing the park from being able to relocate those units and redevelop the park.
We also advise on the ability of a park owner to terminate a Mobile Homes Act agreement and act in bringing claims requiring a mobile home owner to re-site to an alternative pitch.
Clients include: Park Resorts, Away Resorts and The Radian Group.
Adverse Possession & Rectification
The team has been involved in a number of cases involving applications to the Land Registry for adverse possession, with some of the cases proceeding to be heard before the Adjudicator to HM Land Registry. We have advised clients making claims for adverse possession and have also successfully acted for clients defending claims. Recently, we successfully defended a claim for a housebuilder client, persuading the Land Registry to cancel the application.
We also acted for a national charity also defending a claim for adverse possession. The matter proceeded to a full hearing over two days in London before a Deputy Adjudicator to HM Land Registry, when the client was successful and also obtained an order for costs.
In addition we advise on claims for rectification and claiming indemnities against the Land Registry. We have recently advised a private client on whether he may have a claim for rectification or adverse possession and a developer client on its right and ability to make a claim for an indemnity against the Land Registry after they rectified a title without notice to our client who was adversely affected.
Our team specialises in acting on professional negligence claims against professionals involved in both commercial and residential property. Typically we act on claims against solicitors relating to property transactions that have gone wrong and against surveyors where incorrect advice has been given before property is purchased.
We successfully acted for a NHS Trust to pursue a claim against a firm of solicitors, where the solicitors did not serve a break notice under a lease of commercial premises, with the effect that the clients remained liable on the lease for an additional five years.
We successfully acted for a charity against its former solicitors. The charity had taken a lease of land on which it intended to build new premises where its activities would be carried out. The solicitors who dealt with the lease did not secure all necessary access rights.
Electronic Communications Code
Our team acts exclusively for landowners in acting against telecoms operators. We obtain vacant possession from code protected operators to enable land to be redeveloped, serving the appropriate notices and issuing Court proceedings if required. Most disputes are resolved by consent. We also deal with renewal of telecoms operators agreements, advise on the interaction between the Code and the 1954 Act, the validity of break notices served by mast operators, site sharing and the ability of a landowner to refuse consent when they receive a requires for consent from an operator to assignment the agreement to another operators.
We welcome the proposed reforms to the Code. We took part in the Law Commission’s workshop held specifically for practitioners dealing with this area and many of our responses were mentioned in the Law Commission’s Report setting out its proposals to reform the Code. As these reforms will not have retrospective effect our skills in dealing with the current system will doubtless be called upon for some time to come.
Some of our clients include: Pinnacle Towers Limited, The Guinness Trust, Mapeley Estates and PETROC.
Our team has acted for both landlords and tenants on the acquisition of houses, most notably of a house on the Howard de Walden estate, as well as on collective and individual enfranchisement claims relating to flats. Working closely with expert valuers we are invariably able to secure acceptable terms without the need for full Tribunal hearings, although our experience extends to Tribunal hearings to determine both price and other terms of the acquisition.
We are members of LEASE.
Rights to Manage
We advise landowners, receivers, funders and tenants on the ability of leaseholders to bring a claim for the right to manage in conjunction with other options (such as the right to make an application to the Court to Appoint a Manager). We advise on the validity of the initial notice, the grounds for disputing the right, the drafting and service of a counter-notice (if appropriate), the timescales for handover that must be met, the steps that need to be taken and on when existing contracts need to be terminated/handed over to the new manager.
Residential Possession Claims
Together with our colleagues in the housing management team and the business recovery unit we provide a full range of services to residential landlords. We advise on forfeiture of long residential leases and the steps which need to be taken before forfeiture can be effected as well as dealing with possession claims against assured shorthold tenants. Our housing management team acts for numerous housing associations securing possession from a variety of tenants and also deals with ASBOs. Our Managing Agents Recovery System is used by a number of residential agents to recover rent and service charges due from tenants of long residential leases in the private sector.
We have extensive experience of rent review arbitrations and independent expert determinations and regularly advise arbitrators and independent experts. Clients for whom we have acted include, Mapeley, The Audit Commission, WPD, Bath and North East Somerset Council, Somerfield Property Company, Gloucester City Council, and numerous investment companies and individual surveyors.
We work closely with our planning team and act for landowners and developers who have obtained a planning permission which is then challenged by a third party. The landowner and/or developer is usually the Interested Third Party in the proceedings. Our input varies from case to case and generally depends on how bullish the local authority is in dealing with the challenge which has been brought (often by a local interest group).
We acted for Axminster Carpets Limited in R (Save Our Parkland Limited) -v- East Devon District Council and Axminster Carpets Limited (2013) EWHC 22 (Admin) in successfully defeating a claim brought by a local interest group. We also acted in R (SDR) -v- Bristol City Council and Vence LLP/Ashton Vale Project LLP (2012) EWHC 859 (Admin) for the Interested Third Party in which a new claim was allowed to be brought substantially out of time and concerned the Council’s decision to register only part of the land as a village green which would have enabled Bristol City Football Club to build its new stadium.
Acting for investors and occupiers and working closely with our clients’ retained surveyors, we advise on all manner of issues from highly complex dilapidation and repairs claims, to routine lease renewal notices.
Acting for Ansa Logistics we obtained a declaration in High Court proceedings in December 2012 that their landlord had unreasonably refused consent to sub-let to Ford.
We successfully argued on behalf of Avocet Industrial Estates in the High Court that its tenant’s break notice was of no effect because the tenant had failed to pay interest on late paid rent on the break date.
Some of our clients include Ashville Properties, Ashtenne, Hansteen Industrial Fund, The Marcol Group, Mapeley Estates, Fat Face, Brandon Hire, BurgerKing and Pampurred Pets.