Social housing: local authorities and registered providers in London

Trowers & Hamlins LLP

Trowers & Hamlins LLP, which is highlighted for its 'market-leading expertise', acts for providers of social housing and local authorities on traditional development projects, mergers, housing management and governance matters. The firm has recently seen an increase in complex transactions that involve both public and private sector stakeholders. The 'extremely knowledgeable' team is adept at advising on joint ventures between housing associations and institutional investors, local authority re-entries into direct housing delivery, as well as commercial development to cross-subsidise affordable housing delivery. National head of affordable housing Tonia Secker has particular experience of advising government agencies, combined authorities and the GLA on funding programmes for the delivery of affordable housing. Sara Bailey, who is the head of the real estate team, is experienced in joint ventures, as well as regeneration and development schemes. Also recommended are the 'formidable' Amy Shaw, 'sector expert' Rob BeileyScott Dorling, Andy Barnard, Paul McDermott and Sharron Webster.

Practice head(s):

Tonia Secker; Sara Bailey

Other key lawyers:

Sharron Webster; Amy Shaw; Andy Barnard; Scott Dorling; Paul McDermott; Rob Beiley; Ian Davis

Testimonials

‘Market-leading expertise on regulatory and other advice provided to registered providers of social housing and local authorities.’

‘Rob Beiley – highly experienced and the sector expert on registering new social housing providers. Accessible and helpful. Authoritative, but also very pragmatic and works closely with clients to identify solutions that work for them. I have always found Rob to be imaginative and more likely than most to come up with novel but workable solutions. Fantastic knowledge of the underpinning law and regulations. Very well networked.  I could make very similar comments about Scott Dorling in relation to local authority housing work. Unparalleled experience and knowledge. He gives the impression of already having dealt with every imaginable problem.’

‘They have significant experience and capabilities in social housing sector. This is beneficial to us as we work with many housing associations and local authorities.’

‘We deal primarily with Amy Shaw. She is extremely good. Very measured and is on hand when needed.’

‘The key strengths of Trowers’ team is in their understanding of the social housing sector and registered providers. Their advice always reflects the social objects and purpose of the sector, balanced with the regulatory requirements.’

‘Ian Davis and Robert Beiley – both particularly responsive and supportive, helping guide us through balancing social objects and regulatory requirements.’

‘The team are professional and extremely knowledgeable and are always well informed about the sector and also the status of our company.’

‘Amy Shaw is thorough, responsive, dedicated and formidable in representing her clients interests.’

Key clients

Homes England

Great London Authority

Peabody Trust

Vistry Partnerships

Hyde Housing Group

Clarion Housing Group

The Guinness Partnership

Sovereign Housing Association

Swan Housing

VIVID Housing

Paradigm Housing Group

Network Homes Limited

Origin Housing

Catalyst Housing Group

Hill Residential

BoKlok

L&Q Housing Trust

Mount Anvil

Residential Secure Income plc

L&G Affordable Homes

QSix

Housing 21

One Housing Group

Cross Keys Homes

Goram Homes

Capital Letters

Westminster City Council

London Borough of Enfield

London Borough of Barking & Dagenham

Slough Borough Council

London Borough of Ealing

Epping Forest District Council

Work highlights

  • Advised Greater London Authority on the development and delivery of the in excess of £4 billion capital grant programme which is intended to contribute to the delivery of at least 82,000 additional affordable homes and contribute to the resolution of the London housing crisis.
  • Advised Hyde Group on its formation of a strategic partnership with global investment firm M&G which will lead to the development of £500 million new affordable homes. Also acted on the £61 million sale to M&G of 422 homes in London and Kent and the management agreement which places long term management of the portfolio back with Hyde.
  • Advised Poplar HARCA on their selection of a joint venture partner for the £1 billion regeneration of the Teviot Estate. The project will deliver up to 2,500 homes and will involve the comprehensive regeneration of the Teviot Estate.

