Commercial Property

Our Commercial Property solicitors offer a comprehensive real estate legal service, working collaboratively with property owners, developers, investors, landowners, landlords and tenants on all aspects of:

  • business premises purchases and sales
  • leasing/renting for landlords or tenants
  • land development and sale
  • financing, secured lending or mortgaging
  • leasehold enfranchisement and lease extensions

We are experienced in dealing with a wide range of property and land types including freehold, leasehold, industrial units, retail premises and land for development.

We carry out work ranging from assisting new businesses taking on their first premises, acting for clients who own a portfolio of properties, as well as disposing and acquiring properties and land for sizable developments.

Our team maintains a strong reputation for a flexible and constructive approach, enabling us to tailor our service to your unique requirements and objectives. We work to ensure that your commercial property transactions go ahead smoothly, quickly and cost-effectively, foreseeing potential problems and taking proactive steps to prevent them from derailing your deals. Where issues do arise, we offer fast, effective solutions to get things back on track as swiftly as possible.

Frances Watts
Partner & Head of Commercial Property
Direct Dial: 0118 920 9499
Acquiring or disposing of commercial property

Our commercial property solicitors regularly assist companies and individual property owners with the acquisition and/or disposal of freehold and long leasehold business premises including:

  • industrial units
  • offices
  • mixed-use properties
  • retail outlets

We act for businesses of all sizes, from sole traders looking to move to larger premises to large companies or investors wanting to expand or dispose of their property portfolio, with vacant possession or subject to occupational leases.

We understand the commercial imperative that lies behind the need for professional legal support in commercial property sales or acquisitions, and we keep the business objectives in front of mind so that our legal advice is credible, cost-effective and practical in their marketplace.

Our commercial property solicitors can:

  • guide you through the due diligence
  • help with negotiations
  • advise you on heads of terms
  • draft the sale contract
  • reach completion and registration of title
  • if applicable, advise on any legal issues that may arise during property ownership

Owning commercial property is a major commitment that brings responsibilities and potential liabilities. You need to be aware of any legal issues which may have an adverse effect on the value of the property or your ability to re-let, sell or finance it in the future.

We are experienced with the legal issues revolving around raising real estate finance and understand the requirements of lenders and the form of security they require. We identify practical commercial solutions to issues that come up along the way and guide you through the process within the timescales required.

Recent commercial property acquisitions and disposals include:

  • Acted for a client entering into an unconditional contract to purchase a development site in Camberley with a simultaneous back to back sale to a third party.
  • Purchase, lease back and secured finance of haulage site in east Reading for £1.8m
  • We acted for an overseas client who purchased 6 properties over a 12-month period across all sections and a wide range of geographical locations for a combined purchase price of £6.9m. Following the purchases, we assisted in drawing down secured finance over all 6 properties and liaised with the bank’s Solicitor.

How we can help

Whether you are a property investor looking to acquire or dispose of commercial property, or a business owner looking for new or additional premises, we can guide you through the transaction with practical, commercial advice, in a language you can understand and timescales that meet your requirements.

The best legal advice is normally given ahead of an issue, rather than in response to it, and we make sure we are up to speed with all legal developments and understand their potential impact on our client’s commercial property deals so they can be prepared and plan accordingly. Contact Frances Watts to see how we can help with your business premises sale or acquisition.

We act for businesses of all sizes, from sole traders looking to move to larger premises to large companies or investors wanting to expand or dispose of their property portfolio, with vacant possession or subject to occupational leases

Land Development

We have the knowledge and experience needed to ensure success in land development and regeneration transactions, and our real estate solicitors are experienced in helping:

  • landowners/land promoters looking to realise the value of their estate
  • property developers, of both residential and commercial schemes
  • property investors looking to invest capital in land

We offer a tailored legal service for all sizes and types of real estate transaction, from large mixed-use schemes to small bespoke residential or industrial developments. The advice we give is clear, timely and above all, practical. We have an experienced commercial property team who can guide a land development project through every stage including:

  • securing finance
  • greenfield and brownfield development sites
  • land acquisition or sale
  • development agreements
  • joint venture and collaboration agreements
  • option and promotion agreements
  • clawback and overage clauses
  • pre-emption rights/ exclusivity agreements
  • restrictive covenants and rights of way
  • infrastructure agreements
  • contractor and construction contracts
  • disposal of completed units.

Balancing the legal and commercial risks in real estate-focused lending transactions is vital, and we are experienced in helping our clients secure finance for their real estate projects. The issues concerning land development can be complex and the values involved can be high, so we provide expert legal advice to ensure that your transaction runs as smoothly as possible and you secure maximum value.

