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Here in the UK, the vast majority of property is bought using the traditional process of viewings with an estate agent, making an offer and then going through the conveyancing procedure with a solicitor. 

However, around 1.3% of all property sold in the UK is done so through auction. * But how does this process differ from regular residential conveyancing? One of our conveyancing solicitors explains the basics here. More...

planning courts

Over recent years, the development industry has witnessed a significant increase in the number of challenges to planning permissions granted by a local planning authority or by the Secretary of State on appeal.

Even when unsuccessful, such challenges have caused significant delays, due to the time taken for the courts to deal with them. Development is delayed for, at best, many months and at worst several years.

The industry should therefore welcome the opening of a specialist Planning Court

The new court should ensure that cases are dealt with more quickly. Another advantage is that its judges will be planning law specialists, which should also lead to better and more consistent decisions.  It is also hoped that more specialist judges will be more inclined to refuse permission for weak challenges to proceed to a full hearing.

Cases will not automatically be heard by the Planning Court however, which will only hear cases that concern planning and environmental issues if they are significant. More...

wales business insider

Howells was recently featured in the most recent edition of Wales Business Insider. In a piece written by Geoff Wright about the rising confidence of property investors in Wales, Mark Hobbs, Managing Partner of Howells, provided his opinion on the sector. 

The article documented the large increase in businesses and individuals looking to invest in the Welsh property market over the previous 6 months. In particular, industrial units are proving popular with investors while increasing amounts of people are choosing to invest in land. Many people are also targeting property to be used by government departments, utility companies and housing associations. 

What’s more, with the property market in London and the South East already looking buoyant, and because it’s possible to buy buildings for less than they cost to build in some areas, other experts are anticipating that growth will spread across the country. More...

The commercial conveyancing team at Howells Solicitors has helped Liberty Marketing, a Cardiff based online marketing agency, purchase commercial premises.

The 2000 sq ft office building formerly belonged to Costain plc and is a part of Cardiff Business Park in Llanishen, North Cardiff.

The premises, bought as an investment by Liberty’s managing director, Gareth Morgan, allows the business to continue its expansion and sees the business move out of the more expensive serviced offices where the company has been for the past 18 months.

Rhidian Hobbs, Partner and commercial property Solicitor at Howells, said "we were only too pleased to act on behalf of Liberty Marketing with the purchase of their first commercial premises and to help them achieve this significant milestone. We guided the client through not only the legal but also some of the practical issues surrounding leasehold commercial premises".

Gareth Morgan commented "Due to the location and the way the property was being purchased, the transaction was not straight forward. Rhidian and the team were very helpful and professional at all times and I couldn't have done it without their help. I am very pleased with how it worked out".

Agreeing the terms of a lease with a prospective tenant prior to drafting the lease will save considerable time and money further down the transaction. If the parties are fully aware of the terms of the agreement it is likely to reduce disputes and consequently avoid delays and further legal costs.

Below is a non-exhaustive list of the points which should be discussed:

Length of Term of the Lease

The term should be fixed for a set period. Tenants now prefer leases to be shorter in length because of the requirement of the Land Registry for registration of leases with terms greater than 7 years and secondly because the Stamp Duty Land Transaction Tax is greater for longer terms.

Security of Tenure – Landlord and Tenant Act 1954

This Act preserves the right of a business tenant to stay in the property at the end of the lease. If the provisions of the Act are not excluded then the tenant will be entitled to remain in occupation at the expiration of the fixed term and have a right to apply to the court for the grant of a new lease.

This is expensive and time consuming, and in certain circumstances the tenant may be entitled to compensation for failing to obtain a new tenancy.

Allowing a tenant access to the premises before legal formalities are completed can also establish security of tenure and invalidate any subsequent agreement to exclude the Act.

Rent & Rent Review

Consider the initial rent and whether there is to be provision in the lease to increase the rent. If so, when and how is the rent reviewed? Rent review provisions are usually by way of reference to an index or the open market value of the premises at the date of review.

Service Charges

The service charge is often a contentious issue whenever a property is divided between two or more tenants. It includes such items as lighting, cleaning common parts, repair and maintenance, security etc.

The service charge can be dealt with by way of an all inclusive rent or by apportioning the charge between the tenants. Advise the Tenant of the likely apportionment and list the services you intend to provide.

Alienation

This restricts the tenant’s ability to assign, or sublet the premises in whole or to sublet any part. Most leases will prohibit the tenant from assigning the lease without the landlord’s consent, allowing the landlord to decide whether the new tenant is suitable and has adequate finances to meet the rent.

On assignment the original tenant will no longer be bound under the original lease once he has parted with his interest. It is therefore wise to insist on an authorised guarantee agreement whereby the original tenant will enter into a guarantee with the landlord.

Guarantors and Rent Deposit

If the financial standing of the tenant is uncertain, a landlord will often require a guarantor and/or rent deposit. Ascertain whether the proposed tenant is an individual or a company. Insist on a guarantor if the tenant is a newly formed company. Alternatively, the landlord can take a rent deposit from the tenant upon which he can draw in the event that the landlord breaches the lease.

Landlord’s Costs

It is not obligatory for the tenant to pay the landlord’s legal costs. Advise the proposed tenant at the beginning that you require him to be responsible for such charges. Instruct a firm of solicitors that specialise in these matters and are able to provide a fixed fee.

If a prospective new tenant is forewarned of these issues your solicitor will be able to complete the lease faster and consequently you begin receiving the rent sooner. This approach also helps to prevent subsequent problems when the term expires or is renewed. Remember that any heads of terms agreed should be clearly expressed to be ‘subject to contract.’

For further advice on commercial property conveyancing, please contact Rhidian Hobbs at Howells Solicitors on 02920 404020 or email rhidian.h@howellslegal.com.

With effect from 15th February 2015 EU Regulations on Consumer Online Dispute Resolution (ODR) allow consumers who bought our services online to submit their complaint via an online complaint portal.

We are required under the regulations to provide our clients the following information:-
  1. Link to the ODR platform - please follow the following link for further information (http://ec.europa.eu/consumers/odr).
  2. Our contact email address in case of a complaint under the ODR regulation – Andrea Coombes andrea.c@howellslegal.com