Devonshires Solicitors LLP

The social housing practice at Devonshires Solicitors LLP has a number of key areas of strength, including governance and corporate, real estate and projects, housing management and securitisation. Andrew Cowan and Jonathan Jarvis handle governance work and are experienced in the registration of new for profit registered providers. Banking partner Julian Barker and property charging specialist Sharon Kirkham advise on the financing aspects of mergers. ‘Stand out’ partner Nick Billingham and the ‘invaluable’ Donna McCarthy advise social landlords on contentious and non-contentious matters. Neil Toner, Jonathan Corris and Triya Maicha lead the real estate and projects department having taking over from Paul Buckland. Construction partner Mark London and Elad Yasdi are other key lawyers to note.

Practice head(s):

Andrew Cowan; Jonathan Jarvis; Julian Barker; Sharon Kirkham; Mark London; Nick Billingham; Donna McCarthy; James Dunn; Neil Toner; Jonathan Corris; Triya Maicha; Elad Yasdi

Other key lawyers:

Paul Buckland

Testimonials

‘The team has always demonstrated exceptional knowledge and offered high levels of support particularly when dealing with complex ASB cases in sheltered and supported housing. The team’s greatest strength is always being available, always willing to listen and always offering the most appropriate and proportionate approach in dealing with complex issues.’

‘Donna McCarthy is our lead legal advisor in the team and her passion for social housing never seems to diminish! Her support is always unwavering as is her ability to consider every minute detail of cases presented to her.’

‘This is a great partnership that uniquely offers the social housing provider a one stop shop in terms of advice and client management, I think what is particularly helpful is the way the different disciplines work together to ensure a seamless service where work crosses over different fields. I think they have also worked well to make sure real experts are available to assist if issues become more complex.’

‘Nick Billingham – Has an outstanding ability to take recent changes in the law and apply them to how people in the social housing field would be impacted, I have clear confidence that we are being fully supported when any of his team are dealing with our cases. Mark London – Have worked closely to ensure our residents interests are protected in the complex field of fire safety and freehold interests.’

‘An outstanding social housing practice. All the best clients and amazing solicitors. They can cover all bases and have superb knowledge.’

‘All of the partners are very good; however, two stand out for me: Nick Billingham and Donna McCarthy. ‘

‘Jon Corris’ clarity, and ability to cut to the chase diplomatically, are hugely valuable characteristics.’

Key clients

Aldwyck Housing Group (now Catalyst Housing Group)

St Martin of Tours Housing Association

Jewish Community Housing

VIVID

M&G Investments

Home Group

Bromford Housing Association

Sage Housing

Clarion Housing Group

Swan Housing

Cadwyn Housing Association

Pobl Group

Accord / GreenSquare

Work highlights

  • Acted for Swan Housing on the Better Queensway Project, which is a 1600 home joint venture with Southend Borough Council, delivered through a newly established Limited Liability Partnership, set to span 30 years.
  • Acted on the creation of the Greener Futures Partnership, a coalition of 5 registered providers which collectively own over 300,000 homes. The partnership will collaborate on decarbonisation solutions and improve energy efficiency within the sector.
  • Acted for St Martin of Tours Housing Association Limited in an action for judicial review of the London Borough of Islington’s decision to suspend placements to St Martin of Tours Supported Accommodation Facilities and their failure to comply with the Pan London Safeguarding policies and procedures and that they misdirected themselves in respect of function of Section 42 of the Care Act 2014. The matter was compromised between the parties following mediation.

Anthony Collins Solicitors LLP

At Anthony Collins Solicitors LLP, the 'truly excellent' Jonathan Cox is the national head of the housing team, which advises registered providers and local authorities on mergers, group restructures, special purpose vehicles, housing management, joint ventures and all aspects of funding. The group recently authored a Building Safety Workbook, an audit tool for social housing providers in preparation of changes to the regulatory environment for residential buildings. Lucy Worrall and Peter Hubbard are active in various major projects, including site acquisitions and regenerations. Douglas Mullen, Phil Scully and Ramjeet Kandola made partner in 2020.

Practice head(s):

Jonathan Cox

Other key lawyers:

Peter Hubbard; Lucy Worrall; Helen Tucker; Baljit Basra; Andrew Millross; Phil Scully; Ramjeet Kandola

Testimonials

‘Their long-term, in-depth knowledge of and expertise in the sector is incomparable.’

‘Jonathan Cox and Helen Tucker are truly excellent.’

‘The ACS team provide a consistently reliable service, offering both proactive and responsive aspects which help us achieve our aims and objectives in an efficient manner.’