Recent transactions include:

  • Option over development site in Camberley achieving sale at £2.1m with conditional sale to third party following permitted development being achieved for 24 units.
  • Purchase of development site in Maidenhead for £1.1m for development into 9 apartments. Purchased using primary and mezzanine financing.
  • Acted for a local business who purchased land at £1.8m, entered into a lease back to a linked company all with the assistance of secured finance. Acted for the company on all elements of the purchase, lease and advised on the secured finance whilst working with the bank’s solicitors in order to achieve completion.
  • Client entered into option to purchase for site in Wokingham. Following granted of planning permission taking form of permitted development and detailed planning permission for a new building option was exercised and back to back sale on for 5m.

How we can help

Whatever the scope of your land development project, our commercial property team can ensure it is delivered on time and on budget. We collaborate with our clients to offer an end-to-end commercial property service that enhances land values and creates achievable developments. We will always provide clarity when it comes to our pricing structures. For more information on how we could help your land development project at each stage of the process,  please contact Frances Watts.

The legal advice we give is clear, timely and above all, practical. We have an experienced commercial property team who can guide a land development project through every stage

Secured Lending

Our Commercial Property team advises borrowers and lenders on all aspects relating to loan transactions where the primary security is property. We provide secured leading advice for property transactions not only with traditional institutional lenders like banks and building societies but also alternative sources of finance from venture capitalists, trusts and private lenders.

Types of Secured Lending

We have advised on many types of property loan and credit facility agreements including:

  • mezzanine finance
  • syndicated loans
  • bridging loans
  • re-financing
  •  buy-to-let
  • asset-based financing
  • loan facility agreements
  • debentures
  • personal and corporate guarantees

We act for clients who require funding for single property acquisitions as well as those with large property portfolios and are experienced in dealing with commercial lending against a range of securities including:

  • shops
  • offices
  • industrial units
  • land acquisition
  • commercial and residential developments

If you are borrowing money, we can guide you through the process whilst ensuring that the lenders requirements are fully satisfied. We will check the strict requirements of loan documents and make amendments to minimise the risks to you.

We also act on behalf of lenders, advising on the types of security they should consider and helping with negotiation and legal documentation.We can advise on all aspects of secured finance in property transactions including:

  • drafting, providing advice on and registering security
  • preparing, negotiating and agreeing loan documentation
  • undertaking title diligence on commercial and residential properties to be funded
  • funder rights and warranties
  • preparing the finance and sale documentation
  • assignments of rights under development agreements and leases
  • advice for security holders and lenders, receivers and administrators

How we can help

With many years’ experience and expertise in secured lending we can help you minimise any risks. We can guide you safely and securely through your commercial property transaction whilst providing pragmatic advice and understanding the commercial nature of finance deals. We appreciate that lending is often critical to the successful completion of a property deal and are able to work to tight deadlines and time constraints. For more information please contact Frances Watts.

We provide secured leading advice for property transactions not only with traditional institutional lenders like banks and building societies but also alternative sources of finance from venture capitalists, trusts and private lenders

Landlord & Tenant

We understand that every landlord-tenant relationship is unique, but thanks to our many years of experience in this area of law, we can often anticipate many of the issues that could affect a commercial tenancy, allowing us to take proactive measures that save you time and money.

Creating a strong commercial tenancy agreement

  • protects the interests of both parties
  • reduces the potential for any conflict
  • where issues do arise, helps to resolve them quickly and cost-effectively

If you are looking to let your commercial property the form of lease you grant can have a significant effect on the overall value of your asset, and affect the future rental income from that asset. If you are a prospective tenant, the lease you agree to take will contain legally binding obligations and restrictions that may impact on you not only whilst you are a tenant but also your ability to dispose of the lease, sometimes limiting your business exit strategies and options.

We have the understanding of the impact leases have for landlords and tenants, not just initially, but throughout their term, at rent reviews and on termination. We are also experienced in liaising with surveyors, agents and valuers where they are also involved in negotiations. As we act for both landlords and tenants, we are very familiar with what the issues are for both sides and can assist with providing solutions that should be amenable to both parties.

Commercial Property Leases

Whether you are a landlord leasing a property or a tenant renting one, we have an expert team of landlord and tenant solicitors to help before, during and after a commercial tenancy is in place. A commercial lease, like any long term legally binding commitment, requires proper legal advice. We provide a complete and efficient commercial property service, giving clear, cost-effective, and practical guidance on all matters arising from a commercial landlord/tenant relationship, whether at its creation, variation or termination.

Our commercial property services for landlords include:

  • letting a commercial property – granting a lease and drafting heads of terms, advising on title matters, rent and term negotiations and completion of the required paperwork
  • matters during a tenancy – we can help liaise with a tenant should issues arise or they fail to keep to their lease obligations, advise on lease renewals, consent for alternations, rent reviews or assignment/subletting requests
  • ending a lease – we can draft legally enforceable notices to exercise break clauses and lease termination, forfeiture and possession actions, schedule of dilapidations, disputes and rent recovery should a tenant fall in arrears.

