What I do

posted on 02.02.2015 by Peter Scholl

I provide a specialist legal service exclusively in relation to English property (real estate) law and matters to private and commercial clients. My clients include individuals and companies.

My services include:

Moving home?
Almost everyone does, sooner or later – particularly in an around London.

Which is why conveyancing and other aspects of the buying and selling a house or flat form such an important – and satisfying — part of my work for clients.

For all concerned, it’s an exciting time, full of hope and anticipation.

And, potentially worry.

It’s my job to minimise any stress for you by helping to achieve your targets and keeping you as informed as you want to be every step of the way.

In negotiations with solicitors acting for other parties, my aim is always to strike a delicate balance: cooperating as far as possible to avoid conflict but always acting in your best interests – which includes pressing for all the information you need and guiding you through it, including the results of your survey.

Price and Service Information for Residential Conveyancing may be seen by clicking here. But you are also welcome to contact me to discuss these matter before or after consulting that page.

Extending your lease
Many of my clients are individual leaseholders (including companies and trusts) who want to extend the lease of a flat.

The law has entitled most leaseholders to do that since 1993, allowing tenants of residential flats to add 90 years to the length of their existing leases without having to pay a ground rent. The main conditions are that the lease was originally granted for more then 21 years and that you have owned the flat for a minimum of two years.

But extending a lease isn’t always that straightforward.

In fact, court and tribunal decisions and subsequent legislation have complicated matters. So has the momentum of the property market, with buyers often wanting extended leases as a condition of purchase rather than waiting the statutory two years. The requirements of mortgage lenders – many of whom won’t do a deal without at least 70 years remaining on the lease – also have to be considered.   And extending any lease of less than 80 years’ duration can be costly.

Overcoming these hurdles requires experience and expert advice.

It may all look quite overwhelming but it is not. I have successfully completed several lease extension over the years.

Enfranchisement (helping leaseholders acquire the freehold of their block of flats communally)
Legislation in 1993 also gave the majority of flat owners in a residential block the right to buy the freehold of that property.

This applies to individual owners and companies, provided that they don’t own more than two flats in the block.

While no minimum period of ownership applies to flat owners, there are also detailed provisions regarding procedure and valuation. Continuing legislation and legal decisions have made the whole thing more complex.

But enfranchisement can still be worth pursuing. Advantages include:

  • Owner control of communal areas and service charges
  • The right of owners to manage the property themselves or to appoint their own managing agent
  • The potential to abolish ground rent
  • The ability to bring leases up to date and extend their duration without paying any premiums

A successful enfranchisement is almost as satisfying for me as it is for the newly empowered property owners.

Exercising the right to manage
For some flat owners, exercising the right to manage is a top priority; providing a degree of independence and control without going as far as enfranchisement. Moreover, you don’t have to prove bad management on the part of the existing service provider to start the process.

While the procedural aspects are similar to enfranchisement, there is no need to buy anyone out and you don’t become entitled to extend your lease.

The first step is for flat owners as a group to find out if they qualify. I can advise on this and also help to incorporate the right sort of company for the purpose. On winning the right to manage, the company receives management responsibilities from the landlord. At that point, flat owners, through the company, can then either manage the block themselves or pay a managing agent to work on their behalf.

For more information on this, click here

First refusal when a landlord wants to sell
Suppose your landlord wants to sell all or part of your block of flats.

What are your rights?

Communally, you could be entitled to the right of first refusal for the freehold, on terms no less favourable than the landlord is seeking from someone else. This holds true if the sale is by private deal, auction or some other means of disposal.

And if your landlord disposes of any freehold interest without following the required procedures, you may even be able to undo the deal to allow you and other leaseholders to obtain the freehold on identical terms.

Once have acquire the freehold of your block of flats - what next?
First, you celebrate. Then, it’s wise to consider the opportunities – and problems – that might arise.

For instance, what about the leases? They need careful review at this stage and you might need to take decisions about changing some provisions or extensions.
How will you manage the property and who will deal with any management issues?

Do the new company directors need to do anything to comply with the landlord’s obligations or statutory requirements?

Are there any issues of personal liability?

What about conflicts of interest?

Who keeps the statutory registers and issues share certificates?

And there are lots of other issues to consider as well. Like complaints about noise through wooden floors, electronic key fob problems, rowdy parties by under-tenants, bikes and prams in the hallways and that stream of men in raincoats visiting the basement flat…

You get the idea.

I can provide the experience and advice to make it all manageable.

Buying the freehold of a house
Anyone – individual or company – who has a lease on a house may be entitled to purchase the freehold.

The only provisos are that the original lease was for more than 21 years and the leaseholder has held the lease for more than two years.

If you’re in that position – either as leaseholder or freeholder – and the lease is for 80 years or more, the calculation of the premium due the landlord is fairly straightforward.

Mixed use buildings
Some laws apply to blocks of flats

Others are aimed at commercial premises.

Still others are applicable to telecommunications quarters.

Yet more are geared to other specific uses.

So what happens when one building is dedicated to two or more uses?

It’s a good question.

It’s my job to know the answers – and help you work within the law whether you’re a tenant or a landlord.

Acting for landlords
If you’re a landlord, you also have rights. And I can help protect them.

My role can include responding to leaseholder applications for freehold acquisitions, lease extensions or the right to manage.

Service charges
Too high?

Too low?

It depends on your point of view.

I advise landlords, tenants and management companies in relation to service charges.

Tenancy agreements
Perhaps you want to let your own house or an investment property.

Or maybe you’re about to rent a property and want the security of a thorough legal review of the lease.

In either case, I can help.

Investment property
Whether you’re buying or selling a residential or commercial property, I can advise you on the legal pitfalls to avoid and the opportunities to seize.
Commercial transactions
I provide legal services to commercial landlords and tenants when they want to let or rent offices or other commercial premises such as shops, offices, hotels and car parks as well as mixed use buildings.

This is a long-standing part of my practice, which means that I have guided some clients through their first commercial leases and many subsequent renewals. For others, I have negotiated the move to larger premises or acquired commercial freeholds as part of their pension planning.

Key aspects of commercial work include rent reviews, lease assignment procedures, arrangements for alterations or additions, change of use, operating break clauses and granting under-leases.

I take a hands-on approach to all of this work, invariably visiting the land and buildings my clients own or want. It’s the best way to become familiar with the specific issues of a case.

Other services?
My practice covers the entire range of commercial and residential landlord and tenant issues.

Which means that whatever questions or concerns you might have, I’m happy to talk them through with you.