‘ACS colleagues regularly demonstrate quality in customer service and a broad scope of technical knowledge. When we’ve been working collaboratively alongside advisors from other organisations (such as tax or audit), the ACS team have always supported those conversations in a professional manner.’

‘Good knowledge about the sector. Willing to act and respond quickly. Offer good value for money.’

‘Lucy Worrall is my contact at Anthony Collins. She is attentive, supportive and provides good advice. She knows the sector well and has a good reputation.’

‘Anthony Collins has a friendly and approachable team, which is extremely responsive to any requests for advice.’

Key clients

Citizen Housing Group

Curo Places Limited

Futures Housing Group

One Manchester Limited

Walsall Housing Group

Bromford Housing Group

Thirteen Housing Group

Livv Housing Group

Rooftop Housing Group

Clarion Housing Group

The Riverside Group

The Guinness Partnership

Wulvern Housing Limited

Salix Homes Limited

Trafford Housing Trust Limited

Irwell Valley Housing Association

Hyde Housing Group

Thrive Homes

Watford Community Housing Association

Work highlights

  • Acted for Curo in the Court of Appeal after a hearing to allow new services to be introduced in tenancy agreements: the appeal was successful.
  • Advised Rooftop on the funding aspects of the merger of its two operating subsidiaries (Rooftop Housing Association and Rooftop Homes).

Bevan Brittan LLP

Bevan Brittan LLP's full-service social housing practice offers 'a seamless service from associate up to partner' advising on corporate governance, finance, property development and housing management. The 'collaborative and solution-focused' team is noted for its work on joint venture schemes and has additional experience in section 106 and “golden brick” acquisitions, as well as shared ownership sales. Louise Leaver has taken over as head of housing from Jonathan Turner, who continues to advise on housing-led development and regeneration schemes. Housing lead partners Wendy Wilks and Andrew Shaw act for both for-profit and not-for-profit registered providers covering property development, finance and mergers.

Practice head(s):

Louise Leaver; Wendy Wilks; Andrew Shaw

Other key lawyers:

Jonathan Turner

Testimonials

‘Bevan Brittan have brought a coordinated multidisciplinary approach to our project and have readily drawn on and coordinated advice from colleagues to ensure a holistic view is provided.’

Key clients

London & Quadrant

Sage Housing

Peabody Group

Places for People Group

Catalyst Housing Group

Orbit Homes

Hyde Housing

Network Homes

Vivid Homes

Sanctuary Group

Sovereign Housing

London Borough of Barnet

London Borough of Brent

London Borough of Ealing

London Borough of Hounslow

London Borough of Newham

Work highlights

  • Assisted Sage Housing, a newly acquired client, the largest “for profit” housing association in the UK funded by private equity, with its rolling programme to acquire 5,000 new affordable housing units each year from a variety of national housebuilders and smaller local developers.
  • Advised Peabody Land Limited on its joint venture with Lendlease to deliver over 11,500 new homes over 40 years, with a development value of circa £8billion, which includes constructing a new Docklands Light Railway (DLR) tunnel extension under the River Thames to serve the new homes.
  • Acted for Catalyst Housing Limited on the transfer of engagements from Aldwyck Housing to Catalyst in accordance with the statutory process set out in the Co-operative and Community Benefit Societies Act 2014, following their recent merger with which the firm also assisted.

Capsticks LLP

Capsticks LLP provides clients with 'a wealth of practical advice and guidance' on property development, housing management, finance, security charging and litigation. The team is lead by Chimi Shakohoxha, who specialises in advising on bespoke private developments using joint ventures and land-led development to create new housing. Daniel Skinner advises social landlords on matters pertaining to anti social behaviour, shared ownership and leaseholds, and is 'excellent on bankruptcy matters'. 'Massively hard working' associate Helen Gascoigne specialises in tenancy fraud cases and anti-social behaviour matters.

Practice head(s):

Chimi Shakohoxha; Daniel Skinner

Other key lawyers:

Helen Gascoigne; Katrina Robinson

Testimonials

‘They are very much a “go to” firm with a great track record.’

