Social housing in North West

Brabners LLP

Brabners LLP's 30-strong team provides a comprehensive range of services to regional and national registered providers, with its work including advice on acquisitions and disposals, banking and securitisation, dispute resolution, governance, housing management and litigation. Alistair Fletcher (who heads up the social housing specialism) and Ian Alderson (who leads the housing and regeneration department) lead on a number of the firm's relationships with major clients. Angela Clearkin is a name to note on the development side, while Rupert Gill advises registered providers on governance issues. Josephine Morton (who is a 'class act') is experienced in contentious housing management issues. Lisa Robotham handles matters related to securitisation, commercial leases and developments.

Practice head(s):

Alistair Fletcher; Ian Alder; Angela Clearkin; Lisa Robotham; Andrius Roos; Peter Barlow

Other key lawyers:

Rupert Gill; Josephine Morton; Zoe Glacken

Testimonials

‘Ian Alderson and Josephine Morton are the two individuals I would recommend by name. Both experienced and well regarded, they have a strong, loyal client base and are well respected by the courts.’

‘Brabners are a trusted and well respected company. They are able to offer a range of services including construction, property and employment advice. This diversity is essential while maintaining the quality of advice and service.’

‘Brabners are excellent at tailoring advice to meet our strategic needs. They know our organisation well and advise accordingly in line with our risk appetite. A key strength compared to other firms is around their ability to get the job done – there is no billing culture to maximise income as some other firms seem to operate – much more collaborative and considerate.’

‘Alistair Fletcher & Andrius Roos – give the right level of detail and can speak in plain English (massively beneficial when dealing with complex cases). Both also take a genuine interest in cases and want to do the right thing. Lisa Robotham – gives clear and concise advice and operates efficiently.

Rupert Gill – commercial. Understands relationship between regulated entities, their regulator and commercial activity. accessible and proactive in problem solving with great cross sector knowledge.’

‘They are the stand-out firm on circuit. Each case is prepared with meticulous detail and tactical prowess. Their relationships with their clients are second to none because being the very best demands the best standards. The team are charming, supremely intelligent but with a down to earth user-friendly nature about them.

‘Josephine Morton is a class-act, through and through. Her knowledge of housing matters is up there with the best in the business. She leaves no stone unturned when preparing her cases and she has zero blind spots when considering things from a tactical point of view. She is undoubtedly one of the finest operators in the field of social housing law.’

Key clients

Torus62 Limited

Redwing Living Limited

Leasowe Community Limited

Hilldale Housing Association Ltd

Your Housing Group

Plus Dane Housing Limited

North West Housing Services Ltd (NWHS) and various housing co-operatives

Regenda Limited

Castles & Coasts Housing Association

Polish Housing Association

Work highlights

  • Acted for Torus62 Limited on the £24m acquisition of a development site, with partners specialising in property, planning and construction matters working together.
  • Acted for Regenda in respect of the incorporation of NCRC within the Regenda Group completing at the end of last year and the transfer of Trafford Hall completing this month following express consent from the Charity Commission. Advised on charity law, governance, title and planning issues arising on the transaction.
  • Acted for Redwing in securing an access injunction in the County Court at Liverpool against a leaseholder refusing to allow access for the installation of a fire alarm system.

Forbes Solicitors

Forbes Solicitors‘ team, which is praised for its ‘unique blend of professionalism and customer support’, remains at the forefront of developments in the social housing market, having been the first in the country to secure a ‘coronavirus injunction’. Stuart Penswick leads the housing litigation group, with particular strengths in housing management, asset management and leasehold. Newly promoted partner Catherine Kennedy leads the development side of the practice. Daniel Milnes particularly excels at advising on regulatory, governance and procurement issues. Associates Sarah Rogers and Kirsty Varley are experienced in housing management, tenancy enforcement and anti-social behaviour.

Practice head(s):

Stuart Penswick; Catherine Kennedy; Daniel Milnes; Jonathan Holden; Lachlan McLean; Shirley Faragher

Other key lawyers:

Sarah Rogers; Kirsty Varley

Testimonials

‘The team know and understand the sector nuances, and the constraints that registered providers have to operate within. The team have many years experience and are always able to help with any query.’

