This case study demonstrates the expertise of our Commercial Property & Development team who advised Weald Estates Limited on landlord and tenant issues, property development and acquisitions. Weald Estates is a privately owned property investor company who invest in properties where they can add value by regearing or redeveloping.
An important aspect of our advice to Weald Estates is looking at the title of properties they are interested in acquiring with a view to identifying legal problems and suggesting practical solutions at an early stage. It is commercial and expert legal advice which can prevent a client from making expensive mistakes or which can place a client in a better commercial position to negotiate a purchase than they would otherwise have been.
In one recent transaction Weald Estates were purchasing a block of shops. The property was subject to five separate business leases of each shop under which each of the tenants had statutory rights to remain in occupation at the end of their leases under an act called the Landlord & Tenant Act 1954. The seller had served valid notices under that Act to bring those leases to an end and it was expected that each of the tenants would vacate prior to completion of the sale to Weald Estates but not before exchange of contracts. If the tenants were still in occupation on completion Weald Estates would have the right as landlord to pursue those tenants for any arrears of rent or dilapidations but not if the tenant had actually vacated. To protect the position of Weald Estates, we obtained from the seller a legal assignment of the seller's rights and the benefit of all the tenant covenants in the leases. This meant that Weald Estates could act directly against each of the tenants for any disrepair or other breaches of covenant which they would not otherwise have been able to do without involving the seller.
Another recent acquisition by Weald Estates concerned the purchase of a commercial property with residential development potential at the rear. The key issue related to the exact nature of rights of way which benefitted the property and which were adjacent to the area at the rear of the property which was to be developed. By examining the title deeds at an early stage, we were able to identify that the rights of way were very limited in scope and permitted access over an adjacent private roadway which was therefore not publicly adopted, only for purposes in connection with the existing use of the main property. This would be insufficient to allow adequate legal rights of way for further development. Focusing on this crucial point early in the transaction allowed Weald Estates to make an informed financial decision as to whether or not to proceed.
"It is reassuring to work with commercially minded lawyers who are able with pertinent and clear advice at an early stage to help us achieve our commercial objectives. We value the support provided by Thomson Snell & Passmore throughout our acquisitions and disposals." Brian Cradick, Brian Cradick & Co (Property Agent for Weald Estates Limited).