‘The three stand-out individuals are Daniel Skinner, Helen Gascoigne and Katrina Robinson. Daniel is peerless when it comes to social housing and property, in particular housing associations. His legal knowledge is ever impressive and allied to a superb client care instinct. Helen is simply a joy to be instructed by. She is massively hard-working, 100% reliable and hugely respected by her clients and those she works with. Katrina has recently joined Capsticks and has a real instinct for the area, allied to impressive experience. She is especially impressive in the social housing fraud field.’

‘The practice has provided us with a wealth of practical advice and guidance in relation to security charging and have been on-hand through-out our project to demystify the legal requirements of this complex process. Strengths include in-depth knowledge of the housing market and regulatory environment.’

‘Excellent team, extremely knowledgeable, can cover all bases. One of the best social housing firms around.’

‘Daniel Skinner – the best housing practitioner around. Knows all there is to know about housing law. Excellent on bankruptcy matters and service charges too. Helen Gascoigne – a rising star. So much knowledge and experience. Really great client care.’

‘They have extensive knowledge of the sector and deal with contracts expeditiously and at a reasonable price.’

‘The entire team are not only knowledgeable, often suggesting practical solutions to legal problems. They are also aware of the pressures faced by social housing landlords which provides them with much need insight. Importantly for me, the team is accessible and all members are a pleasure to work with.’

Key clients

Gateway Housing

Poplar HARCA

Southern Housing

Stonewater Housing

Moat Homes

London & Quadrant

Soha

Sovereign

Ocean

Raven

Work highlights

  • Advised Optivo on the acquisition of 144 section 106 affordable housing units at South Eden Park Road, Beckenham.
  • Acted for Stonewater on the acquisition of 731 tenanted homes from another housing association. Advised on several key issues, including health & safety considerations, TUPE, contract transfers and grant liabilities. Also had to advise on the impact of Covid restrictions on the proposed completion dates. The case is significant not only in value (£46m) but the transaction included homes for more vulnerable residents who are supported by care packages.
  • Successfully advised Poplar HARCA on its response in the Upper Tier Tribunal to an appeal by the Information Commissioner to a First Tier Tribunal decision that housing associations are not subject to the Environmental Information Regulations. This case is of real significance to the social housing sector area as it is now binding case law on the extent to which housing associations are subject to the Environmental Information Regulations, as the Information Commissioner believes they should have been.

Pinsent Masons LLP

Pinsent Masons LLP has a strong track record advising local authorities and registered providers on regeneration and development projects, acquisitions and disposals, joint ventures and housing management. The 'experienced and knowledgeable' team advised HM Treasury on its public/private joint venture guidance for local authorities and it is experienced in setting up complex mixed-tenure housing schemes. Practice head Anne Bowden has acted on significant housing schemes across various London boroughs. David Meecham regularly acts for Homes England and Nick McDonald has experience of site assembly and vacant possession matters.

Practice head(s):

Anne Bowden

Other key lawyers:

David Meecham; Nick McDonald

Testimonials

‘They work well together as a team and have a very good means of providing cover on a very wide range of legal disciplines.’

Key clients

Homes England

Westminster City Council

London Borough of Lambeth

London Borough of Haringey

Galliford Try Partnerships

Lovell Partnerships

Countryside Properties

London Borough of Wandsworth

London Borough of Hackney

London Borough of Brent

London Borough of Barnet

London Borough of Southwark

London Borough of Hounslow

London Borough of Redbridge

Southampton City Council

Clarion Housing Group

Work highlights

  • Advised the London Borough of Wandsworth on their two largest Council estate regeneration projects, delivering 3500 homes with an end value of over £1bn.
  • Advised the London Borough of Haringey on its High Road West housing regeneration scheme, which will deliver 2500 new home (including 850 affordable homes) in a scheme valued at up to £1bn.
  • Advising the Bristol City Council on its Hengrove Park housing development, which will deliver 1200 new homes on a key south Bristol site over the next ten years.

Clarke Willmott LLP

Clarke Willmott LLP acts for registered providers on social housing matters concerning development, regeneration, construction, housing management and litigation. On the contentious side, the team provides 'robust advice' on commercial lease issues, possession claims and fire safety matters. The 'outstanding' Vicky Kells and Lindsay Felstead are the joint national social housing sector leads. 'Stand out partner' Kate Silverman leads the London social housing offering. Kary Withers is the head of litigation, while Oliver Smedley leads the social housing property and development team.