‘The members of the team are always happy and willing to pick up the phone and talk through issues with you, and explore the possible outcomes/answers with you, and because they know the firm and the sector, you don’t have to waste time giving the background information to get them up to speed.’

‘They have a unique blend of professionalism and customer support. They set up a team of complimentary skills to ensure delivery of an incredibly important project.’

‘The team worked to an extremely tight timescale and demonstrated dedication to deliver the project. They were happy to provide sound legal advice whilst respecting the timescales and commercial challenges. All this during lockdown with limited access to their offices.’

‘The practice has all round professionals that cover all the elements of law I need for my team to provide an effective and excellent service to our customers. They are responsive, knowledgeable and keen to provide an excellent service at all times.’

‘Lachlan has been an amazing source of knowledge, has provided me with all the advice and help I needed and we would not have achieved some of our outcomes without his help.’

Key clients

Together Housing

Guinness Partnership

Riverside

Trafford Housing Trust

Community Gateway

Linconshire Housing Partnership

Mosscare St Vincent’s (MSV)

Onward

EMH

ONGO

Regenda

Places for People

Progress

Torus

Acis

South Yorkshire Housing

Midland Heart

Work highlights

  • Assisted Onward Homes Limited with exchange of contracts on acquisition of 96 units for the purpose of affordable housing across two development phases.
  • Obtained Britain’s first ‘coronavirus injunction’ after a tenant on a Manchester housing estate was throwing parties for up to 20 guests during the lockdown and continually flouting the rules, placing other residents in the area at significant risk of harm.
  • Instructed by Bolton at Home to acquire the freehold land to be used as a 22 affordable unit residential development with modular homes, whilst also varying and extinguishing the previously acquired leasehold title for the development.

Trowers & Hamlins LLP

Trowers & Hamlins LLP's team is praised for its ‘excellent understanding of the challenges facing the social housing sector’, as it assists housing associations, equity investors, government agencies and local government bodies. Suzanne Benson, who heads up the group in Manchester, specialises in major projects and leads on work for Homes England. Richard St John Williams leads the governance group within the wider practice, contributing expertise in housing law and regulation. Janet Winrow has three decades of experience of regeneration projects. Another key individual is Melanie Comer, who specialises in property work associated with large portfolios used to secure housing finance. Senior associate Tom Wainwright also plays a key role in the team.

Practice head(s):

Suzanne Benson

Other key lawyers:

Richard St John Williams; Janet Winrow; Melanie Comer; Tom Wainwright; Darren Ashworth

Testimonials

‘Trowers are agile and quick to respond to urgent matters. They will provide clear and concise advice on complex matters unlike many other solicitors in the sector. They will manage a file and progress matters to a conclusion on the timescales instructed. They understand the need to balance risk with getting business done.’

‘I have mainly worked with Darren Ashworth, whom I have found to be accessible and highly competent at dealing with a wide range of land and property acquisitions and Section 106 and development agreements.’

‘Excellent understanding of the challenges facing the social housing sector and supporting associations to navigate through such challenges effectively.’

‘Partners are knowledgeable, supportive and accessible.’

Key clients

Homes England

Clarion Group

Great Places Housing Group

Guinness Partnership

Community Gateway Association Limited

Legal & General Affordable Homes

Your Housing Group

First Choice Homes Oldham

Onward Homes

Jigsaw Group

One Manchester Limited

Bromford Housing Association Limited

Trafford Housing Trust

Hyde Housing Association

Ongo Homes Limited

West Midlands Combined Authority

Trent & Dove Housing Limited

Northwards Housing

Salix Homes

Work highlights

  • Advising Latimer Developments Limited on the acquisition of a development site with a land value of £11 million and proposed residential development of over 250 units.
  • Advising Homes England in relation to the Help to Buy 2021-23 scheme to be launched in April 2021.
  • Advising on a number of multi million pound development transactions for Southway Housing Trust and their private arm, Southway Plus.

Clyde & Co

The team at Clyde & Co LLP attracts praise for its ‘knowledge and experience of social housing law and procedure that is second to none’. Matthew Hyam has a focus on the public and third sectors, and he acts for stock owning local authorities and registered providers. Hyam co-heads the practice with Stephen Lintott, who has longstanding relationships with a number of housing providers, with particular expertise in development, funding and planning agreements. Tessa Leonard assists local councils with regeneration schemes.