Our commercial property services for tenants include:

  • renting a commercial property – review the precise terms of the letting so that you understand your obligations in advance, advice on service charges, help with negotiations with a potential landlord.
  • matters during a tenancy – should you have issues with a property or your circumstances change we can negotiate on your behalf, advise on landlord obligations, requests for alternation or to sublet, lease extensions or restructure, negotiation at rent reviews
  • ending a tenancy – we can let you know what your exit options and liabilities are, assist in dilapidation disputes, help with negotiations with your landlord

Landlord and Tenant Disputes

Where issues do arise, we aim to resolve all landlord and tenant disputes amicably, without the need for court action, wherever possible and our solicitors are highly experienced in Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) including through negotiation and mediation. Where problems cannot be avoided, we have the experience and expertise to put together the strongest possible case and are fully prepared to effectively and robustly represent your interests in court to achieve a fair outcome.

Recent landlord and tenant transactions include:

  • Completed lease from large London Estate in 1 week following substantive damage to clients existing premises following a catastrophic flood. Term of 10 days with passing rent of £182,500. Also dealt with negotiation of surrender of existing lease to allow new lease to be entered into
  • Acted for a local business who were expanding by taking space within a major supermarket. Assisted the client in liaising with Landlord over an agreement for lease, tenants works and lease completion.

How we can help

Our expert Commercial property lawyers have in-depth experience of working with commercial landlords and all types of occupiers across a range of property including retail, offices and industrial. We are able to give clear and practical advice on all the many different aspects of letting and renting commercial property. For more information please contact Frances Watts.

Whether you are a landlord leasing a property or a tenant renting one, we have an expert team of landlord and tenant solicitors to help before, during and after a commercial tenancy is in place

Collective Enfranchisement

Tenants of flats may have the right to club together to collectively buy the freehold of their building, usually through a nominee company. This will depend on whether there is a commercial element to the building, the number of flats in the block, the number of flat owners who qualify, and of those, how many choose to participate.

We can advise whether you have the requisite qualifying criteria for the process of collective enfranchisement and guide you through the process step-by-step. For more information please contact Frances Watts.

We can advise you on collective enfranchisement and guide you through the process

Leasehold Extensions

As a leaseholder you may be entitled to a lease extension of 90 years from the expiry of your current term if you can establish you are a qualifying tenant.

FAQs on Leasehold Extensions:

Why would I want to extend my lease?

The term of your lease decreases each year and many mortgage lenders require at least 65 years left before they will lend on it. If you intend to sell your property it may be harder to sell if you have less than 70 years to run. To extend your lease you can approach your landlord directly or, in some instances, flat owners have a legal right to an extension of their lease.

Am I entitled to a lease extension?

A tenant will be entitled to a lease extension if their lease is longer than 21 years and they have owned their property for 2 years. Most residential blocks of flats qualify but there are restrictions on certain types of property for example mixed commercial and residential buildings. If you are a qualifying tenant you can either enter into informal negotiations with your landlord or serve a notice upon them to confirm the premium you are willing to pay for the lease extension.

How do I extend my lease?

If you are eligible for a lease extension you can enforce your legal right by serving a notice on your landlord to confirm the terms of your proposed lease extension. Your landlord is entitled to an open market premium for the lease extension and you should instruct a suitably qualified surveyor to carry out a valuation in accordance with the statutory formula. It may be prudent to informally approach your landlord to enquire upon the terms on which they would be prepared to offer you a lease extension before a notice is served.

If your informal negotiations with your landlord are not successful a notice can served upon your landlord to confirm the premium you are willing to pay. Once your landlord has received a notice, they must respond within two months in one of the following ways:

  • admitting that you are entitled to a lease extension. Your landlord can either except all of your proposals in the notice including the premium or respond with their own proposals; or
  • disputing your proposal for the lease extension; or
  • stating they intend to redevelop the property.

If your landlord fails to respond to your notice you can make an application to the Leasehold Valuation Tribunal who can make an order requiring the landlord to grant the lease on the terms which were proposed in your notice. If you fail to reach agreement with your landlord following receipt of their counter notice you have up to 6 months to apply to the Leasehold Valuation Tribunal.

What will it cost to extend by lease?

You will be required to pay a premium for the lease extension and also be responsible of the fees of a surveyor to determine this. If you decide to serve a notice on a landlord you will also become responsible for the reasonable professional costs incurred by the landlord.

How can we help?

The area of law around leasehold enfranchisement and lease extensions is complex with a very strict legal process to follow, and advice should be sought at an early stage. Each case is different, requires careful analysis and turns on its own facts. Our solicitors and Legal Executives act for both landlords and tenants and can advise you on the process, assist you with informal negotiations and also the formal notice procedure. For more information please contact Frances Watts.

Leasehold extensions are complex and complicated, and advice is advised at an early stage. Our solicitors act for both landlords and tenants and can advise you on the process, assist you with informal negotiations and the formal notice procedure

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