Practice head(s):

Lindsay Felstead; Vicky Kells; Oliver Smedley; Kary Withers; Kate Silverman

Other key lawyers:

Beverley Pike; Henry Russell; Simone Protheroe

Testimonials

‘The team collaborated really well bringing on board appropriate specialists within the practice to provide additional advice. The practice ensured client interests were prioritised at all times and risks were appropriately managed. The advice provided was concise and enabled robust decision making.’

‘The solicitor I dealt with was a specialist in the area of our requirement. In addition the solicitor was excellent at negotiation and mediating with the other party and pressed hard to ensure our interests were protected. The stand out partner for us was Kate Silverman.’

‘The practice has a specific social housing team with excellent cross-department links to other teams to enable efficient and robust advice.’

‘Vicky Kells is outstanding for her in-depth knowledge of the housing market, but she also has the capacity to apply commercial advice to the legal advice.’

‘They have been invaluable in providing advice, feedback and support helping us navigate through a new area of work.’

‘I have principally worked with Beverley Pike and her team, and also Kary Withers and Henry Russell, all of whom have demonstrated they comprehensively understand our context as a social housing provider, have steered us through new legislation and also providing timely advice on emerging precedent case law. In building this relationship we have gained a much better understanding, been able to respond effectively and secure our position.’

‘For me, the great thing is their ability to draw in experts across the legal spectrum to meet a specific requirement – planning law, litigation, land and acquisition, building contract. Our contact on a day to day basis seems to deliver this seamlessly acting as our account manager/point of contact.’

Key clients

Peabody Trust

Clarion

Metropolitan Thames Valley

Notting Hill Genesis

Optivo

London & Quadrant Housing Trust

One Housing Group Limited

bpha

Sovereign

Work highlights

  • Advised One Housing Group on the Ladderswood Estate regeneration scheme in the London Borough of Enfield. The Ladderswood Estate will comprise 500 new homes, a community centre, new hotel and commercial space and include a green district heating system forming part of the Lee Valley Heat Network. Handled One Housing Group’s acquisition of the affordable housing in each phase and subsequent transfer of the management of the estate to One Housing.
  • Acted for Harlow Council in a robust defence to a disrepair claim, which resulted in nominal damages being awarded, successfully reduced the claimant solicitor’s costs that the client had to pay from £10,000 to £3,000.
  • Advised Orbit on the sale of a portfolio of 197 shared ownership properties, including due diligence to establish whether there were any title, planning or other restrictions which would prevent the sale outside the social housing sector or which might prevent “for-profit” registered providers from bidding.

TLT

TLT, which predominantly acts for registered providers, is strong across a number of key areas, including real estate and planning, tax, property litigation, procurement and construction. Practice head Linda Convery is particularly knowledgeable about the social housing sector's regulatory framework. Real estate specialist Shazia Bashir has a focus on development acquisitions, disposals and funding, while legal director Hugh James is experienced in shared ownership sales.

Practice head(s):

Linda Convery

Other key lawyers:

Hugh James; Shazia Bashir

Key clients

Network Homes Limited

Southern Housing Group Limited

The Guinness Partnership Limited

Peabody Trust

London and Quadrant Housing

London Borough of Waltham Forest

One Housing Group Limited

Network Housing Group

Notting Hill Genesis

London & Quadrant (L&Q)

Swan Housing Group

Work highlights

  • Acted for London & Quadrant Housing on the purchase of the next phase at Elephant Park. This comprised the purchase of 100 flats. This is one of the largest regeneration schemes valued at circa £1.5bn pounds and will contribute to much-needed affordable housing in London.
  • Acted for Network Homes Limited on an acquisition which will provide 100 affordable units and over 1,700 square metres of commercial space. This was an important acquisition for Network because it will deliver 100% affordable housing.
  • Acted for the London Borough of Waltham Forest on the regeneration of the Score Centre, Leyton to deliver 715 new homes, shops, a café, a health hub, a new civic square and a new five indoor court leisure centre with community rooms and a nursery.