Practice head(s):

Matthew Hyam; Stephen Lintott

Other key lawyers:

Elizabeth McCulloch; Tessa Leonard

Testimonials

‘The team at BLM has knowledge and experience of social housing law and procedure that is second to none. I have not encountered a department with such broad casework.’

‘The team is led by Matthew Hyam who has perhaps the most impressive knowledge of social housing law and procedure of any lawyer that I have encountered. His careful analytical approach to each case permeates throughout the whole team.’

‘They are very proactive and user friendly. Able to deal with the whole gamut of issues that arise in social housing with aplomb and sensitivity.’

‘Matthew Hyam: keeps a cool head under pressure, whilst retaining positive attitude. Thinks about practical solutions to resolve issues rather than strict legal answers: ensures that people’s needs are addressed and met, and that everyone keeps an eye on the bigger picture.’

‘The whole team are very well educated in the area of housing law. They are all very approachable and will give their advice and recommendations as quickly as possible.’

‘Elizabeth has become my main go to person lately simply because I find her so helpful and knowledgeable, if she is not around a quick voice message or email will be returned as soon as is possible.’

‘I am mainly instructed by Elizabeth McCulloch, who is an excellent and efficient solicitor who has the respect of her clients. The work is always well prepared.’

Key clients

Urban Splash

First Choice Homes

The Riverside Group

Halton Housing

Places for People Group

Peaks & Plains Housing Trust

Notting Hill Genesis

Clarion Housing Group

Sanctuary Housing Group

Phoenix Community Housing Group

Lancaster City Council

Greatwell Homes

Work highlights

  • Represented Greatwell Homes in the successful recovery of possession, using the absolute ground for possession following conviction and imprisonment for sexual offences against children.
  • Represented Halton Housing in the successful recovery of possession pursuant to Grounds 12, 13 & 14 HA 1988 when the defendant tenant pleaded an Equality Act 2010 defence and public law arguments.
  • Assisted Silver Homes with  updating a policy in respect of decants and drafted a licence agreement in accordance with the updated policy.

Clarke Willmott LLP

Praised for its ‘fantastic knowledge of housing law’, Clarke Willmott LLP's team is known for its strengths in housing management, handling disrepair issues, possession and leaseholder disputes. A name to note at the firm is Lindsay Felstead, who is the national head of the national housing management team, and also a joint head of the national social housing group. The practice covers a wide range of matters for clients, such as those concerning disrepair, anti-social behaviour, possession, fraudulent sub-lets and other breaches of tenancies. Aaron Macauley, who heads up the wider North West property litigation team has acted on significant disputes for social housing clients.

Practice head(s):

Lindsay Felstead; Vicky Kells (Cardiff)

Other key lawyers:

Aaron Macauley

Testimonials

‘Supportive an experienced in giving the correct advice. Explain things clearly and precisely without pressurising you.’

‘The solicitors here have a fantastic knowledge of housing law and complement each other well. They are always on hand to advise and offer opinions and solutions that don’t necessarily involve paying them fees. They look at the best outcome for clients not what will increase their income.’

‘The social housing team has strong leadership and are experts in their field. They keep clients up to date with latest developments and how they are applicable to them.’

‘Lindsay Felstead’s reputation in the sector is excellent. She is very good at her job but also developing relationships with her clients and the ability to translate legal jargon into plain English.’

‘Lindsay Felstead is such a fantastic person to have support and guide you on how to move cases forward.’

‘Very accessible. Good and practical advice given quickly over the telephone. The person we dealt with had previously worked in social housing and understood perfectly the issues we had. Very quick to take action within a very tight deadline, and during Covid restrictions.’

Key clients

Plus Dane Housing

One Manchester

MSV

Stonewater

Regenda

Peaks & Plains Housing Trust

L&Q

Clarion

Housing Plus

Connexus

Work highlights

  • Acted for L&Q in Cornerstone Telecommunications Infrastructure Ltd v London & Quadrant Housing Trust [2020] UKUT 282 (LC) which dealt with the terms of the Telecommunications Code to be imposed on L&Q. – one of the leading cases in the Telecommunications industry since the introduction of the ‘New Code’ in December 2017.
  • Acted for landlord Sovereign in a tenant disrepair claim, which resulted in the claim no longer being pursued resulting in considerable costs savings for the client.
  • Acting for Plus Dane on an injunction order including exclusion and power of arrest obtained following serious anti-social behaviour perpetrated by tenant’s son. Protection and peace of mind for the victims.

Pinsent Masons LLP

Pinsent Masons LLP stands out for its involvement in large housing schemes both nationally and locally, with the team acting for a number of key stakeholders, including registered providers, residential developers and local authorities. Mike Pocock has taken over as the head of the practice, following Helen Robinson's departure for an in-house role at BoKlok Housing Limited in September 2020. Pocock is a planning lawyer with experience of advising both public and private sector clients. He is supported by Scot Morrison, who is an expert in public sector joint venture vehicles.

Practice head(s):

Mike Pocock  

Other key lawyers:

Scot Morrison

Key clients

Heylo Housing Group Limited

BoKlok Housing Limited

Rochdale Boroughwide Housing

Homes England

Transport for Greater Manchester

London Borough of Harrow

HIMOR (Carrington) Limited

Keepmoat Homes Limited

Manchester City Council

London Legacy Development Corporation

Basingstoke and Deane Borough Council and Hampshire County Council

Chalkdene Development LLP

Royal Borough of Kensington & Chelsea

Work highlights

  • Advise Heylo Housing Group Limited on all of their site purchases from both a property and planning perspective. Heylo Housing operates across the UK and currently has a portfolio of more than 8,000 homes across over 300 local authorities.
  • Advised BoKlok on disposal of circa 90 homes at Fulbeck Avenue, Worthing to a registered provider.
  • Advising Rochdale Boroughwide Housing Limited on their College Bank and Lower Falinge Development Scheme – the largest housing-led regeneration project in Rochdale offering the potential to deliver over 680 new homes alongside the improvement of over 300 existing homes, public realm and place-making in order to secure long term sustainability and drive the wider regeneration of Rochdale Town Centre.

Weightmans LLP

Weightmans LLP is noted for having a ‘strong reputation in both the north west and nationally for its social housing work’. The team assists clients with site acquisitions and developments, mergers and rationalisations. as well as employment law issues. Contentious work includes matters involving issues such as housing disrepair and dilapidations, among others. Practice head Sian Evans has expertise in property litigation and housing management issues. Jo Loake joined from Knights plc in December 2020.

Practice head(s):

Sian Evans

Other key lawyers:

Thomas Starkey; Matthew Wilson; Jo Loake

Testimonials

‘Weightmans provide a service which is unique by combining a down-to-earth approach with an exceptional level of knowledge and a wealth of experience. The whole team can be trusted with cases of the utmost complexity. They are able to quickly get to the heart of the issues in a case and explain it to clients in a straightforward matter.’

‘Sian Evans (Partner) stands out as an exceptional litigator. She quickly grapples with the legal issues in a case and distils the strengths and weaknesses to enable her to form a clear strategy on how to achieve her client’s aims.’

‘Matthew Wilson (Principal Associate) is another outstanding member of the team. His key strength lies in his ability to deconstruct the other side’s arguments and gather the necessary evidence to put his client in the strongest possible position at trial.

‘The team, led by Sian Evans, has a strong reputation in both the north west and nationally for its social housing work. By virtue of Sian’s position of member of the national Housing Law Committee of the law society (which she chaired for a number of years) and her position on various boards of local housing providers, the team is “on the pulse” of the ever-changing landscape of social housing.’

Key clients

The Sovini Group

Jigsaw Housing Group

Torus Housing Group

Forviva (City West)

Halton Housing Trust

Clarion Housing Group

The Guinness Partnership

Regenda Housing group

Pierhead Housing Association (Prima Group)

Midland Heart

Work highlights

  • Provided Irwell Valley Housing Association with advice on changing its rules to take into account virtual meetings as a result of Covid-19 but to ensure that they can now always have virtual meetings if they choose.
  • Advised One Vision Housing Limited on the securitisation of some of its housing stock with Barclays Bank PLC. The total facility value of £50m.
  • Assisted Halton Housing with acquiring a site for the development of an affordable housing scheme of 83 homes in East Cheshire.