Forsters LLP

The social housing department at Forsters LLP advises on a full range of matters for clients, including land acquisitions, developments and onward sales, as well as disputes. The practice offers 'a unique combination of expert legal services balanced with a commercial understanding', particularly when advising on the development of large mixed-use development sites and regenerations. Anne O’Neil and Sara Branch jointly lead the team.

Practice head(s):

Anne O’Neill; Sara Branch

Other key lawyers:

Jonathan Preece

Testimonials

‘The social housing team at Forsters understand the complexities of social housing, the nuanced relationship between social purpose, regulation and commercial performance. The team at Forsters are second to none in the quality of the advice and the expert drafting of agreements and contracts. Forsters has a true team, they understand that to succeed all must contribute at the highest level and like all great teams they have their star performers.’

‘Anne O’Neill is my go to lawyer, she gets things done. Anne has the ability to find a clear path through the most difficult issues and secure a consensus. Anne is an excellent communicator and a first-class lawyer. Sara Branch is an excellent negotiator with great commercial acumen. Sara has the legal craftmanship to put you in the best possible commercial position while ensuring all regulatory obligations are nailed down.’

‘The real estate team provide a unique combination of expert legal services balanced with a commercial understanding of both our organisation and each individual transaction. Taking the time to understand the client commercial goals has been fundamental to many successful negotiations. The commercial savvy and negotiation skills are underpinned by top-class legal knowledge and advice.’

‘Anne O’Neill, Jonathan Preece, Sara Branch. All three are excellent communicators whether it is chairing large rooms or page turning complex documents to clients. They are expert negotiators and always available.’

‘Forsters’ residential team have provided advice to us, in various guises, for over 20 years and are our first port of call for complex residential transactions and joint ventures. Forsters know our business very well and understand our key drivers and limitations. continuity of staff has been exceptional, which saves a lot of time and effort.’

‘Anne O’Neill, Sara Branch and Jonathan Preece are excellent lawyers who provide not only well thought out legal advice, but also practical opinions as to the best solutions.’

‘The partners have excellent experience of advising registered providers on development transactions. They understand our processes/needs and tailor their service to accommodate them. The team works effectively and efficiently, is readily accessible and focused on finding solutions for their clients.’

‘Sara Branch and Anne O’Neill are highly experienced solicitors and are leaders in their field. They are professional, approachable and responsive, and their knowledge of housing development is unparalleled. They are excellent negotiators and adopt a strategic and problem-solving approach to issues.’

Key clients

Armada 1 South Development LLP

Chobham Farm North LLP

Gallions 2A Development LLP

Gallions 2B Development LLP

Hastoe Housing Association

Notting Hill Genesis (Notting Hill Housing Group merged into this entity)

Project Light Development 1 Limited

Project Light Development 2 Limited

TLD Kidbrooke LLP

Spray Street Quarter LLP

Work highlights

  • Acted for longstanding client Menta Regeneration on a £250m regeneration project adjacent to East Croydon Station. The project involves the construction of two 25 storey towers comprising 338 flats and ancillary commercial space, as well as 188 affordable housing units.
  • Acted for Notting Hill Genesis on the disposal of a seven-acre mixed-use commercial retail and residential development site with planning for in excess of 1,000 residential units at Canada Water Dock, Southwark to a German investor.

Womble Bond Dickinson (UK) LLP

Womble Bond Dickinson (UK) LLP's social housing practice covers matters ranging from development and regeneration projects to finance transactions, stock rationalisations and transfers, and governance issues. In addition, it assists clients with contentious housing and property matters. John Ralph, Julia Field and Nigel Emmerson co-head the team, which advises traditional and LSVT housing associations, councils, charities and for-profit registered providers.

Practice head(s):

John Ralph; Julia Field; Nigel Emmerson

Key clients

Karbon Homes Limited

Bernicia Group

Places for People Homes

Home Group Limited

Royal Masonic Benevolent Institute

Work highlights

  • Leading advisor to Karbon Homes in relation to its ongoing development programme.
  • Acted for the Bernicia Group on a range of tenancy management issues including claims to possession, injunctions to tackle anti-social behaviour, committals for breach and defending housing disrepair claims.
  • Acted for Places for People Homes in relation to its ongoing development programme including acquisitions of sites, development agreements and the acquisition of units from house builders fulfilling their section 106 obligations