Anthony Collins Solicitors LLP

The social housing practice at Anthony Collins Solicitors LLP is known for its strengths advising clients on governance, property, leasehold, stock rationalisation and housing management. Jonathan Cox has expertise in service charges, leasehold management and supported housing projects. Cox co-heads the practice with Lucy Worrall, who has almost two decades of experience, and has expertise in development and regeneration, site acquisitions and shared ownership.

Practice head(s):

Jonathan Cox; Lucy Worrall

Other key lawyers:

Catherine Simpson

Testimonials

‘Dedicated and insightful long-term leadership in the field.’

‘A diverse and extremely capable team of people who are ready and able to respond to legal queries immediately. Commissioning legal advice is simple and straightforward.’

‘The team are extremely knowledgeable and can be relied upon to give clear advice and guidance. In the main I have dealt with Catherine Simpson – an individual who is extremely helpful and provides an excellent customer service to her clients. Her work turnaround timescales are swift and her advice is relevant and to the point.’

Key clients

The Riverside Group

The Guinness Partnership

Wulvern Housing Limited

Salix Homes Limited

Trafford Housing Trust Limited

Irwell Valley Housing Association

Clarion Housing Group

One Manchester

Magenta Living

Work highlights

  • Offered a new way of partnering with key housing clients in light of the Covid-19 pandemic to give the access to all of the team’s legal knowledge.
  • Acting for Trafford Housing Trust in connection with the acquisition of 74 affordable units from a joint venture LLP which are to be built in Greater Manchester.
  • Supported Clarion Housing Group in relation to an application to the First Tier Tribunal (Property Chamber) for dispensation from the obligations under section 20 of the Landlord & Tenant Act 1985 (Consultation Obligations).

MSB Solicitors Ltd

MSB Solicitors Ltd resulted from the merger between MSB Law LLP and Knox Ellis Solicitors in February 2020, with the amalgamated entity now being well-positioned to provide a wide range of services to social housing clients. The firm has a specialist social housing and regeneration team, which works closely with practitioners that focus on areas such as corporate, employment, commercial property, residential property and commercial litigation. Newly promoted partner Louise Murphy, who has taken on the role as the head of the practice, garners praise for providing ‘an excellent service’. She works with solicitor Andrew Moore (the head of anti-social behaviour and leasehold) and senior associate Phillip Coburn (the head of market rents). Consultant Tom Knox continues to contribute his vast experience in this space.

Practice head(s):

Louise Murphy; Andrew Moore; Phillip Coburn

Other key lawyers:

Tom Knox

Testimonials

‘We use MSB because they are quick, reliable and helpful. They always go over and above and are available when needed.’

‘Vast amount of knowledge, confident and relentless.’

‘At present I primarily deal with Louise Murphy and I find her extremely knowledgeable and helpful. She is always on hand to give advice whether it is a case she is working with or if you need quick advice.’

‘I would like to single out Louise Murphy at MSB who has been a great support to us over a few years and has really stepped up during the last 12 months with advice, guidance and legal support on various housing issues. We have been able to look at various options in cases and Louise has kept us fully up to speed with legal changes over the last 12 months.’

‘The team are always very helpful and deliver work in a timely fashion.’

‘We have a high level of trust and confidence in how MSB work and crucially with their legal advice and support.’

Key clients

Arcon Housing Association Limited

Bamboo Lettings

Bolton Metropolitan Borough Council

Brighter Futures

Central Housing Investment Consortium (CHIC)

City South Manchester Housing Trust

Community Gateway Housing

Connect Housing

Eastlands Homes

Eden Housing Association

Impact Housing Association Limited

Irwell Valley Housing Association Limited

Magenta Living

One Manchester

Parkway Green Housing Trust

Peaks and Plains Housing Trust Limited

Plus Dane Housing

Progress Housing Association Limited

Regenda Homes

South Derbyshire District Council

South Yorkshire Housing Association Limited

Stockport Metropolitan Borough Council

Trafford Housing Trust

The Riverside Group Limited

Unity Housing Association Limited

Weaver Vale Housing Trust

Westfield Housing Association

Willow Park Housing Trust

Wythenshawe Community Housing Group

Yorkshire Housing

Work highlights

  • Successfully defending One Manchester in a disrepair claim brought against them and obtaining a judgement on a counterclaim, plus costs.
  • Successfully bringing a ‘Hybrid Injunction’ for breach of tenancy and anti-social behaviour on behalf of our client Trafford Housing Trust.
  • Successfully representing our client Irwell Valley Housing Association as an Interested Person at an Inquest into the death of a tenant.

Stephensons Solicitors LLP

Stephensons Solicitors LLP acts for housing associations, regulated care providers and developers. ‘Very approachable‘ partner David Baybut, who has a wealth of real estate expertise, advises housing developers, builders and local authorities. One client noted that Baybut has ‘in-depth knowledge of the housing lease sector‘. He co-heads the social housing practice with  Louise Hebborn, who specialises in contractual disputes and disrepair claims.

Practice head(s):

David Baybut; Louise Hebborn

Testimonials

‘The real estate team at Stephensons have demonstrated over the last couple of years extensive knowledge of the residential long lease model. Use of shared data room has facilitated effective working. Billing is clear and well documented.’

‘Both David Baybut and Chris Graves have in-depth knowledge of the housing lease sector, and constructing associated agreements (landlord/tenant, and construction). Both are very approachable and can explain sometimes very complicated points of property law in lay persons terms. Both are very accessible and responsive when dealing with matters, they also take a co-ordinating role when working across multiple parties.’

Key clients

South Liverpool Homes Ltd

Fairhome Group Plc

Leeds Housing Federation

My Space Limited

Bespoke Supportive Tenancies Limited

Houses for Homes Limited

Kirklees Borough Council

Ist Enable Limited

Encircle Housing

Change Housing

Quay Housing

Enabling Homes Limited

Great Places Limited

Work highlights

  • Assisted My Space Housing Solutions with the lease of a property in Burnley.
  • Assisted Uthink People Developing People with l ease of a property in Barnsley – three storey block comprising 14 flats for residential accommodation.
  • Acted on behalf of South Liverpool Homes Limited on an initial acquisition of a development site and the subsequent disposals of newly constructed apartments. The apartments are being sold on either private or on a shared ownership basis.

Capsticks LLP

Capsticks LLP‘s footprint in the social housing arena is reflected by the fact that it acts for more than 200 registered providers. Its team in Chorley, which is part of a national operation, focuses on serving clients throughout the North. Areas of expertise include leasehold and housing management, asset management and development projects. The team is led by experienced partner Paul Lloyd, who has over 20 years of experience acting for local and national housing associations. His expertise includes cases concerning anti-social behaviour, tenancy fraud, and land and service charge disputes.

Practice head(s):

Paul Lloyd

Other key lawyers:

Natalie Hurst; Tom Bradbury; Ian Larkins; Jennifer Hankinson

Key clients

ForHousing

Jigsaw

Gedling Homes

Habinteg Housing

South Liverpool Homes

One Vision Housing

Selwood Housing

The Guinness Partnership

The Riverside Group

Onward Homes

Work highlights

  • Worked with the housing association ForHousing to secure an anti-social behaviour injunction against a tenant, banning them from certain acts. When the tenant breached it, the firm represented the association in committal proceedings, and successfully proved (despite expert evidence) that the tenant had capacity. This meant that the tenant had sanctions applied against them.
  • Assted Jigsaw Housing Group in a matter where the deceased tenant’s ex-wife, with whom he lived before his death, asserted her right to succeed under the relevant legislation. The firm succeeded in ordering succession, and this meant that the property could go back into the pot to be allocated in accordance with the appropriate procedures. A property reallocated incorrectly deprives a worthy potential resident on the waiting list, who is legitimately entitled to that property.
  • Acted for South Liverpool Home in an extremely serious anti-social behaviour matter following two arson attacks. Advised on options and applied for an injunction against the defendant which excluded him from his home and a large area of Liverpool, achieving an excellent outcome. Additionally managed to secure costs of £1400 for client.